The Yorkshire Terrier
By Peter Persico
The Yorkshire Terrier is a dog of the terrier type developed in the 19th Century in Yorkshire to catch rats in clothing mills and mine shafts. But you may be pleased to hear that I’m not writing about dogs, rather about a 10km obstacle night run that took place on Saturday 9th March 2013 organised by Rat Race Adventure Sports. The organisers described this event as “a tough run in hilly woodlands”, and also said that “the route will be rough, steep, muddy, slippery, and wet, wet, wet. It will include natural and man-made obstacles, and half-way round you will encounter one obstacle where you should expect to get very wet”. In addition, they stated that you may need to concentrate to avoid twisting an ankle or getting poked in the eye by a low branch. Since the event would involve running in complete darkness, a fully charged and functioning head-torch was mandatory. So, why would I [or anyone for that matter] sign up and then show up for such an event? I’m not going to deal with that obvious question just yet!
The start and finish of this run was in the Newburgh Priory estate in Coxwold, North Yorkshire, running through the edge of the North York moors in the Howardian Hills. Before collecting the race pack, each participant had to sign a ‘disclaimer’. This is not something that you tend to encounter in ‘normal’ races. From what I saw, neither I nor those around me actually appeared to read the information on the disclaimer; instead we just went straight to the part where we sign. I then collected my race pack and got myself ready with the two other people who had come from Motiv8 North. I had decided to dress in a tweed flat cap, a white shirt, a bow-tie, and shorts. In the end I chose not to wear the bow-tie because when my top button was fastened, it limited my oxygen intake so would have become an issue when breathing more heavily.
At the start, it was noticeably cold, and my fingers were very cold and my lips were shaking. I was starting in wave 2 out of 3 [each wave setting off 15 minutes apart] at 1745. The start of the run was up a hill that a fellow participant described as 45 degrees. On the way up that hill we encountered 3 lines of haystacks about 15m apart of increasing height over which we had to climb. The whole course was undulating and very muddy, and involved some rapid turns through the trees in the woodland. Other obstacles that we encountered included spider web [rope] in between some trees, climbing over a very large log, crawling under cargo nets, going through a waist-deep lake that at one point was shoulder-deep due to the uneven surface, climbing over fences, more haystacks and tires, and finally up a wet diagonal structure using a rope. Whilst going across some fields, we encountered also some sleet, but despite this and the water, I was warm all except my fingers even with gloves. It got dark a little after 1800, and when I looked behind me at various points, all I could see was a line of head-torches going back a long way like ants moving across the fields and hills. I didn’t go as fast as I could have all the time in part due my own head-torch and also so I could fully appreciate the fun. I did find my vision impaired by my breath hitting the light beam, which caused me to slow at points since I wasn’t sure of into what I was running; in addition, the back of my head-torch got caught in one of the cargo nets. So, things I have learned from this run: I need to get some tips on how to run with a head-torch [tips greatly received] and I need to get some lace locks because I had to stop about 5 times to tie a shoe lace [now acquired]. When I finished, I collected a medal, a bottle of water, and a chocolate bar. Some participants had taken up the option of camping overnight, and many headed over to the bar for some post-run refreshments and to compare stories, as well as to warm up.
So, to return to the earlier question of why would I sign up and then show up for such an event, I ask you to consider the following [if the above was not reason enough]. Sometimes, we forget the sheer pleasure that just running around and jumping, crawling, and slithering over stuff brought when we were children [unless you were born after health and safety got silly]. Also, you can’t obsess over split times on a GPS when you are jumping over obstacles or crawling through mud. So, though you generally don’t leave with a PB or clean clothes, you do tend to leave with a smile on your face. These events do aim [on the whole] to put some fun into what are undeniably physical challenges. I did leave with a smile on my face as I have after all such events I’ve entered in the past. I may also be slightly daft for doing these things, but will leave that for others to decide!
646 runners completed
1st male whippet 00:49:17 [from wave 1] 1st lady whippet 01:02:45 [from wave 1] Peter Persico 01:36:25 [I thought I was a bit quicker based on the timing of the finishing photo but hey!] Last whippet 03:10:42