Saturday 28 March was the day for the Endurer Dash, an 8km obstacle course mud run in the Peak District. Having never done anything like this before it was a step into the unknown and given that I’ve never been a particular fan of running or ever been any good at it, it was a jump that filled me with some trepidation. Even though it was an 11 am start, it was an early start to the day as we had to get the troops up, fed and into the car so that we could get going. As the journey went on I didn’t feel too bad considering what was to come, even when the rain started it didn’t seem make much difference. I think I’d already convinced myself that I was in for a hard day so a bit of rain wasn’t going to make much difference. The closer we got to the course, the more the terrain looked tricky. I knew that the Peak District wasn’t known for being flat but it was more hilly than I had hoped so I was keeping my fingers crossed that the course wouldn’t be too bad.
The weeks leading up to the Endurer Dash hadn’t gone to plan in any way, shape or form. Prior to the cold I had in the week before the cycle ride, training had been going really well and even my running was starting to progress. Since the cycle ride it had been a completely different story. My eating habits had gone awry and I was really struggling mentally. The combination of trying to do too much with all aspects of the fund raising, a lack of progress with my fitness aims, general frustration at getting people to interact with the process and trying to fit in time with triplets all came to a bit of a head and I needed to take a step back and concentrate on the things that were most important to me. That all meant that despite the benefits training could give, it had to take a back seat until I could get my head together. It all made me realise that despite all of the progress that I’ve made in the last couple of years, I still have an illness and at times that is going to make this more difficult than I had previously thought.
When we arrived at the car park I met up with Simon and we started to get prepared for the off by picking up our race numbers, timing chips and by trying to keep warm despite the best efforts of the weather. Following a brief warmup and a quick bit of aerobics, the gun went off and it was time to get going. Despite having trail shoes, it was hard keeping my footing and as we set off running it was proving to be much harder than being on the treadmill. When we hit the first uphill section I had to walk up it as I was struggling to stay on my feet, which was an even bigger feat when we tried to go downhill. It seemed like I was going to expend a lot of energy just staying upright. After heading through the woods, through more mud and over rivers, we made it to the first wall and with a good shove from some helpful fellow competitors, I made it over. I was already starting to feel the pace and then we started a long slog uphill and up river. By this time we had soaking wet feet and were starting to get a good covering of mud.
It seemed like we spent an eternity going uphill which was difficult given the terrain as I seemed to struggle to get grip to drive myself forward. All of that meant that it wasn’t long before my back started to hurt due to the effort I was putting in to drive my legs up the hills. As we weren’t very far through the course at this stage it seemed like it was going to be a long afternoon! Obstacles came and went as we headed up and down through the woods. Coming downhill was just as hard as getting up them so there was little chance to catch breath unless you stopped which I needed to do quite frequently so that I could keep going.
We battled on through woods and up and down the hills. At one point it felt like I would be able to put to good use the tips I’d picked up from watching Bear Grylls as we would need to make a shelter and set up camp for the evening. I can’t say that I was looking forward to eating bugs but it didn’t seem like we would make it back before nightfall so that might have to be an option. The trek continued through tunnels, over rivers, over fences and through mud and swamp that was well over my knees. All the wading through mud was certainly sapping my energy and I did start to wonder why I was doing it. Simon kept me going and helped me get over some of the obstacles as well as keeping me motivated to get to the finish. Eventually after some crawling under wire net through the mud and then a crawl uphill through a tunnel we made it to the water stop. We had been told that it was at the halfway point but my GPS made it just over 5kms so by my reckoning we were on the homeward stretch.
More fences and obstacles awaited as we trundled on and then after a slippery attempt at the monkey bars we made it to the deepest swamp and dragged ourselves through. It wasn’t far now to the worst part of the course which was the swim across the pond. I’d like to use dramatic effect and call it a lake but it wasn’t really all that far. The reason it was so bad was the cold! As I jumped in the cold took the air from my body and I was gasping to breath. My heart started to pump even faster as cold water shock took hold. I frantically started to swim keep my head above water and was relieved to get to the other side so I could get out. It was warmer out of the water and I started to come round within a couple of minutes and get my breath back. There were more obstacles to come as we marched on towards the finish. Walls, jumps, hay bales and tyre steps all were overcome then came the waterslide as we finally headed down hill towards the finish. As we approached the 10km mark and after over 2 ½ hours of effort, we were on the finishing straight. I was that tired I couldn’t even muster a triumphant run over the finishing line.
After congratulating each other when we had made it through the finish and collecting our medals, we were greeted with site of Elaine and triplets who were waiting to congratulate us on getting through it all. We posed for a few pictures and then went our separate ways to get home. As we drove back towards Sheffield on the way home there was a beautiful rainbow spread across the sky. It immediately made me think of Dan and it was almost like he was there watching over us.
As I started to recover in the afternoon, the marks of the course were starting to show as the bruises came through on my arms and ribs. Given how exhausted I felt at the finish, I didn’t feel too bad as soon as I had warmed up and had something to eat. Even the following day, despite having a few aches and sore patches, I felt pretty good.
Thanks need to go to Simon for all his help getting around the course. I’m sure he would have flown around it much faster if he hadn’t been helping me and it must have been hard having to keep waiting for me to get going again, particularly on the steep hills. I doubt I would have done it without him so thank you. Thanks also to the random people who helped on some of the obstacles as it took more than one to help get me over some of the walls!
Time to get back to training for the next event as it’s not too far away now!