At the double…. Again.

Following on from my last OCR at the Suffering I was again contesting a 5k/ 10k double up, this time at Mud Sweat and Beer (MSB), an event that has become a favourite among my running club and this time we had a 26 strong team heading to Daventry.

Like the Suffering event I was to take one race seriously and the other as a bit of fun running with some team mates and my wife Becky who was doing only her second ever race. The 5k was first, starting at 11am and this was the less serious of the two so also acted as a good warm up and a chance to test out my back injury I’d picked up in training the previous Sunday. As a result I hadn’t done any running since.

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As a rocket firework was set off to signal the start of the race I was in unfamiliar territory at the back of the field, I didn’t mind though as I planned to stay with Becky for the entire 5k helping her along. Within a minute and although I was running significantly slower than my normal pace I could already feel pain in my back but I was hoping it would loosen up as I went on.

It wasn’t long until we arrived at a water slide. I’ve been lucky enough to have a go on more than my fair share of slides in my time in this amazing sport. Some look great but end up being an anti climax, others have been truly epic and this one was up there with the best of them. It had significant length, hight and steepness, the perfect amount of water/ soapy liquid and also required skill so that you didn’t end up in the aptly named ‘eggy swamp’ at the bottom. It didn’t matter a great deal though as there was no choice but to jump straight into it to proceed anyway.

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As good as this side was, not being one of the front runners meant we did have to wait a little while for our turn which resulted in us losing a fair bit of distance to all the runners in front of us but it did also give Becky a welcomed breather. I was well worth the wait though.

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Then came a prolonged running section where we managed to catch quite a few who had gotten away while we waited at the side. The rest of the race involved a lot of natural obstacles and several deep water crossings.

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Although Becky was finding to going tough and my back was concerning me some what we still had good fun on our way round which is what OCR is all about and something I sometimes forget while racing it out at the front.

As we neared the finish there were more man made obstacles such as monkey bars, several A frames and a testing vertical wall.

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Becky actually managed to get faster as the race went on, her confidence grew and the long, tight tunnels near the finish line helped her conquer her claustrophobia fears. We crossed the line in just over an hour meaning I had about 45 minutes until the start of the 10k. I knew my back was going to restrict me but I wanted to give it a go.

The 10k was 2 laps of the 5k course but also involved an added hill climb on each lap making it actually 11k or more. After changing a bit of my kit, restoring some energy and stretching my back out the best I could I was on the start line again. The rocket blasted off and so did the winner of the 5k, looking for what would have been an impressive double but within 1k myself and Chris Harvey, who was second behind me at the last MSB event back in December, had reeled him in and pushed on renewing our friendly yet competitive rivalry.

I led for the remainder of the first lap but wasn’t feeling my normal relaxed self. Chris was right on my shoulder and I didn’t feel as though I was dictating the pace. I wasn’t anywhere near maximum but my back was restricting me from speeding up.

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I was hoping that Chris was clinging on but I got the impression he was waiting to make his move. The roles had reversed from December where I sat in second for the first lap then pushed away on lap two and this trend continued. Chris had taken the lead just before we came to the side and I struggled to get through the muddy bog that followed losing seconds which turned into minutes as he impressively pushed on and my back forced me to slow.

Chris is an accessional running with several sub 1 min 50 secs 800 meters to his name and a 31 minute 10k on the road and he was showing that class as I saw him power away in the distance. At our last meeting I was able to pull away on a succession of obstacles but there was no such thing on this course. Each obstacle was separated by long running sessions. Normally something I would revel in but today I’d met my match.

As the race went on my back got worse. There were plenty of open sections where I could see Chris extending his lead and me mind was now on finishing without doing myself any long lasting damage. I’d slowed dramatically and was very surprised when looking back that no other competitor was in sight. I was having to be overly cautious as i negotiated the Boggy swamps, ditches, woodland and uneven surfaces.

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To my relief I safely got round but I was almost four minutes behind Chris’ finish time yet shockingly still seven minutes ahead of third place. The race director Nigel handed me a beer as I crossed the finish line and I congratulated Chris on his win. The longer I stood still the more my back tightened up but in truth I had expected that to happen. I knew it wasn’t going to be my strongest performance but I wanted to see if I had enough to still get the win and had Chris not been on such good form I would have done. I look forwards to our next encounter.

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There is something about these events that keeps me coming back. There is a realty good, friendly vide from everyone involved and they are one of the best value OCR’s on offer. You get to race both distances for your entry fee, a decent medal & a beer as well as an awesome selection of free photos.

This was the sixth MSB and the third at this venue of Ali’s Arena, Long Furlong Farm. I have to admire how they continue to give variety as each event has been on a different course with a different race HQ and start/ finish point. I would have liked to have seen a few more obstacle on course and I do prefer their usual layout of an obstacle heavy section rather than having each one spread out with long running sections in between each but the amount of swamps to wade through was very challenging and certainly stopped you in your tracks as did the long water wade which I was please to see have a rope from one side to the other as well as enough marshals to make what was very deep water seem very safe. The course also featured the unique Blue lagoon. Beautiful rock pools that wouldn’t look out of place in the most tropical of destinations.

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Three days after the race I got in to see a physio who diagnosed the problem as a muscle spasms so nothing too serious hopefully. Not too confident I’ll be able to race the Oakley 20 this coming Sunday but I feel like I should be ok for the trail marathon the following weekend. Time will tell.

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