Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Cycling From Bestwood Country Park to Sherwood Pines Along Route 6

The Dirty Muddy Thirties Now Has a YouTube Channel

It's been a while since we picked up an SJCAM 4000. We've fancied doing some videos for a while so it seems a good idea over the winter for us to set up some from our adventures. Here's out first proper video following National Cycle Route 6 from Bestwood Country Park near Nottingham up to Sherwood Pines Forest Park to join their Blue cycling trail for a dash around to the visitor centre for coffee and cake.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Red Bull Robin Hood Review 2015- Orienteering Meets Obstacles

Jemma's Adventure at the Red Bull Robin Hood 2015- Orienteering Meets Obstacles

Jemma ready to roll out at the 2015 Red Bull Robin Hood, Sherwood Pines

This event couldn’t be in a better position than on the doorstep at Sherwood Pines.  So when this came up for 2015 Liam quickly signed up for it as I left a little too late and all the individual tickets was sold out.  Trying to get a team together was proving difficult than I anticipated asking round my CrossFit box and the usual Facebook boards was able to secure myself a place.  With the coming Edinburgh MHSOF Liam pulled out because a knee injury which left him not doing the Nottingham Half Marathon Men's Health event.  The entry was then passed over to me by default (Wink, wink). 
With the event been so close to home would be cheeky not to ride to Sherwood Pines, with the misty start I ended up taking off my glasses and riding without then as decided with slightly dry eyes not to wear my contact lenses.

Getting to Sherwood Pines and the great people at Pines cycles looked after my bike quick change of shoes off to register at the event there was loads of people all dressed up and acting as if from Medieval times to give a great vibe.  With plenty of coffee, water and of course Red Bull there was enough caffeine in my body to keep me going for some time.  After been given last minute prep talk from Liam on what to do.  Jemma remember we are north of the forest if you get lost.  Who he was kidding me get lost absolutely is going to happen if someone was to back me to get lost 1st I would be the 2/1 favourite.  Liam bid me farewell as I went for my briefing as was going to play on and around the red route and would see him later on.  No doubt muddy.

The Red Bull Robin Hood Event Village

Robin Hood gave a brief talk about what was going to happen regards the event and was lead into the forest where a Red Bull gazebo was erected with more Red Bull on offer to drink.  Never mind that I was in need of the little girl’s room now.  So it seems every guy had the same idea as well and saw plenty of men finding their own spot.  After finding a suitable area was time to make a circle which was given a map scroll to read one minute before the start of the race.  Looking at the map couldn’t even find where I was with where I was on the map.  This wasn’t looking good already and the flow of people in equal measures went separate ways.  For the next 75 and a few minutes extra (will get to those few minutes extra shortly).  Bumped into a couple and kind of tagged along with them and between the three of us trying to find A, where we was B, where that pesky checkpoint was, C try and complete some tasks.  The two tasks we did encounter was the Sherry cask barrel roll and flip to get extra marks which I did with ease.  The second one was a balance beam with a broom which wasn’t allowed to touch the ground or the wood frame.  Me and co-ordination, well that didn’t do so well with the 3 allotted attempted I failed.  But off we went.  After getting a checkpoint it dawned on us three we need to head back as we had 20 ish mins left and a bit patchy on where we was.  Making a move and landmarks not exactly presenting itself estimated that was about few miles from the finish oops.  After finding where needed to go I ended up running ahead as the Lady in the couple was flagging and with basic direction and two groups of walkers I found the finish yes I was 8 minutes late = 80 points deduction  leaving me a grand total of 30 points.  At least was a minus number great fun was had.  The weather was with us dry and sunny.  Liam had much fun on his bike all over Sherwood Pines and was at the end to congratulate me on me at least finding the finish line

Monday, 2 November 2015

An Adventure at the Rat Race Coast to Coast

A Challenge a Year in the Making- The 2015 Rat Race Coast to Coast Event

By Jemma Bates

Jemma and Liam at registration in Nairn
The Coast to Coast event has been the main goal for this year’s training.  This for me has taken a lot of hours training not just fitness but how to handle a mountain bike.  After investing in a Rockrider 8.1 with the bike to work scheme at work.  I had to get used to using lever gear changers which my previous bike had temperamental grip shift gear changer and able to use these gears effectively.  My usual cycling was easy commute riding between points which had no technical difficulty so the transition to off road riding was certainly interesting,

The main change which had to learn was clip less pedals and used an mtb shoe which again was all new to me.  I was sent o get used to wearing these shoes and bed them in spin classes at the local gym.  It didn’t take long to see having these shoes I could go faster on a spin bike but found it hard to get in and out of these pedals.  Liam assured me that with perseverance I would get better and be second nature releasing feet from them.  My first ride using the bike with these new pedals was interesting and had a few accidents with incorrect gear changing and my rubbish un-clipping ability.  I have swore many times using these as to me was having to re learn how to ride a bike again.  The 1st time I learnt was at the age of 7 almost 8 years old. Co-ordination and balance has never been a strong point.

What’s the point of doing some challenges if they were going to be easy?  I am not a natural athlete but steady progress is key and I had Strava to thank for that to get even a small positive from a supposed crap ride.  Fast forward it wasn’t till we had our holiday break in Newquay I had encountered a lot of road hills and many longer steeper hills than experienced at home.  From that Liam had been putting me through my paces at Sherwood Pines and other blue route locations in prep for the off road section in day 2 of the challenge.  I am sure there was a moment he was cursing me a lot and wondered will I actually get through this race.

Training for the Rat Race Coast to Coast

It's tough to train for such a big event but Liam helped give me some direction over the course of the year. Everything I've done has in some way helped with the preparation.

