I know, the title doesn’t make this sound very appealing, but stick with me on this one. The pain barrier described itself as as 10k mud run where participants would face hills and ravines, extreme mud and woodland trails, and ponds and water obstacles. I entered this event shortly after completing a Spartan race in August 2012, without much thought, and had even less idea about exactly what this would be like or involve. However, the race information on the website did identify 4 specific ‘challenges’: the pool of punishment, the horrific hills, the swamp of suffering, and the dips of despair. Again, these may not inspire confidence or a willingness to participate, but still.
I arrived at the car park in plenty of time, a full hour before the scheduled start, and picked up my run pack. There was a cold air that morning, so I stayed in my car once I’d got ready to stay warm. The organisers had pointed out prior to this event to bear in mind that it will be “December in the north” and to dress accordingly. When it was getting close to the start time, I made my way to the starting area along with all the other participants. People were stretching and warming up, music was playing, and the organisers were getting everyone cheering. Then, after a short countdown, we were off running across a field, slightly downhill, before entering some woodland.
There were several points during the run where we encountered cold and muddy water. When I say cold, I do mean cold because there was ice on the ground, and once my feet were wet and cold, they remained this way to the end. The final water experience was deep enough to come up to my chest. Layers of clothing were of little benefit. There were some hills that you could run up or take at a slightly slower pace, but there were also several ravines that you had to scramble up, and at times we were sliding down whilst trying to go up. I was wearing gloves due to the cold and decided to take one of them off and put it in my pocket to help me get a grip on the ground. I later lost this glove in the swamp of suffering, which annoyed me; it also made me think that next time maybe I would not bother with gloves even if my hands were cold. Going down the hills was equally treacherous and most of us ended up sliding down these and crashing into each other.
The entire run took me 1 hour and 22 minutes. I did get stuck behind people at some points, which slowed me down; trying to pass people was not always possible due to the terrain, at least for me. After the run, we were given a goodie bag, which included a nice technical t-shirt, and we were also given a medal. I may not have convinced people to do these type of events, but I was glad I’d done it, and the camaraderie you get in these events is so much more than I’ve noticed in regular runs and races. This, for me, makes them enjoyable and wanting to do more. The organisation was also very good, which is always helpful in ensuring a good experience. Before anyone says no to ever doing any type of event like this themselves, I think they should give them more consideration, specifically regarding how they may help your general running and fitness, as well as help your mental game. Also, what’s the worst that could happen? If any of you feel you have missed out and want to do something like this, worry not, there are more planned! If anyone is interested, I have posted some pictures up on Twitter that show just how much fun I had during the run.