Nuts wouldn't be Nuts without the boundless energy of Lee Fuller. Whether he's in beast mode or a lobster suit, you can always count on a turnout from our favourite, formerly hirsute funstacle captain. Here's how his Limitless attempt went this year...
I love The Nuts Challenge: I enjoy the simplicity of the course and I'm pretty sure anyone could run one lap of Summer Nuts and have a great time. However on that very same same course, Winter Nuts is known as one of the toughest events in UK OCR. It has won UK's toughest event at the Mudstacle awards on more than one occasion, and it can make a grown man cry . The idea of 'Limitless' laps was first raised in summer 2017, and I was part of the crack team of 'athletes' picked to test the concept.
Nuts Limitless, for those of you who are new to the idea, took the same cut offs from 4 laps (6 hours to be on your last lap) and gave you free rein to complete as many laps as possible. This year marked the second Winter Limitless- last year only two people managed 5 laps. I missed out on the cut off by just over 5 minutes (which was the driving force for this years attempt). Not wanting a repeat of last year's performance was at the forefront of my mind.
Coming down with the mother of all man flu for the week before wasn't ideal. Thankfully I had managed to shift most of it by the start line on Sunday. With Nuts being an OCRWC qualifier, Limitless gave people a chance to qualify by “just” completing 5 laps. Obstacle completion was still mandatory on each lap. Those attempting Limitless for OCRWC qualification or prize money were given a purple bib and the instruction: complete everything, keep your bib.
Fail, and say goodbye to the purple goodness and the chance for big bucks and qualification.
On the start line, Stu Amory gave his usual high energy pre-race briefing and motivational speech before he released us into the wilds of the Nuts course for the next 6+ hours.
Lap one is always a nice quick lap; the ground is still relatively solid and free from course congestion. A fast lap is possible, and gets you into a rhythm. For a chance at the illusive fifth fifth lap within the 6 hour cut off you have to average 90 minutes for a 7km lap. This sounds easy on paper, until you remember the relentlessness of the Nuts course; obstacles and mud. I was feeling pretty good on course, completing my first lap in 1:10, banking me 20 minutes to use later on in the day.
After a quick pitstop consisting of some condensed milk and lucozade (not at the same time - that would be weird), it was time to get back out for lap two. It was still quite quiet on course and allowed for easy movement over obstacles and the ground was still fairly solid with only a few loose mud patches.
I was actually enjoying the running sections for a change and had settled at a nice pace running with Jamie, a fellow Mudstaclite who was back for 4 laps after time away. It seemed like a couple of conversations later and lap two had been completed. 14km, 2:28 on the clock (a lap time of 1:17), meaning a total of 32 minutes had been added to the “Oh god, I'm tired and slowing down” fund, and things were looking and feeling pretty good.
Lap Three, When the Going Gets Tough…
I often joke about how three laps of Nuts seems the best decision. It's far enough to be a challenge, but short enough that things don't become a sufferfest. Pitstop number two was conducted as the first, then it was back out in the cold wind and rain. The reality of limitless started to hit. I was not even half way yet.
I knew I had time spare, so could afford to drop the pace a little bit, aiming for a 90 minute lap. This was complicated, as by lap three the course has seen a few more runners coming through, with three and two lap runners also joining the fray. The mud pits had predictably turned into treacle; any thicker and I'm pretty sure you could have run across the top of it. The technical section seems to become a lot harder one lap three- I don't know if it's the extra tonne of mud you're carrying, the extra tonne of mud on the obstacles or the fact everything is starting to hurt, but even simple monkey bars start to pose a challenge. The ability to decide which part of obstacles you do in this section helps though, picking the log crawl over the monkey bars on the rig gave my forearms a rest and meant less chance of a slip. Back onto the main course, it was busier still with more one lap charity runners starting to appear out of the long grass. The chance to chat with new people is always welcome, even if it is just a “Hey how you doing? Are you enjoying yourself?” as you squeeze past them.
New runners helps the dynamic of the Nuts course, stopping it from feeling lonely. I like it anyway, and managed to get round lap three in high spirits. 21km down, 3.54 on the clock (1:26 lap time), so pretty much on pace for where I wanted to be.
Lap Four… The Tough Get Going
At pit stop three, it was time to break out the big guns. Pizza time! Thanks to Roy, some hot water from Tailwind, Lee is READY.
Lap four is the biggy: it's the lap you need to finish before 2pm to be allowed to go for lap five. There were hours left on the clock and it was game time. Heading back out of transition, I knew making the fifth lap was within reach, I just had to keep moving forward, breaking out the jog whenever possible (a technique I'm calling “Nuts protocol”). I managed to get through the technical area without any issues and it was going well, until the first water stop of the lap.
Things went downhill - I felt sluggish and even the paintball field run felt tough. The weather was starting to go “full Nuts.” The rain and winds picked up quickly, threatening to blow me off course. Luckily a swig of coke raised my spirits and energy levels to get me through the last few kms to the end of the lap. I think the knowledge that it was almost over, that lap 5 wasn't going to get away from me, meant it was full power all the way back into transition. Lap four down: 28kms and the important figure 5:35 on the clock (1:41 lap time) meant I had smashed the cut off with 25 minutes to spare. Time to party.
Lap 5, Victory Lap
The last lap is always a fun one. You're bruised, broken and really, really tired. Knowing that it's almost done (well, if 7km and about two hours of course time can be called almost) and the time pressure is off means you can just enjoy the grind. I've called it the victory lap, because as long as nothing major happens, it's game set and match.
A caffeine fuelled pitstop consisting of caffeine bullets and paracetamol had me out once again onto course. It was a slightly emotional start because this time I had made it. Lap five was full of thankyous to marshals and shouts of encouragement on the way round. The last lap always goes by in a blur, seeming far quicker than it actually is. Suddenly you are at the last slide into the freezing cold lake and just like that, it's over the finish line for the last time. 35kms done. 7:15 in total.
Would I do it again? We’ll have to wait and see, but Limitless Nuts is unique in its challenge, and should be a bucket list event for anyone wanting to test themselves against one of the toughest events on the calendar.
Registration is open now for next year, are you up for the challenge?
Winter Nuts 2020 Registration
Photo Credit: Tony Jarvis Photography