Bike riding- Building up to 50 mile cycle rides with cross country sections. I've been regularly riding down to the cycle routes at Sherwood Pines and riding back. It's a nice 20-odd mile ride if I follow NCN 6 from home, do a loop round the Blue intermediate trail and then head home all cross country. Hill, hills and did I mention hills (A week cycling around Newquay destroyed my Quads but I learnt a huge amount from it)

Running- Having a Rat Race season pass has stood me in good stead for this and helped developed what Liam calls my 'Diesel Engine'. From the tough hilly Deerstalker back in March to those torturous 20 miles of the Dirty Weekend through to the Trailblazer Half-Marathon events everything has been with a purpose towards the Coast to Coast. I had been hopeful of doing Man V Mountain but it was the weekend before the Coast to Coast and with such a demanding course there would be too much risk of me coming out of it in a worse condition which I didn't want on the run up to the Coast to Coast. However I'm determined to do them both next year after missing this year's event.

Kayaking. I have to admit that I was fortunate enough to get a small amount of practice at both the Stockton and London River Rat Race events so I was more experienced than Liam at something sporting for a change. I had been working plenty on my upper body strength and endurance too at the excellent Crossfit Hexis and this really helped. 

Kit Choices for the Coast to Coast  

We decided for me after reading past years racers experiences that having road tyres on my mtb and then change to knobbly tyres for day 2 which help and benefit ground conditions and would allow me to pick up pace on the road sections.  The road tyres I used was Nutrak 26 x 1.75 semi slick. .These tyres used the same inner tubes as my knobbly tyres and I was able to have greater speed and ease of riding when doing the road sections .  Having the same inner tubes means less equipment I need to take with me if should anything happen to the bike.

Choosing the right  bag which I would use to carry all the bits I would need for my Coast to Coast journey

Me and Liam was having a few discussions with this as I didn't want a bag too small and not fit everything in it and suggestions of a small light bag.  We then came to a joint decision of having the OMM last drop 10 litre bag would fit the job perfectly.  I must admit when it come from the Rat Race store it looked to be on the small side and I wondered will it fit everything in and be of any use at all.  I went on a few test runs and rides with it for feel of the bag and fit.

Getting the list of required items was needed to take with me was straight forward but to make sure was packed in the right bags for which day was a difficult one and shouldn't be rushed at all.  Liam's super cool organised approach did work out well.  Only one thing I forgot was my charger for my Garmin Forerunner 210 as there are charging points when you finish on day one in the food tent note for 2016 as this failed as we got to the Road run of the cycle leg of day two.

Prepping what you are going to eat while you are riding is a hard job which I still need to fine tune we took Peanut squares, Buttered Malt loaf, Flapjacks, Energy gels and a treat pack of beef jerky.  I found most of this OK to eat in tests done before hand and not sweet but in the saddle I found couldn't swallow or consume whilst moving and wont use again as food sources and with energy gels there is so many I can consume before I feel sick and unable to take on even when I need it which will be a battle for some time.

Getting to race day I have been a bag of nerves from getting my bike from been serviced to having my semi slicks put on my bike and to test ride on how will perform in the race.  I was not under any illusion would be quick nor find easy in fact I was shitting myself and questioning everything in my training and the events I had done before Coast to Coast.  After registering and getting my race numbers It was a case of having a good meal in my stomach and cast all feelings aside now if that wasn't hard enough.

Breakfast eaten we made our way to the start line and been scanned through awaiting our 1st run me and Liam already got our plan of action sorted the last mile or so he would run ahead and make sure our bikes which we left at Cawdor castle was OK and ready to go about the time I got there via having a wee stop. This worked fairly well with Liam vanishing up the trail with a mile to go on the run, no doubt putting the frighteners on a few of the people he flew past en route to the bikes. By the time I arrived at Cawdor Castle (I didn't actually notice a castle to be honest I was so focused), Liam had managed to get pretty much everything in order ready for us to hit the road. 

After getting all set up and ready for going again it was a case of keep going and trying not to stop.  This was a impossible task as every so often was needing to blow my nose from another re-occurrence of a sinus infection but this I think I ended up middle of the field which was happy with but I found some of the uphills not favourable. Especially the last massive climb which i did a Jemma special and selected the wrong gear and my chain came off. Not un-clipping quick enough I managed to fall off my bike ungracefully into the kerbside grass verge.  I don’t know if Liam was cursing me or not but he sorted me out and we slowly made our way upwards. I really had to dig in and grit my teeth but I was compensated with a great downhill which I was so thankful for Liam to follow for my path on the road as we flew past a few cautious riders as we dropped down to Fort Augustus.

 When we got to transition at Fort Augustus we had a short run and Kayak on Loch Ness.  Both me and Liam got soaked me from the waves and Liam with my shit paddling and wet him (sorry).  Both of us managed to get back to transition and that was end of day one with plenty of time to spare allowing us to wander around the beautiful Fort Augustus, grab a beer (well earned) and a nice bite to eat on the Locks. 

The main thing was trying to recover the best you can and take on as much food as possible in preparation for day 2.

Coast 2 Coast Day 2

Getting up early and packing our tent up back up making sure we hadn’t left anything behind.  Triple checked our rucksacks for day two as we needed few extra mandatory items to carry which was needed for day one.  Liam had now fitted the night previously my knobbly tyres onto my bike as we had a good 20 miles off road to do and 13 miles on the road. 

