Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest Urban Obstacle Race – Nottingham 10 October 2015

In keeping with how things seem to have gone so far this year, the race seemed to have come around far too quickly. Training hadn’t really been going well since the Wiggle Yorkshire Tour Sportive when I had a sports massage to ease my back ache. Since then I seem to have had more problems with my back and hip which had hampered the training for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks trek and since then has prevented me from getting much done in preparation. I’ve managed to fit in odd sessions here and there but have been trying to rest it as much as I can so that it has time to recover. Unfortunately, the reality of having triplets and how much time you spend picking them up means that resting your back is a near impossible task. It had started to feel better but in the week before the race it had started to stiffen up again which was causing me some concern. Up and over

As race day got closer I was getting more and more concerned as I was struggling to get a good nights sleep and my back seemed to be getting worse. I decided to forego training in an attempt to rest it and would then hope that I could make it around the course. I was fairly hopeful that as long as it didn’t get any worse then I should be able to complete the course. The night before the race I barely slept as I kept waking up at the thought of trying to get over some of the obstacles so when it was time to get up and ready to go it was hard work. Throughout the year so far I don’t seem to have done anything the easy way and this was going to be no exception! As we travelled down to Nottingham I kept nodding off so it was a good job Elaine was driving. When we arrived I left everyone in the car and went to register so that I was ready for the off. My back felt ok as I walked over to register and I had strapped it up to try and take some of the strain off.

Rope climb

After picking up my timing chip it was time to get prepared. I met up with Simon, who had come to support, and then Elaine, my mum and the triplets arrived to wish me luck before the start. The time then came for me to leave them behind and head to the start. As we went through the warm up process and waited for the off I wasn’t feeling very confident of getting around the course. I hadn’t prepared very well due to the injury and as I watched some of the fit, early starters come in and struggle through the last few obstacles I didn’t think there was much hope of me getting that far. Before I could dwell on it any more, it was time to get going. First up, just after the start were the hay bales, they were much taller than previous ones that I had done but I managed to get over them without any issues and then started to get going.



As it was an urban race there was thankfully going to be less mud during the running sections which was going to help as I jogged off after the hay bales. I kept going for a short while and then felt my back seizing up so had to walk, I was determined to keep moving so tried to keep a reasonable pace going. I trotted on as fast as I could as I headed down along the side of the river. Simon came along with me for a while to give me some support and keep me going and the first couple of kilometres soon passed as I crossed the river and headed past the City Ground. I was then back to being on my own as Simon went to get some breakfast and I soon reached the next obstacles which were ‘Traffic Separation’ where I had to get over traffic barriers and then had to jump over some barriers. That went fine until I banged my knee on the last barrier and ended up flat on the floor! Fortunately there weren’t many people around to see me in a collapsed heap so I dusted myself down and carried on to the ‘Parkour Walls’ which I managed to make it over with a bit of pulling and far too much effort. It was then back on the path and further down the river as we made our way towards the National Watersports Centre.

The cone carryThe next obstacles were the balance beams and the see-saw beams which proved that my balance isn’t all that great and there was also the tyres to get through. My back wasn’t feeling any better but I was thankful that it wasn’t getting any worse. It still felt very stiff but I tried to keep my pace up so that I got through the running sections as quickly as I could but it seemed to take an eternity before I arrived at the next group of obstacles. The section started with a sandbag carry which was quickly dispatched and then it was on to the monkey bars which ended in familiar fashion with me not getting too far and falling off. The monkey bars were followed by a failed attempt at the cross wire where you had to cross a section standing on a rope with only a rope about you for support. I didn’t have the strength or balance to make it across. Then it was on to the box maze which was negotiated after a bit of breathing in and squeezing through. It was a bit tight in places but I made it out of the other side and on to the cargo net. As I didn’t have anyone to hold it up for me I ended up crawling through on my knees through the mud and stones and then made it on through the pools of water towards the last obstacle of the section which was the water carry. I picked up the water bottle and made my way around the course and was glad to see the end so that I could pass it on and get on with the rest of the course.

The Radiator


Next up was another long stretch along the river that took us into the National Watersports Centre and through the water. It was freezing as we went through so I wasn’t looking forward to the slide and swim but I had a reprieve when I got to the slide as they didn’t have a buoyancy aid big enough so I had to pass up on the cold water. It was then on to the rope climb which ended nearly as quickly as it started. After a good jump and getting a good grip it was far too wet and slippery so I didn’t make it to the top. It was then a trip up and down the hill numerous times which, thanks to my new trainers. I managed to get through without incident. Then it was back to the path and on to the next tranche of obstacles.

