Running is no longer enough, it seems. Now people need to prove themselves by adding obstacles in a run. And mud. This is not good news for someone who happily falls into the category of “average club runner”. This is double not good for an average club runner averse to mud. I don’t like mud, never have done, and whilst I can tolerate it now, my natural instinct is to avoid.
So how did I find myself at the start of a muddy obstacle race? Here’s the story:
At a conference, a colleague was telling me what jolly, good fun these muddy race things were. I rolled my eyes but somewhere in my mind my self development work kicked in and I heard the words “comfort zone” and creating barriers”. I asked myself whether “I don’t like mud” was a good enough excuse? Afterall, I can run and I love a physical challenge and who knows when I might need to run through mud to escape baddies.
Roll on a couple of months and I find myself leaving home early on an October morning and parking up in a field on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells. I pretend it’s just an ordinary trail run, attach my number and enter the warm up area (all the time reassuring my colleague that I was fine, but reminding him that I wasn’t looking forward to it). To be honest, I really wasn’t sure if I could do it,which sounded ridiculous but real in my head. The starting gun was fired and a steep descent led to a winding path through the wood. And then, there it was: a dank, muddy stream to cross. I paused for a while whilst my co-competitors happily jumped in and gave myself a quick talking to. I took a deep breath and gingerly (as gingerly as you can when you’re waist deep in mud and old water) made my way across the stream and scrambled out the other side remembering to breathe again once I’d got out.
The good news is that I made it round the rest of the course. I still had the voice in my head telling me I was going to end up face first in the mud until I’d cross the finish line but I kept going – lots of deep breaths and each obstacle gave me the confidence to tackle the next one.
I didn’t enjoy it.
I felt a massive sense of achievement.
Now I know that I can run a muddy, obstacle race. No plans to enter another one though!