We set off in a never ending line of people and trying to get comfortable again on my bike.  This proved difficult as tiredness started to set into my legs and they took a while for them to be persuaded to work efficiently.  The wind from the Loch on the left was a constant for at least 5 miles while we cycled. 
When finally came away from the loch edge and some shelter started to feel more comfortable.  This was short lived as we had to briefly get off the bike and wheel into the woodlands by a single track and started to climb in the woodlands and gain attitude.  This started to worry me slightly now as starting to form clusters and with me have clip less pedals I know wasn’t overly efficient at getting out of and when going up an hill.  Me been myself had come very close to hitting another person’s back wheel as she stopped in front of me on a hill thankfully I yanked out my foot just in time.  Casually saying oops almost went into the back of you.  Liam was saying later on not best thing to say oops and comment as it may have unsettled the rider which isn't what is needed for riding in a group scenario.

The route had a lot of ups which I wasn’t used to for group riding with some loose uneven ground descents. For this I was absolutely terrified and got to a tight bend which even with a foot un-clipped I couldn’t manoeuvre. It didn't help that there were people falling off bikes around me too. I walked down very shaken and in tears the series of tight switchbacks and when I finally saw the bottom and pulled out the road again I was relieved especially as this was the first proper point I was able to take more gels or food on. The off road section didn’t give you much opportunity to eat. 

After calming down and trying to “woman up” unsuccessfully we started the road section where my Garmin watch now decided to die on me and we had to use Liam's

The Road cycle which we followed had some beautiful scenery and plenty of hills which by now i was flagging a lot. As we started to near Fort William it was a case of digging in and keep on moving and get mentally prepared for my next challenge the run 14 miles of it.  Liam had spotted ahead a garage and said you fancy a mars bar i nodded yes please and said follow ahead and get to the bike drop off point and he'll see me there shortly.

Once we arrived at the transition we was only allowed to stay there for 30 mins. Just enough time to get more food inside me go to the toilet and take out the backpack all cycling gear I wouldn’t require from this point onwards.  Liam was an angel and brought said mars bar in a form of a Mars Duo which I polished off very quickly. On any given day me to manage a mars bar is hard going for me but I wolfed it down. It was agreed that Liam was going to run on his own and have some fun time on his own without me- a first over the weekend.  Staying and running at my walking dead pace wouldn’t be good for us.  I know my running would be on a serious empty but if had to crawl that run stage I would do so.

The Final Walk- Run to Glencoe

As I left transition I started to lightly jog I managed to carry on till I got to the forest entrance and the slowly inclining fire road which then slowed to a fast power walk pace.  This pace i kept up till came to the top of that peculiar peak and when started to descend down which was uneven that for me was proving difficult.  Shower of rain came down and decided to put my Scott jacket on to protect me so wouldn’t get cold which I then kept on right to the finish line. 

I met a few people along the way and that broke up the journey.  The last four or five miles I was subjected to the midges and they seem to attract to me whether it was the sweat or they just liked my contact lenses.  This made it gruelling and at this point I had ran out of water and the halfway point station as I found out from Liam was giving water out had no water.  I couldn’t take on any more gels or flapjacks without body starting the process of bringing up the gel as quick as I had eaten it.  When I finally got to descend down the grassy muddy hill to get to the Kayak stage I was thankful for been over taken by a group which offered me liquids which happily drank.  Getting to the bottom I seriously felt I needed my x-talons as my grip and traction was nonexistent in my trailrocs.  This is something would do have different running shoes for each day to suit the type of running involved.

The views from the Kayak finish at the Isle of Glencoe Hotel
The Kayak stage was a short run from where was a small cue of us waiting to be assigned to a Kayak as i came on my own I was asked if wanted to kayak on my own and there was another person not far behind could join me on the Kayak so decided to wait.  The guy was quite cheery and we set off.  Wasn’t long till found my new partner in crime started to cramp and stopped paddling and left me trying to compensate which was hard as I was at the back of the Kayak.  There was much pleading and anxious moments before we got a rhythm back as wasn’t strong swimmer and getting ever so near to a island which we didn’t need to be near to.  The period of time in the water time stood still so when saw the finish point I knew was close to completing my 2015 big challenge.  Wobbly legs wouldn’t run fast but with hearing Liam cheer me from the point he could see was my kayak to seeing him the massive hug was amazing and yes I cried and to proceed to say well what a shit run I had done just under 6 hours it took me everything out of me but even with the poor run i have achieved more than ever done to date over the weekend

I did Coast to Coast in 15:36:06.
Challenge for 2016 is to beat this on my own.

The breakdown of my times for the Rat Race Coast to Coast 2015

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Cycling the Dukeries Trail. Warsop to Fledborough Viaduct

A Cycling Adventure in Sherwood Forest and North Nottinghamshire

It's nice to go on an adventure once in a while and now Jemma's getting towards Coast 2 Coast distances on the bike it seemed like the perfect opportunity to cycle a big section of the relatively new Dukeries Trail that runs from the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border towards central Lincoln. Some sections are a little rugged so knobbly tyres or semi-slicks on a mountain bike or hybrid are ideal.

We started out from Warsop, joinng the trail in the heart of Sherwood Forest although the official start is by the station in Shirebrook before heading through the Carrs into Warsop. The Dukeries Trail is a nice multi-user route that's quiet, relatively traffic free and offers the chance to explore much of North Nottinghamshire.

In Warsop we headed up Hetts Lane and then onto Burns lane before swinging a right by Assarts Farm and onto a rough Bridleway that takes us into the legendary Sherwood Forest from Gleadthorpe to Boundary Plantation where at the crossroads we took a left to join National Cycle Route 6 to Hazel Gap.

We always see a group of twitchers out at Hazel Gap with more money's worth of camera's, lenses and binoculars than we have invested in our bikes. No matter how much we try to persuade them we simply can't price from them just what they're looking at.

From Hazel Gap there's a bit of a climb up to the crossing with the A616 so care must be taken here but the section through Gibraltar Plantation is a nice excuse to push on through a relatively straight, flat section that offers a few kinks in the trail that can be taken at speed. The trail narrows before you cross the road again following the trail through the edges of Clumber Park.

