I did the Total Warrior run on both Saturday 21st June and Sunday 22nd June, in what they called the Super 10 weekend. Why would I do such a thing? I’m not entirely sure I know, but perhaps the account below will shed some light on the matter or my state of mind.
Total Warrior was advertised as a 10km+ obstacle run with 25-30 obstacles designed alongside ex-military personnel in order to test strength, stamina, and mental determination. The organisers had also stated that, “For anyone crazy enough to attempt both days – Super 10 Weekend – we are offering up to a 30% discount. Less than 2% of the 6000 competitors accepted this challenge in 2013!” How could I resist? As time drew closer, the organisers announced that the actual distance would be 12.5km, indicating that now we knew exactly what the + meant. Still, what was the worst that could happen I thought, even if I was to do it on both days?
I turned up on the Saturday and managed to register with a bit of time to take in the atmosphere. The sun was shining and there were loads of people sitting around as spectators or getting ready to start. Since people set off in waves, there were also some who had finished, so I could get an idea of just how muddy and tired I might get by the end. Most people were wearing some form of t-shirt or vest, but I had decided to work on my tan and not wear a top. It would also help avoid extra laundry! When I crawled through some tyres and into the starting pen, those around me were getting psyched up by the starting official. I didn’t bother with any of that nonsense. It’s worth pointing out now that my memory of exactly what I encountered and where may be slightly inaccurate because I had other things on which to focus, including fun, rather than memorising the exact course.
I heard 3, 2, 1, and then we were off amidst yellow smoke. First up we had to run up and down a grassy, uneven hill 4 times before running into some trail-type area. It was steep and even at this point, people were either taking a walking break on the way up or at the top on the way back down. After this, came another grassy hill, but this time, we were crawling under a cargo net until the top. I suppose wearing a top would have reduced some of the scratching on my back, but that was all part of the experience. We then went back into the trees and then into some water going under a small bridge, followed by thick mud through which we had to stomp whilst not losing our shoes. This mud was quite deep and thick in places, sometimes making me feel like I was sinking, which made it all the more challenging. Some people fell over and others needed a hand to get them going again, it seemed a bit like thick treacle, only not as tasty or pleasant smelling. Crawling through some pipes that came out into a bit of muddy water helped clean me off a bit though because otherwise, the mud would have been weighing me down as I ran along more trail paths. I realise saying the water helped clean me off seems strange since it was not really clean water, but rather muddy water, but still, it helped. There was more mud and a muddy steep and slippery hill before we came out to a more open area where it was possible to run a bit quicker. It was at these points that I decided to keep going to achieve a good result, rather than slow down and recover by walking as a lot of others were doing in such places. I think the phrase might be ‘active rest’! We then climbed over some haystacks before hitting the woods again for more running. Upon leaving the woods we ran towards some horizontal logs at varying heights. We were instructed to crawl under the low logs and to climb over the high logs, which was made harder because they appeared to be greased. My foot did slip on a couple of occasions, and I also seemed to scratch my stomach at several points whilst twisting over these logs. Once over these logs, of which there were about 8, there was a bit more running before we came to several fences of varying heights, some about 8 feet and some a bit higher. There were no footholds and so it was a case of jumping up and then pulling yourself over the top before jumping down – good job my ankle is better! The final fence was a little bit cheekier because it was angled towards you as you approached and about 8 feet high with about 3 foot grooves. You could put your feet in the grooves, but owing to the angle, it was harder to get over, and several people around needed a boost on this as well as some of the earlier fences. After pulling myself up and over the previous fences, this one was a test. Again, there was more running on grassy fields until we encountered a water station. I decided since it was warm to refresh myself with some clean water rather than rely on any dirty water that I may have inadvertently swallowed, and then carried on running another kilometre or so before the next challenge, the traverse. This was a wall with footholds and handholds that you used to move horizontally across the fence. The footholds were at varying lengths apart, and I do remember having to stretch what seemed to be quite an uncomfortable distance on one occasion, and almost jump a little to get a secure handhold as well. If you fell off the fence, you landed in dirty water of an unknown depth. The next item I faced only a short distance after the traverse was an extremely dirty pond with plants and other things floating along the top. It did make me wonder exactly through what I was passing, and I was sure to not take too long a step and risk getting any water near my mouth. Once out of this pond, I came upon the log carrying area. Here we had to pick up a little log and go up a hill and then back down, before depositing the log and moving on. The picture below shows me running up the hill carrying the log.
