With such a busy schedule this year I’d already missed several OCR UK championship qualifying races so I was please when this event was added to the list. The organisers, Pukka Races, had a good reputation of putting on great events with top class medals and it was to be held at one of my favourite courses, the Nuts Challenge in Dorking Surrey.

The Parklands Tough Running team

The Parklands Tough Running team

I was pretty confident of achieving the qualifying standard of a top 10 finish and had opted to race the 5 miler rather than the 10 mile option as I entered before Endure 24 and wasn’t sure how well my body would have recovered. It had turned out that I was feeling good and ready to go hard.

Standing on the start line I knew it was going to be a fast race as the competition was strong. Both races were mixed together so I wasn’t sure who was in what race but I knew these guys were some of the best in the country so it would be quick whatever and wasn’t wrong.

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It took me a few hundred meters to make my way to the leaders tails and it wasn’t long at all before we hit a series of muddy trench jumps and some crawls. A short run through some forest land brought us to what is the UK’s most packed obstacle section of any course. It’s a relentless succession of climbs, jumps, crawls, hangs and scrambles with hardly any running in between. I managed to keep my place in the leading group which was now down to four.

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As we moved onto more woodland surroundings with a sequence of ditches, stream wades, tyre wall climbs and a practically tricky vertical tunnel clamber I was feeling strong and please that such an obstacle heavy section hadn’t taken more out if me. I pushes on and managed to lose two of the remaining three competitors leaving just myself and Lee Pickering who I knew well from the racing circuit over the last year. He was doing the 10 mile race so we were both now clear in our respective races.

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We ran together for short periods, chatting as we went put I found Lee was pulling away on the technical running sections and I was making up ground on the obstacles. This is the opposite to what I find racing most people. We were back side by side through the pain ball gauntlet seeking safety in numbers as we put our face masks on and charged through luckily avoiding being hit.

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I found breathing in the mask a real issue and for the first time started to struggle slightly. Lee used this opportunity to pull away slightly as we reached a sand bag carry up and down a flow of steep hills before more hills where my legs finally felt the strain. Lee was in full flow and off into the distance as more running followed. He was flying considering he had another lap to do. From this point onwards I was content in keeping my lead within the 5 mile race and nobody else entered my sights for the remainder of the race which was mostly field running with a couple of water crossings.

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As I entered back into the event village area I was well clear and knew I just had to negotiate one final obstacle for the victory. I scaled the huge inclined wall without fail and ran home a couple of minutes ahead of second place.

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As I crossed the finish line I was greeted with a top class medal and then at the presentation I received the most unique of awards. A plated engraved gas mask!

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