Jemma cycling through Bevercotes
The trail through Clumber Park is nice and wide although part of the trail forms a link in the cycling network within Clumber so be prepared for families out for a gentle ride or walk along the multi-user trail.

As we exited Clumber out across the A614 we crossed the main road and joined a quiet country lane which felt a world away from the main road. We passed the 'Nodding Donkey' in the field beside the lane. A showcase of the quality of the land beneath the area from which high quality oil is extracted.

The Dukeries trail now took us via quiet roads through the village of Bothamsall before cutting through the old colliery grounds on a traffic free bridleway to the quiet but affluent village of Bevercotes.

A turn right uphill took us past Milton Mausoleum. This is the mausoleum of the Duchess of Newcastle who passed away in 1822 and is a remarkable building.

Cycling past Milton Mausoleum on the Dukeries Trail

The trail then took us through West Markham as it diverted away from the busier B1164 road crossing the A1 twice before a roller coaster of a hill into Tuxford. Tuxford ishome to a beautifully restored windmill which is also home to a tea room and is a great place to stop for a cuppa and reflect on your journey so far. Sadly for us the windmill was closed, despite it being a Saturday. They're usually open 10-4 except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I'm sure we'll head there for a coffee at some point.

Tuxford Windmill Tearoom. Sadly closed for us!

We followed the main road through Tuxford and turned right on the edge of the village up past the school and a camp site on outskirt of the village descending gently before darting underneath the railways.

Tuxford village, Nottinghamshire

After the railway bridge we quickly took a right turn up a single track road before being signposted straight on along a byway. The route guide which we weren't reading at the time advises that cyclists might wish to take the next section on foot and we could quickly see why as this was no more than a rough, heavily divoted track where sections of trail often simply disappeared from underneath you and wasn't a particularly nice experience. A clever look at the map on the return leg allowed us to divert away from this section of the route.

Upon leaving the rough byway we were spat out at the road into Fledborough.A quick glance right and we saw the track down onto the old railway line which now forms a big part of the Dukeries trail heading due east almost into the centre of Lincoln on a stone path suitable for mountain bikes and hybrids. I had hoped it might be paved so I could utilise the River Trent crossing as part of routes but I'll have to stick to Dunham Bridge and Newark in future.

We followed the trail past the now defunct Fledborough station sign on the track along to Fledborough Viaduct where we stopped and turned back on ourselves

Radon ZR Race 6.o outside Fledborough Station on the Dukeries Trail
Fledborough Viaduct over the River Trent

Fledborough Viaduct has a total of 814m in length which is over twice as long as the better known (and much taller) Ribblehead Viaduct. Apparently it took over 9 million bricks in it's construction at a meagre cost of £65000 which would be millions in today's money.

From the Fledborough Viaduct we re-traced our steps back to Warsop to log some pretty significant mileage in preparation for the upcoming Coast 2 Coast  event and had a nice afternoon ride in the sunshine.

A real Banksy spotted on the edge of Sherwood Forest?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

12.12 Peak District- Time for Liam to Dig Deep

It's hard to believe that it's 8 months since I broke my leg. Having spent the last few months finally starting to build back to a relative level of fitness I still hadn't entered a race event until now. With the Rat Race Coast 2 Coast race just a month away it seemed that I needed a test in August to see where my fitness was at.
At the start line of the Dig Deep 12.12 event in my Muddy Race top

Aside from a few 5-10 km obstacle race within sensible driving time I stumbled across the details for the Dig Deep Peak District running weekend with a couple of Ultra's on the Saturday followed by a tough looking 12.12 mile trail race and 10km. The 12.12 miler had an advertised 632 metres of ascent across the length of the course which sounded like it would create a great challenge to see where I'm at with my training now. I know I'm not really at a race fitness level running wise but just being able to enjoy a long event was key for me despite my usual competitive nature.

Training has been building up now and whilst I hadn't yet gone beyond 10 miles in training I was confident I have the cardiovascular fitness from cycling to get the the finish line. It's been a stressful time since the break and in honesty I was relishing the chance to see what the North-Eastern edges of the Peak District had in store. It's an area I've seen very little of in the past but the course was billed as taking in some of the best trails the area had to offer and for £17 and a T Shirt it beat the obscene amount of money needed for a jolly around a muddy OCR somewhere.

The joy of being a member of the Team Muddy Race OCR community is that you'll often spot someone else in a top and instantly break down barriers as I discovered at the start line.

You never know when you'll see another member of Team Muddy Race at an event

Starting out from the interesting surroundings of Whirlow Hall Farm, a charitable trust on the outskirts of Sheffield which allows access to a great local network of trails that lead into the Peak District we had a briefing in the barn before heading out for the event. The organisers seemed to have put on a nice event village where they'd set up a stage in the barn, there was a bar, a few stalls and Outside outdoor goods shop had bought a selection of the running gear. The shop they'd set up was very professional befitting their place as a sponsor of the event. In comparison to the 2xu shop at the recent Runners World Trailblazer events look piss poor and certainly gave a very good impression of Outside.

Due to the nature of the event and changeable weather conditions mandatory kit included a compass, route map and a windproof jacket which had been downgraded from full waterproof body cover the week before the event. There were a few grumblings heard whether the jacket was really necessary but having been caught out in the Peak District in summer before I was confident that if anything did happen my trusty OMM Kamleika would do the job needed to get me back to base.

The race started pretty much on time from inside the farm and we headed North along a section of byways and footpaths with a few short road links until we turned west along the Porter Valley. The climb up the Porter Valley became a tough slog as I settled into a rhythm as we climbed over 200 metres in less than 4 kilometers before entering the Peak District.

