Last weekend saw the launch of a range of Spartan Race Training camps in Pippingford Forest, West Sussex, that aim to be far more than your average outdoor fitness class. A few of Mudstacle's Facebook followers were lucky enough to win some tickets to the opening event and went down to check it out. To follow is how Phil Cole got on in the "Advanced" class. If you like the sound of it and want to attend some camps yourself, you can get a 10% discount by quoting "MUDSTACLE" when you book!
Sunday morning, 8:30am and eight intrepid mud run fans gather in the beautiful Pippingford Park in the spring sunshine ready to endure 4 hours of the Advanced Spartan Race Training camp.
Our instructor for the morning is Michael Cohen, certified Spartan Race Training UK Head Coach and the man behind the Wild Forest Gym Obstacle Race Training. Joining us on our endeavors, and lumbered with our drinks and energy bars is Spartan Race UK Director, Dean Newman.
It wasn’t long before we were all ready to start and got introduced to our new best friend, a 6ft long log that we would be taking with us wherever we went. As we headed off down the hill into the woods Michael instilled in us our team mentality and that it was down to us to work together to get through the morning’s events.
After a while running up and down the hills through the trees, being careful not to take each other out with our logs, and going through some concrete tunnels, we stopped for some technique training - and a fair amount of ridicule from Michael over our now muddy and scratched knees.
One of the fundamental aspects to the training was to help us to ‘race safe’ - ensuring that we would learn the skills and techniques to help us get round the Spartan and other obstacle races without injuring ourselves, or others. First up was bear walking (no more muddy, scratched knees from tunnels - hopefully), followed by safe rolling (for those trips on uneven ground or high drops). Then we balanced along fallen trees (helping to focus on core strength and balance) , perfected sticky landings from long jumps (to help prevent you from going head first into a tree/ditch/other competitor) and practicing on the ever-reliable 8ft wall.
A brief rehydration and we were off with our best friends once more through some shrubbery and into the first of a few streams that we would be visiting. While the sunshine provided a comfortable, pleasant warmth, the water in the streams was like ice. Thankfully we only got to waist-deep before heading back to shore again to practice rope crossings. This involved crossing standing on a low rope while holding a higher one and then going across on the higher one by hanging underneath (without shredding the back of your legs in the process).
Once practiced and perfected, and a little wetter than before, we moved onto grips and holds using some of the nicely sized rocks next to the stream. Then it was back across the stream, this time with our best friend, and onto more techniques for scaling and descending steep, muddy slopes, some crab crawling and a press-up crawl made painfully long so that our fantastic photographer, Richard from Epic Action Imagery, could get the shots he was after - thanks Richard!
After a little more running with our logs to help warm everyone up we had to launch our logs in a variety of ways along a couple of hundred meter stretch and across a small stream. Then it was back into the water for an arduous wade through chest high water and sinking half way up my thigh in places into the thick mud at the bottom. I must admit that I gave up wading at one point and made good use of my best friend - resting on it while gently swimming along through the freezing water.
The last stretch of the day involved some more running through the trees (very welcome to help warm us up, as the sun had seemed to desert us), some cargo net training (always useful as a firm favourite on most mud runs) and a final run back up the hill to a warm cup of tea and dry set of clothes.
It was a great morning adventure and I have to say a huge thank you to Michael and Dean for putting the training session on, keeping everyone really motivated whilst still making it a fantastically light-hearted and educational outing.
Big thanks must also go to my comrades-in-arms, Jo, Kerry, Zayne, Tobias, Thomas, Stuart and Scott, who were all great fun and I look forward to meeting up with them at the Spartan Races, and other events, soon.
Finally thanks to Richard from Epic Action Imagery for taking the photos and putting them up on Facebook for us all to see and to Pete from Mudstacle for providing my ticket for the event.
All in all a great morning that I would highly recommend to anyone that has either taken place in a mud run or who is planning to try one (there is a beginner session too). As we said our goodbyes and headed home with our aches, scrapes and bruises but a huge smile on our faces, we got to say a brief ‘Good luck’ to the intrepid Beginners class attendees that were just turning up - knowing some of what they had in store for them!
There are plenty more Spartan Training Camps running throughout the year, find out more here. And don't forget to quote "Mudstacle" when you book for a 10% discount!