I was still keeping up a decent pace and seemed to be making good time considering. The next obstacle was carrying a very large cone around a course which after hauling it over my head wasn’t too hard. It was then on to the ‘Radiator Descent’ where you had to climb up one side of an A-frame and then slide down the other which was good fun.

Gracefully through the 'Joe Mangle'

The slippery wall was up next but as there was a massive queue I went straight on to crawling commando style through the last obstacle of the section. Simon had been keeping me company since the water events and was keeping my morale high as I continued along the path. The distances seems to be clocking up and it didn’t seem that far to the finish.

When I reached the next obstacle section I had hit the 9km mark so didn’t have that far to go but it seemed further than 1km to get back to where we had started. That was the least of my worries though as I had to get through the obstacles before I could get any further. I scrambled my way through ‘Joe Mangle’ in elegant style and then went on to ‘Drunken Monkey’ which was like monkey bars but with beer barrels. That didn’t last too long before I ended up on the floor.

Getting up the climbing wall

Next up was the climbing wall which I’ve never been very good at but by some miracle I managed to make it to the top and back down the other side. That took it out of me as it was hard work pulling myself over the lip at the top. I then squeezed through an up and over tunnel which was harder than it looked as I couldn’t really move anything over than my hands and feet so I shuffled through like a worm. The final obstacle of that section was the parallel bars which I managed to get up on ok but couldn’t make it across the distance as I wasn’t strong enough to keep moving.

MH Slide

The next stop after more ‘running’ was the City Ground where we had to go up and down the stairs in the stadium climb. My quads were burning after the stairs but I was getting closer to the finish so kept ploughing on. After passing the 10km mark (which should have been the finish!) I headed down the river and over the bridge towards the park where the finishing line was. There was still the
final round of obstacles to negotiate before the finishing line which included the dreaded travellator! First up was a climb up to head
down the slide which I enjoyed but hoped it would have been longer.Parallel bars

Next up was ‘The Big Rig’ which started with a ring section (like hang tough for those who remember Gladiators) then parallel bars where
your hands and feet were on the bars, more hanging around on swinging metal poles and then another set of parallel bars. I surprised myself
on the parallel bars but struggled with the swinging.

There was then another climb up for the air bag jump which meant leaping from a high platform on to an air filled bag! After my graceful leap I elegantly rolled off the bag and on to towards the final few obstacles. I had to crawl through a cargo next filled with balls which was hard going and then it was on to the inclined walls were I turned helper to hoist lots of people over and the same happened at the ‘Wall of Fame’ where I helped a couple of teams get over.

That took me to the final obstacle – the ‘Travellator’. I had been dreading it all week as I had visions of falling on my face before I got up the ramp along with the thoughts of being too tired to make it up there. By the time I made it that to the end it seemed like it had slowed down but as I waited to make my attempt the nerves started to build. When my time came I put my head down and went for it. I struggled to get a grip as the mat tried to wheel me back to the start but I pushed through and tried to keep moving upwards. There were points where I thought I was heading back to the start but I managed to keep my feet and eventually made it to the top. I climbed down and crossed the finish line. It had been a hard effort but I had made it. I collected my medal and then met up with everyone again for some photos. I was pleased to have made it and it took me another event closer. I was particularly happy with getting up the climbing wall, getting through the air bag jump, my performance on one part of the Big Rig and most pleased with defeating my nemesis – the Travellator. I hadn’t done it like the people I had watched years ago on Gladiators but I had made it from the bottom to the top.

When he sent me some photos that he had taken on the way round Simon pointed out that he though the trip up the travellator was symbolic of the whole year of challenges and I think he was right. The trip up didn’t go entirely to plan and it was a struggle getting to the end but I did make it to the end through a bit of determination and a bit of stubbornness. The focus is now on getting back to training and to try and make some progress before the next Survival of the Fittest event and to start planning what the last two events are going to be!

RewardsMH Finish 3If you want to help why not like our Facebook page or share it with your friends, register for updates on the website or have a
look at the sponsor page. The chances are that you will know someone who suffers for mental health problems but you might
not be aware of it. The funds that have been raised so far will make a difference through the work the Blurt Foundation and Mind
do and the support from everyone keeps me going when times are hard.

Onwards and upwards

3 thoughts on “Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest Urban Obstacle Race – Nottingham 10 October 2015

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