First water staion came aside Lady Cannings Plantation, a favourite spot for local Mountaion Bikers where a trail has just been put in place to encourage their use in the area whilst controlling the areas of the woodland they have an effect on. Climbing up the sandy byway beside the plantation a few mountain bikers ambled past us having a good nosey at what was going on but fortunately as the section was nice and wide we were easy to pass without incident.

From there the course swung right along Houndkirk Road (Dirt road) before sweeping down to skirt the edge of Burbage Rocks. As we got to Fiddlers Elbow we turned South onto the rocky, rugged trail up to Higgar Tor. At this point it had become a case of jumping from rock, to rock, trying to find a suitable route forward as the relentless terrain was starting to take it's toll.

We dropped down from Higgar Tor along a network of paths and through the heather before what seemed like an almighty slog back up to Houndkirk Road. Sections of this became more of a fast power walk than a run as we fought the terrain and our body's requests to shut down on us. Fortunately we all knew that once at the top of this section we'd be on the home run. Back generally downhill to Sheffield for the final 5 kilometers via the Ling Valley at Ringinglow.

By this point I was starting to become a little weary of my ankle. It had stayed relatively strong but I was going past my usual comfort zone. I'd been struggling somewhat on the downhill sections and with the more rugged terrain as my confidence builds back up. Hills weren't an issue and I was often able to re-take people who'd flown past on the downhills. As this was more a test run than a race for me I held back, admiring the impressive views back to industrial Sheffield while generally enjoying the run.

At the finish of the Dig Deep 12.12 Peak District at Whirlow Hall Farm. 

I got back to Whirlow Hall Farm in 1:55:05 which was over 30 mins behind the winner but I was happy with where my body is now at. The distance had started to hurt but I'd initially hoped to get inside the 2 hour mark with a 10 min/ mile pace which I achieved with some time to spare.

All in the Dig Deep 12.12 race for 2015 was a nice event. Tough terrain (which I like) some nice scenery and a good test for my fitness without destroying me. Definitely something I'd come back to although I'm tempted for next years 30 mile Intro Ultra event.

Swag- Tech T shirt and a copy of Trail Running magazine.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Spartan Race Manchester Review 2015- Sponsors, bottlenecks and a Lack of Burpees

Spartan Race Manchester – Heaton Park 2015

This race I originally signed up just to do the super on the Sunday and so my niece now four and a half was able to see what this racing malarkey is all about.  With Spartan Race changing the date and giving me a free entry to the sprint race I decided to do what I have never done before a back to back race.  Manchester thankfully wasn’t too far from home though was an early start for all three of us.  This was a challenge for us all the first time while I raced. Liam wasn’t marshaling and was looking after an overly active Shanai after her power nap in the journey up.

Tackling the up and over cargo netting
Thankfully for the 1st time ever for Spartan there was no issues getting both me and Shanai registered and headbands on.  Though a quick warm up was time for me to get my 1st race of the day out the way with Shanai racing at 10.30 I would miss her but hoped she would like the run.

All the hills in Heaton Park I think Spartan Race found them and we ran them through the course of the race.  Though I went off in the Elite wave I found there was bottlenecks early on two lots of walls of after another but only two wide and here was waiting at least 5 mins.  This wasn’t the only bottle neck of the day.  At the beginning of the race Rich Pringle was saying having Commanders counting those Burpees if you couldn’t do the task but was found that people still not doing the full amount and personally didn't see many of these said commanders.
No burpees at the Hercules Hoist
My first lot of Burpees was the traverse wall this is one of my nemesis as failed attempts been my grip strength or the sheer amount of mud of the bricks giving grip issues.  You was told not to use the top of the board to hold on yet so many people was and no punishment and I didn’t realise at this time Liam and Shanai was watching and cheering.  The 2015 version of the wall was a Z shape and failed to get to the first corner so Burpees here I come.  I duly counted through my 30 to find out many didn’t do the full  Z  shape or did few burpees and went is  saddening how can you claim your medal when didn’t do it correctly?

Mastering the high walls
With more running through the fields we got to the 2015 Hercules hoist edition this was a flat plate different to last year’s Calor gas canisters.  I opted to try the Men’s weight and the guy allowed me the weigh did feel heavier and harder and such a challenge I got it up to the top…………. Just but no burpees there.  After this I was to find that the Altas stones now been replaced with concrete discs which in weight was between the weights of 15kg and 20kg and if anyone dropped it automatic burpees.  I had no issue with this got my Crossfit training to thank for that.

We began running through Heaton Parks woodland areas and some areas going from part to another didn’t have the best marking and also had a new obstacle dodge the general public, dogs and kids. And a few times there wasn’t a Marshal present to ensure was going the right way.  For me thankfully we wasn’t swimming in lake major relief as me and swimming just don’t mix well.  But we had a stream crawl under barb wire.  Normally these crawls no problem but many people was founding bottles glass and other sharp objects which is a major faux pas on Spartan.  As people was taking great care doing this there was at least 10 mins wait here.

Other obstacles encountered was a Scaffold step A frame with cargo net side, Sandbag pancake carry, Rope climb, two five foot walls and 7 foot ish wall of course the spear throw which sadly that and the rope climb cost me burpees.  Was disappointed there wasn’t more walls to do or the little jump overs.  I did this race in little over an hour but if wasn’t for the bottle necks I think would have achieved a slightly quicker time.

The customary Fire Jump is a Spartan Race classic
With two races in mind have to pace yourself after finishing able to go and have a good picnic of food before was due to set off at 13:00.  I found that Shanai didn’t like me muddy and wasn’t fussed on mud and scared of the height of the kids cargo net.  But non the less she looked to be having a great time.  Especially when we met up with the rest of the Muddy Race gang and having a quick chat on how thought race went and what to expect from the super.

