Monday, 24 October 2011

Swanbourne Endeavour Race Report

Well this was like no other 10km race I have ever entered! This was a
race with a difference with an array of barmy army obstacles along the
entire stretch of the route with a final finale which was simply
mental. I don't want to give away too much so get comfortable whilst I
walk/run you through the course and the race itself.

This was a team event and I was part of a 5 strong LBAC squad called
'This is NOT Champneys'. The team time would be the accumulation of
the 5 individual times combined. We had a mix of runners men and
women. With Snowdonia marathon just a week away I told myself that I
wouldn't race this one hard, but who am I kidding. I just don't know
the meaning of hanging back and I wanted to contribute to the team
effort and post a competitive time.

And so with the blast of a cannon to signal the start of this
'nautical themed' XC race we were off!! The first obstacle was right
ahead of us... Haybales that took us over a wall and off the
otherside. And then across a field ahead of us where I found myself
leading. There was no hanging back :-) The next set up was a large
field on an incline that they had roped off to create a maze of
shuttle runs down and back up, down and back up 5 times. This was
already spreading the field and by the end of the 5th shuttle run I
had opened a nice gap to 2nd place. Next up was a few more haybales
and some mud before entering a straight stretch with 2 or 3 pits
filled with water. These were taken at speed with about 2-3 steps into
the water before leaping out the other side. This signalled the start
of what was to come with a constant dunking in various 'water
features' on route.

The next memorable obstacle was a 50 metre crawl through mud along a
shallow gulley with barbed wire just above the head and bum! This
required a shuffle forward flat out on the stomach using the forearms
to pull yourself along the mud and stones with the legs being dragged
behind. I got the technique pretty good but it was really energy
zapping. I snagged my lyrca compression shorts once on the barbed wire
too but fortunately just a small hole resulted saving any embarassment
that would have been caused if it was any bigger! :-O

I eventually reached the end of the gulley and continued on my way for
a km or so along the side of fields. I noticed that I had gashed my
knee on the previous section either from dragging it along the ground
or from catching it on the barbed wire but thought nothing more of it.
Certainly no time to inspect the damage at this point.

My lead by this point had grown to around a minute. The next fun
section was along the length of a nettled filled narrow river which
was about 1-2ft deep. It must have gone on for well over 400 metres at
a guess, perhaps a bit more even as it wound it's way through dence
woodland. I listened out for any splashing from behind but all was

Out of the river and following the tape in the woods led to the next
obstacle which was a series of logs at waist height which you
alternated between going over and under. Sounds easy enough but the
legs were feeling it a little by this point. Past this and it was a
few more fields and down to the next water feature. The inclusion of a
blue rope across the pond suggested that this one may be a little
deeper than the others! I took the plunge and found myself at chest
height in brown muddy murky pond.... Lovely. I pulled on the rope with
a left over right hand technique and took big strides to carry me
across. A stumble at the end on a sunken ledge had me neck deep with
the marshall just infront of me offering no hint what lay ahead. But
thinking about it now how would he of known. I doubt he took the
plunge at any point. I grabbed whole of some folliage to pull me out
and battled on.

More fields and an extended lead to nearer 2 minutes or so saw me
'plough' on ahead. I was having a lot of fun which was the reason for
entering this event in the first place and I was wondering what else
may lie ahead. My question was answered with another barbed wire
crawl. This one was shorter thankfully with no snags this time!!! I
didn't once look at my watch to check the time or work out how far I
had gone but I had the feeling that the finish line wasn't too far
away now.

A few fields later and I spotted some spectators in the far distance
as I closed in on what would be one hell of a finale!! They had
definitely saved the best for last but had I saved anything to meet
the challenge that lay ahead? Before that however was one last fuel
stop but what they were serving was certainly not evian!! No sir...
Instead we were treated to a shot of rum which certainly got the fires
burning inside. And this wasn't the only fire as I will come to

First up on the home straight (although it was anything but straight)
was a double height haybale wall to clamber over, next up was a pit of
FIRE that you had to jump over!! I'm not kidding. And with many
spectators looking and cheering on I had to be the showman and elected
to leap over the largest flame. I figured that I was drenched enough
to not be a fire hazard!! This was followed by several scramble nets
that you had crawl under in the mud followed by several several pits
of water in quick succession with a very low beam across them meaning
that the only and quickest way through was to roll down through the
water and under the beam and clammer up the other side. As I was doing
this there were loads of kids all running beside me cheering me on
which felt great. There were more nets, more haybales, more fire and a
tunnel half full of muck and water that you had to crawl through. And
then if that wasn't already enough I was handed a wooden log of
significant proportions with rope handles tied to each end which I had
to carry for about a 200m+ loop. Unbelieveable!

From there I was almost home (but certainly not dry!!). A small climb
later and up and over a wall and I had finished ringing the captains
bell to sound my 1st place victory. Now I know how captain Nelson must
have felt!! What a rush!!!

The warm taste of victory and hot tea at the finish was very sweet
indeed. Whilst time is completely irrelevant on a course like this i
finished in a clip over 48 minutes. 2nd and 3rd came in virtually
together at around 51 minutes. The other 4 LBACers were soon back too.
Jane was 2nd women home!! We exchanged views on just how awesome the
course was and just what a fantastic event this was and had our photos
taken. We have to await the full results to find out if we claimed the
team prize.

The entry fee may have been a little steep but it was a not for profit
race with all the proceeds once costs were covered going to 3 army
based charities so you definitely can't complain about that. On the
knee front I saw the St John Ambulance folk at the finish who took a
look and told me I required a trip to A&E to get it stitched up. You
gotta be joking I thought... It's a mere flesh wound!! Anyway one trip
to Boots later with some steri-strips purchased I sorted out the gash
myself and all should be good for next weekend and Snowdonia!! Bring
it on baby cos I'm ready!!!

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