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How to survive a mid-winter muddy obstacle race
While the worst storm in 45 years was whipping through Wellington, we were trying on our gear for the Linton Army Camp Tough Guy and Gal challenge.
Crazy? Certainly felt like it, as I stood there in thermals wondering what the hell I signed up for. It was my first obstacle race and I had convinced two other friends to run the 6k with me. Dan and another friend were down for the 12k.
Flash back to October 2012 when Dan had just come home from competing in his first Tough Mudder. I remember saying that I wished I could do something like that with him, but at that stage I felt too unfit to even contemplate it. Over the last 6 months I felt I'd worked hard at CrossFit, and thought I was prepared to give the Tough Guy and Gal a go.
It was freezing. It was mentally and physically challenging. It was hellish. But I left behind my fears and challenged myself - and I'm so glad I did it!
Here are my tips for surviving a mid-winter mud and obstacle race.
With a high of 7°C, intermittent showers, and plenty of river crossings and mud crawls throughout the race, preventing hypothermia was our biggest goal. You want enough protection for exposed skin, but not so much you collect mud and water.
I went for a body hugging thermal underlayer, with a light overlayer, so water would not hold and weigh me down. We got a lot of great thermal gear from Kathmandu - including fingerless gloves (if you want to avoid cuts and scrapes on your hands, wear something) and a thermal hat (which did not come off the entire race). Dan wore full 2XU compression gear. A great tip is to wear togs underneath, they're built for water wear!
It may sound like a strange tip, but tying your shoes using the lock lace method will help your shoes stay on in mud pits, while not cutting the circulation off in your feet. Many sports shoes have twin eyelets at the top to suit lock lacing. Lock lacing also creates more friction, which should help prevent the knot coming loose, especially if you have slippery synthetic laces or are unknowingly using a granny knot.
Have a good feed of kumara with your meal the night before, to give you a good intake of carbs. On the day, make sure you stay well hydrated and eat enough to fuel your body. Chuck a gel shot or a salami stick down your top to give you more energy along the way.
One of the things that breaks through the mental barrier when you're toughing it out through the freezing water, is the people that are right there with you, encouraging you along. Whether they're racing with you, or on the side lines cheering you along, there's nothing quite as motivating as the support from friends and family during the race.
I couldn't work my fingers, so getting changed was officially the last obstacle of the day. Make sure your clothes are not inside out when you pack them as turning in the right way will waste precious time in standing the cold. Remember that hundreds of people have been through the showers and stood in the changing rooms before you, so don't take your best clothes to get changed into - just something warm that is easy to get on. Get changed again when you get home... after a looooong hot shower.
Don't plan much for the following day, your body will likely need the time to recover. The only thing you should plan to do is stretch. Your muscles will thank you for it!
New Zealand is a bit behind on the uptake of obstacle races, but we've pulled together a few fun and interesting events that are coming in the next 12 months.
Tough Guy and Gal Challenge
Challenge yourself on a course that includes swamp crossings, a spiders web net climb, crawl under barb wire, beautiful native bush trails, a range of natural and man made obstacles, mud and more mud.
Check out www.eventpromotions.co.nz for more info.
Mud Sweat & Tears Challenge 2013
The courses include mud slides, forest runs, hay bale pyramid, a crawl under a sea of barbed wire, horse jumps, water jumps, wire rope bridges, mud runs, floating platforms and new obstacles are added each year.
Check out http://www.mudsweattears.co.nz for more info.
McDonalds Mud Muster
The venue will be set on the farm that the Rangitikei Farmstay is situated on in the Turakina Valley. Rolling hills, ponds, streams and green grass soon turns into slippery, wet, steep, muddy, FUN!!
Check out www.sportwanganui.co.nz for more info.
Muddy Good Run - Spring Race
There is water and mud, tyres to run through, wire to crawl under, fences to scale, bales of hay to climb over, mud, a slippery slide and water “did I mention the electric fence?”
Check out www.muddygoodrun.co.nz for more info.
Summer Brookfield Butt Busta Challenge
The course is a mix of flats, ups and downs, obstacles, beautiful bush, water and mud. Each 4km lap includes 15 obstacles, from tyres, to net crawls, to wire walks.
Check out capitalmultisportsrunwalks.co.nz for more info.
Mazda O Rock
Mazda O ROCK is a 6km obstacle course race that combines off-road terrain featuring at least ten obstacles constructed by an experienced crew. You’ll climb over fences, crawl under nets and barbed wire, jump over walls and face many other challenges.
Check out www.orock.co.nz for more info.
Run for your Freak’n Life
How fun does this sound?! You’re not only running against the clock and each other – you’re running from brain-hungry, virus-spreading, Freak’n Zombies. Throughout the 5K obstacle race, there will be over 13 man-made and natural obstacles for you to conquer.
Check out www.runforyourfreaknlife.com for more info.
Hobsonville Point Runway Challenge
This event takes in the interesting and historic surrounds of the old Hobsonville Airbase, with numerous obstacles challenges throughout.
Don't know too much about this as yet, they're still in discussions about the 2014 event. Here's the 2013 website.
Know of any we've missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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