The super was an almost replica of the sprint with more running in an area which basically had rabbit hole which was covered over from the long grass.  When I almost fell into one said hole I walked through this area as didn’t want a repeat of last year’s ankle spraining and The Fan dance race in mind in a few weeks’ time.burpees there.  The super had a tire carry to do instead of the sandbag pancake followed by monkey bars which I can’t do at all.  The woods had a slightly different path and a good slippy bank walk up which was the only time I was thankful for my x talons.  Bottle necks again was flagged up in the same areas and the barb wire crawl was much shorter as finally decided to close off as found out later on a few injuries sustained by some racers.
Jemma and Shanai pre-races

 My best achievement from the super I managed to do the traverse wall right to the end which shows I'm improving.

In short I enjoyed the races. It was nice to soak up the atmosphere but the lack of the sponsors and free stuff which we should have was disappointing.  It seems that 2015 are dry races no beer at the end.  The new team in place have a lot to get right I do hope so with new events popping up wanting your hard earned money they will need to Spartan Up

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Trailblazer Clumber Park Review

Nice to Run Close to Home Though Ruined by a "Paula Radcliffe" Moment

Clumber Park Trailblazer Event Review by Jemma

It's always nice to do events when they're local. Alongside Dash of the Titan you couldn't get any more local to us than Clumber Park. I can get there in 43 minutes on my mountain bike along National Cycling Route 6 so it's pretty close though I'm pretty sure Liam could do it in well under 30 minutes.

The guys at Rat Race know how to put on a quality event so I was really looking forward to running in the heart of Sherwood Forest. I've done the Clumber Park Run before but was really looking forward to seeing what trails Clumber had in store for us having not done much running there previously.

With a warm race day with temperatures due to get into the mid twenties and blazing sunshine I opted for my Under Armour shorties and a vest top as it was far too warm to wear my trusty my Muddy Race T-shirt.  Along with my trusted Inov8 Trailrocs which I knew I'd need for some grip in the woods and possible wet ground from the sharp showers that we had the previous night.

Having learnt lessons from the sun at Bedgebury previously  I sun creamed up to the max so wouldn't get sunburn as it was a warmer day than Bedgebury at the start of June.

After running a 2 hr 17 minute half marathon at Bedgebury I opted to start in the "2:20 group knowing that Clumber is pretty rolling so beating my previous half marathon best would be pretty tough. At least this time I had my Garmin on to track my times.

As the race got underway I eased into the first few miles. A short distance into the race I noticed a man in a red top who was literally sprinting a short distance and then slowing down to a walk which seemed like a weird way to run a half marathon. I caught up with him after the first water station and eased him to find a steady pace to stick to. It turned out he normally runs 5km events so was taking a big jump up in distance which he seemed somewhat unprepared for. He steadied off and used me as a pacer for a number of miles before tailing off. Hopefully he had a good race by the finish

I was ticking off the miles in the glorious Clumber Park sunshine using a female runner in a bright yellow Sheffield vest as a marker before things started to unravel for me around the 10 mile mark. The easiest way to explain things is that I had a "Paula Radcliffe Moment" and needed to dart off course into the privacy of forest cover. Due to needing to pee drastically I had started to experience pain and discomfort in my lower back and stomach which was really slowing me down

After that I carried on slowly to get to finish line with a 2 hour 23 Min's finish. I was gutted I didn't get the better finish than Bedgebury I was hoping but I'll be back next year in search of a better time.

If you fancy a go in 2016 have a look at http://rwtrailblazer.co.uk/

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Runners World Trailblazer South Bedgebury Review from Jemma

Rat Race Bedgebury Pinetum Runner's World Trailblazer Half Marathon Review

This is my first half marathon and I was pretty nervous on the fact of doing a race without any water dips, cargo nets and ….................... MUD. With the previous outing at the Dirty Weekend at 20 miles and with prep runs over the half marathon distance I knew I could do the distance. It was a case of how long will it be till Liam saw me at the finish line. 

Nursing a sore rib injury from a self inflicted bike error 2 weeks previously I was just at a comfortable to run stage. The great thing about the guys at Rat Race is that they just don't set you all off at the same time. You are let out in minute intervals based on the estimated time you think will do the race in.  My best times for 10K races was the hour mark so for doing an half marathon a good reasonable guess was a 2 hour 30 min finish. By staggering the groups the hope was that we would be separated from
the Sunday walkers and barely joggers. 
For me this meant my only issues were getting the Nokia Mix Radio going on my phone and getting past a girl running with her hands flapping around like she was wading in the swimming pool doing doggie paddle. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

New Bike and Some Fun at Cardinham Woods

When you're heading from Nottingham to Newquay for a holiday there's a risk that if you leave too late you'll hit all the traffic. Though if you do as we did and leave Nottingham at 2 AM there's the issue of what to do before you can check into your accommodation. I've found a great way to fill that time is to head to Cardinham Woods, 45 minutes drive from Newquay and hit the trails

Now the leg is healing it's time for me to have some fun and while I'm not up to running long distances and comfortable dealing with the trails on foot I'm fit enough now to get back onto the bike which has always been my main passion.  

Tackling the Bodmin Beast Run at Cardinham Woods

It's not every day your new bike arrives and it's just before you go away. That called for a potential opportunity to test out the bike on holiday. The question was where?

The Radon ZR Race 6.0 at Cardinham Woods, Bodmin
The joy of google meant that a few choice Internet searches drew me to Bodmin and Cardinham Woods. Home of the Bodmin Beast MTB route. Only a blue route from the information on the 1SW website but from a little further research this looked to be no ordinary blue run.

