You can't beat a local race, and SOTF Nottingham is very local for me. I don't need sat nav, I don't need to make a packed lunch or leave before the sun has risen. Oh the joy, and smugness of knowing I get a bit of lie in, as I know the course, I know the route, and know exactly what to wear. I am a seasoned professional when it comes to this little gem.
You f*cking twat! You and your arrogance! Turns out, they've moved the event village and parking! I'm desperately going through my deleted emails looking for the 'Essential Race Day Information' that Rat Race sent me. Taa Daa. There it is in BIG BOLD letters:
*NEW LOCATION* for 2017 – Holme Pierrepont Country Park and National Water Sports Centre, NG12 2LU
I punch in the new address, and drive 15 minutes from the old site to the new.
Luckily Rat Race is a machine, and you get processed through registration super quickly; I even had chance to chance to catch up with other Mudstaclites, and the beautiful Pete Rees for five minutes before my wave began.
The classic Rat Race start, full pace at a trio of hay bales: I love this. I love this so much. It's a proper bun fight, with elbows, feet, heads, knees all flying around trying to get over the first obstacles in the opening 50 metres. Things soon settle down, and I am in the race properly now. The new course is great; the obstacles are coming thick and fast and I'm still in SPRINT-off-the-line mode, and attacking everything at full power. Then suddenly as I jump down from the monkey bars, my right hamstring cramps and feels very sore. I walk for a minute or so, and things start to feel normal again. The pain goes, and it was if it never even happened!
There are so many obstacles I'm not going to bother listing them, but what I do want to talk about is the WATER. We are racing in the grounds of the national water sports centre so there is plenty of water about and we are sent down slides, on wades across lakes and ponds, we're running across floating pontoons, leaping across gaps on these pontoons, then. THEN. Then I saw them.
"This way mate."
"Yeah, jump in."
"These are for us?"
Kayaks Baby! I leap in a kayak, and I'm handed a paddle, "Off you go round that ramp and back." BOOM! I love a kayak, but it's something I've only really done on holiday, so this was such an epic treat. Everyone in their kayaks was having a blast, splashing each other, trying to capsize each other. I obviously went into full pirate mode and started trying to splice the main brace and prepare to be boarded. I was buzzing for several kilometers after the kayak sections.
Approaching the event village I was pretty tired and sore, and was faced with a stack of obstacles in final 200 metres. The final wall was a brute, but I dragged my self over and was super happy to finish. It was a very tough 1h25mins of running and playing, but I loved it.
And as a little bonus, here's some footage of our resident Machine, Natasha Mansell dominating the course, coming in as first lady! With thanks to MyBibNumber for the cover image.