It may look small, but considering all the previous activity, it was still somewhat heavy, and because it didn’t have a smooth surface, it was a little uncomfortable to carry. Some people carried the log up on their shoulder whilst walking, but I found that to be cumbersome whilst running, so opted to carry it down by my stomach. More running followed before I got to crawling through tyres and then through more pipes partly filled with muddy water where I encountered a few slugs.
After more, brief, running, it was BBQ time. I noticed some logs up ahead that were on fire in front of some muddy water. Obviously, I decided that speed and height were required. As I was running towards the logs, I shouted a question at one of the marshals, basically asking him how deep was the water. His reply was, “You can have some fun with it!” Therefore, I added fun to the speed and height formula. What I discovered was that the depth of the water was more than I had thought even based on the marshal’s comment, and I ended up totally immersed upon landing. The photos below show the jump and result!
My muddy cleanliness was only short-lived, however, because there were more muddy trenches through which I had to wade, with people falling and getting a bit stuck as well. This was followed by a bit of trail running and onto the ice dip. Yes, we climbed into a skip filled with icy water, had to dunk ourselves under the beam that ran across the skip, and then climb out. I passed one woman who was trying to psyche herself up to dip her head under the water, and this did not appear to be very successful, taking several attempts it would seem. After another kilometre of running or so, there was more muddy trenches and muddy water before we came to the dangling electric wires through which we had to run. Best take this at some pace, I thought! I don’t remember feeling that much, but what with the speed and adrenaline, perhaps this helped. I then ran up a rather steep hill and got to the water slide. I discovered at this point that I had caught up to people who had set off about 1 hour before me. After getting down the water slide, the monkey bars were next.
Falling off would have meant falling into more deep and cold water, so this was not an option. With wet hands, though, this proved complicated, and plenty of people were falling into the water. This only left the final obstacle, called ‘peaks of pain’. It was basically some wood at an angle with rope hanging halfway down. You had to run at the wood and up it before trying to grab the rope and pull yourself to the top. Some people who had made it to the top were offering others help, which generally seemed much appreciated. After all I had been through, this one particular obstacle was the most difficult for me to surmount. Once at the top, you climbed down and ran through the finish line to collect a beer, a t-shirt, a bottle of water, a protein bar, and a buff.
Day 2 brief highlights
Arriving at the same course on the following day, some 22 hours after first embarking on the course, I seemed strangely calm. There were a few areas of my body that had taken a bit of a battering and I could feel them protesting. The calmness started to change a little when I was in the starting area and, looking upon the first hills I thought, “What am I doing?” My brother was also running in this wave with a few friends [they had only chosen to do it only on this day], and I had joked about some of the obstacles. I do remember briefly on guy who came up to me before the start and said, “you did this yesterday didn’t you?” I confirmed I had, and we briefly spoke before the start. I don’t remember this person from the first day, but I must have stood out somehow. I later manage a hi-5 and “hey” as I passed him coming back along a certain part of the course. Despite some lingering nerves, I set off full of vigour. I managed to stay ahead of my brother and his friends until just after the 5km mark when they passed me helping each other over one of the fences. If I’m honest, I don’t really remember much about the second day on the same course. Throughout the course, I did encounter a few other people who commented that they had done the course the day before as well. Overall, I improved my performance on this day as opposed to the first day by 23 minutes. It may sound difficult to fathom, but I think it can be put down to a few factors. One factor is that even though I couldn’t exactly remember where every obstacle was located, I generally was more aware of what I was facing. In addition, I probably wanted to get the experience over as quickly as I could. Finally, I think I managed to zone out more on the second day. One interesting and I suppose amusing problem looking back occurred on the water slide though. This time, I had decided to go down feet first on my back rather than face first on my front as I had on the first day. However, partway down, I somehow got spun around going head-first on my back. Since this was likely to end in disaster, I managed to spin myself around so that I was going head-first on my front. It must have looked quite a site to the spectators! The other amusing occurrence was on the final obstacle. This was the wet angled fence that we had to run up to grab the rope halfway up and pull ourselves to the top. I ran at it ready to jump slightly and take a few steps up before grabbing the rope. My heart and head was full of bravery, it was just my legs that let me down. Instead of complying with my plan, they did nothing and I ran full on into the fence. That certainly got the adrenaline going!
Am I glad I did both day? I have to answer yes. Did it hurt? Again, I have to answer yes. Indeed, my chest was quite sore over the next few days, and I had a variety of new cuts and scrapes on various parts of my body. I guess it was the hardest event I’ve done, not least because it was the longest, but also because it was done twice in one weekend. Still, I’d do it again because it was fun and only slightly ridiculous, and the beer went down well!