Cardinham is fortunately a short 45 minute drive from Newquay so a no brainer for anyone taking their mountain bike down to the area.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Our Adventure at the Rat Race Dirty Weekend 2015

Jemma and Liam hit the Rat Race Dirty Weekend 2015

The Rat Race season continues for us and this is the second race we have done. Jemma as eager as ever was keen to see just what the main Dirty Weekend event would be like and for Liam it was a case of joining up with the marshaling team for a free weekend.

Jemma at the Dirty Weekend. Ready to be a #ratracer
We also dragged good friend Mark along for the weekend too.

Mark generally looks like this all the time!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Loads of Awesome Spartan Race Team Name Ideas

Spartan Race Team Name Ideas

Jemma and I really love Spartan Race. It's the event that got me into OCR events and for Jemma it's been a big part of her fitness journey over the last couple of years. We're not going to deny that a Spartan Race event isn't going to be tough and push you outside the comfort zone of running in the park or lifting weights in the gym but for us it has a competitive challenging element that's somewhat lacking in Tough Mudder and some other events.

Spartan Race is great individual or as a team

The joy of a Spartan Race is that despite it's individualistic nature which means it can be treated as a race there's a huge proportion of participants wanting to make their way round and experience the feel-good factor of the finishline and a nice well earned beer. For that reason if you're not contesting the elite wave and want to get a team together from your local bootcamp, school run or fancy a bachelor/ hen party with a difference it's a great time to gather a group together and go for it.

Here's a Selection of Team Name Ideas for Spartan Race and other Mud Runs

Inspired by Spartan warriors, race conditions and the infamous 30 burpee penalty for failing an obstacle.
  • Achilles Heels
  • Burpee'd Out
  • Burpee'd Off
  • Dirty 30's (Named after the number of Burpees you must complete at every obstacle failure)
  • Team Aroo (Aroo is the Spartan war cry)
  • The 300 (After the film)
  • Leonidas' Lions
  • The Spartan Warriors
  • No Surrender
  • I Hate Burpees (You might just love them by the end)
  • Keep Calm and Spartan On
  • The Sprinters do Spartan
  • Muddy Love
  • I am Spartacus
  • This is Sparta

Team Muddy Race Take You Through Spartan Race

Mud Related Team Name Ideas

  • Band of Mudders (great is you're a group of soldiers tackling an event together)
  • Dirt Up My Skirt
  • Dirt Up Ya Kilt (For the Scottish racers)
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Mudder (Play on the dairy spread I can’t believe it’s not butter)
I can't believe it's not Mudder

  • Dirty Mudder Funkers
  • Dude… Where’s My (Insert trainer brand here as someone might lose them in a bog somewhere on course)
  • The Dirt Digglers (Great for a group of guys if you fancy dressing in 60's attire thinking you're Mark Wahlberg)
  • Sexy Mudder Funkers
  • Mud Sweat and Tears
  • Mind Over Mudder
  • Mud Flaps (Great for a group of classic car enthusiasts or Max Power readers)
  • The Dirty Dozen
  • The Muddley Crew (Grab some wigs from the fancy dress shop and go in character)
  • Mud Mud Glorious Mud
  • Happy as Pigs in.
  • The Mudarellas
  • The Mudstaches (Head to the fancy dress shop for some mustaches or grow your own as part of Movember and raise more money for charity).
  • Pure Spartans (Ideal for a team from the chain Pure Gym)
  • LA Spartans (Great for a group from an LA Fitness Gym)
  • The Muddy Virgins (If you're from Virgin Active health clubs)
We're sure you can come up with plenty of other Spartan Race team name ideas to enlighten, inspire and have put onto T Shirts

Gather together your team for a Spartan Race or Mud Run

Friday, 24 April 2015

Lessons Learnt at Tough Mudder by Jemma

Jemma did her first Tough Mudder event in 2014 at Broughton House in Northamptonshire. Here are some of her thoughts and feelings which we feel may help others to make the most of their experience

The Dirty Muddy Thirties
Jemma at her first Tough Mudder event 2014

What I Learnt from Tough Mudder

When I'm preparing for a race I'll be putting the hours in at the gym, boot camps and running in the great outdoors to get ready for the latest obstacle race so when you are at the start line you know you've done all that you can do to get to the finish line or better last years times. Failing to put the preparation work in can leave you in serious trouble on event day at long events like Tough Mudder where you're likely to be on the course for 3+ hours experiencing warmth, cold and fatigue.

I saw many training timetables online on how to train for events and to be frank I found these not helpful and too easy on participants.From the few previous events I'd done I knew I had to target certain areas and improve further on other areas.

Key Event Needs for Tough Mudder

  • Upper Body- Hauling yourself over obstacles and holding your weight on monkey bars is far tougher than many training schedules allow for.
  • Being able to run for extended periods was also beyond what I was used to doing
Not long after completing my first Spartan Race in 2013 one of our gym PT's suggested getting a team together for Tough Mudder. He ran a number of boot camp style sessions a week which I was attending where work allowed so it made sense to join up with their team for Tough Mudder in the Midlands at Broughton House, Kettering. By event day there were 24 of us which made up Team Jelly Fitness.

Try different energy gels to see what works for you

As Tough Mudder was going to be the longest event I'd done (I want to say "Race" but Tough Mudder isn't a race) Liam suggested to try using energy gels whilst running to keep my energy up over the course of an event. One of his best suggestions was to trial different energy gels during longer runs to see what worked for me. I initially tried the SIS (Science in Sport) gels which I found were relativity cheap and easy to find on the shelves of the local Tesco. I also picked up a variety of flavours to try as I know I wouldn't be happy consuming something I didn't like the taste of come the day of the event. 

My final food preparations for the race involved deciding how many gels I should carry. The event paperwork advised there would be feed and water stations around the course so I decided that to take 4 gels to supplement what had on the feed stations. Unfortunately I had very little experience with using these gels and when is the best to take them. 

Eat Little and Often to Maintain Energy Throughout the Event

On event day at the first feed station we were offered water and squares of a protein/ energy bar which was probably the driest thing I've ever tasted. I only manged half of the square as it was so tough it was almost one of the obstacles! Over the course of the event I learnt that whenever you're offered food take it as YOU WILL need it. At the next feed station was again that same awful protein bar and with the after taste of the previous square I was discouraged so settled for a gel and cup of water. Eventually I found that the SiS gels I was using didn't sit brilliantly on my stomach towards the end of the event and I'd need to look at other options for future events

Finding the Distance a Real Issue

During mile 8 I started to suffer from shooting cramps down my calves was handed a drink from a fellow person in my team who had a hydration pack with electrolytes in it and told to have another gel and that should help. At least i knew how to stretch out my legs to help ease the pain out. The one feed station after this was a bananas which I easily ate which the state was feeling I should have eaten another one along with more water than the two cups I drank.

When I completed the course even the electrocution at the end was too much to bare. I was feeling in a rather bad place with no energy left and my body cramping up. Given a bottle of water and another one of those protein bars I looked at that bar without any enthusiasm and tried to give it to Liam who refused and made me eat it before I could have that earned pint. Because I hadn't eaten enough this is one of the reasons why was in such a bad shape. If eating that bar was an obstacle then it was a hard one at the time.

Realizations After Tough Mudder

My after thought with this event was "oh shit I have little over two months" till I started my Spartan series campaign. Tough Mudder has its faults such as no timing, electrocution, no penalties or alternative if you fail an obstacle but it made me work on my distance more and try different forms of race nutrition to see what would suit me.

We talked over what I felt I struggled on throughout the course and as ever I found it to be my upper body strength. I simply could not hold the bars or rings on Funky Monkey or Hang Tough. Liam was  running alongside at points so he could see how my performance was and what I needed to work more on. This was a great help for the small things you don’t notice.

Take Positives Out of Each Event as Well as Negatives to Work on.

Every race I have now done I take a good thing and a bad thing from it so that got something to work on for the next time. Focusing on the good shows the progress you have made and the bad is where your going to conquer in future.

Jemma hated the electrocution element of Tough Mudder

The progress I made was visible throughout 2014. I went from struggling with the distance of Tough Mudder to finishing the longer Spartan Beast in much better shape. I also saw my strength and technique increase. At the beginning of the Spartan Race series I could barely roll an Atlas Stone along the ground yet managed to carry it during the last 3 races. I gained great satisfaction in lifting an Atlas Stone where there were blokes around me rolling them.

The bad for me is still elements of my upper body and grip as I've suffered badly with the monkey bars, rope climb and traverse walls.

As long as you're having fun, weaknesses are just something to work on in training. That's why I love obstacle racing so much as there's always something to keep me on my toes.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

How to Get an I am Training for a Spartan Race Shirt

Ever since she got into obstacle racing and Spartan Race Jemma has craved on of the "I am Training For a Spartan Race" shirts. She's hunted high and low on eBay and online but the reality is that to get on of the T shirts you have to attend a Spartan Race training workout.

Jemma in her I am Training for a Spartan Race t shirt
Last weekend after seeing them advertised on facebook we headed up to the Regional Athletics Centre in Manchester to attend what we hoped would be a tough workout with a few obstacles to challenge us. Sadly we didn't get any obstacles but we did get a nice Bootcamp style workout with a Spartan Race theme. I'm sure I did more burpees in that one hour than at the whole of the 2014 race series put together (and I missed a lot of Spear Throws!!)

Jemma outside the Etihad Stadium Manchester. Shame she's a Red!
 For Jemma the main thing about that free workout was finally getting her hands on a I am Training for a Spartan Race T Shirt which she will now wear in the gym with pride.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Muddy Duck OCR at the Dash of the Titan

A selection of images from Team Muddy Duck from last weekends Dash of the Titan event.

Mudstacle at Dash of the Titan 2015

A selection of images from the people of Mudstacle from last weekend's Dash of the Titan event. 

Team Ram at Dash of the Titan

A selection of images from Team Ram from Dash of the Titan. A big congratulations to Monika for showing everyone how it should be done and being first to complete 3 laps of a challenging course.

Team Muddy Race Photos from Dash of the Titan

Thanks to our Friend Winnie who had my DSLR on Saturday we have a large selection of images from last weekend's Dash of the Titan event at Thoresby.

Here's a selection of Team Muddy Race Images. Feel free to post the images elsewhere but if you do use them on blogs etc please provide a link back the the Dirty Muddy 30s blog.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Dash of the Titan 2015 Review- Bramble Warrior

Jemma Takes on Dash of the Titan 2015 at Thoresby

Dash of the Titan 2015
A tough start- Jemma carrying a heavy tyre
New Month and  a nice local event which we've been keen to test out as last time it clashed with a Spartan race.  This race is so local it took less 15 mins to get to the location which is pretty rare for us and a definite bonus. 

I saw Dash of the Titan advertised as a lapped event of up to 15 miles and thought it would be perfect training ready for the upcoming Dirty Weekend, as I need to get my distance up.  I planned to do two laps at 10 miles and after the Deerstalker event I have been putting in lots of training so wanted to see where I am at.  

Initially it took us a while to find the entrance to the event just after the Thoresby Hall Spa on the left two banners were placed by gate posts but we didn't see any other signs beforehand. (good job I am local ).  After our initial faux pas of overshooting the turning like a number of cars behind us we made our way to the car park along a farmers track. Check in was easy and there seemed no issues for me and everyone pitched in to get everyone checked in and marker penned their number onto faces. 

Watch Jemma's event footage below from Youtube,