A couple of years ago I ran one of their races in Deepcut on a challenge from an ex-army friend who had decided to go for it. That was on a freezing cold Saturday morning in February, and was the first competitive race I undertook. The course that time was through pine forest and was unrelenting sharp ups and downs. They also run a CaniX race for people with their dogs who are their running partners.
This Brutal was over in Bordon camp, one of the army camps in the village of the same name in the middle of Hampshire. I cycled down there arriving just 20 minutes before the off, so enough time for a quick change and stash my bag before the race start. At all their races they provide complimentary camo-cream so you can smear it over your face to get that all messed up before the rest of you follows suit during the race!
|Preparing the pooches.|
|Watching the off.|
Before the event they posted on Facebook a little about the route, so we knew there would be several stream crossings and a couple of bogs to endure, so from the start it was a question of what we would encounter first and how soon. With those aforementioned streams it was not that surprising one of those fella's was first up within about 1/2 km of the start.
|The first of many!|
The next big obstacle was a scramble up a good 20ft tall embankment that needed both hands to pull yourself up due to the sheer slope and the slippery loose mud surface. Over the road on the crest and on the other side you then had to run down the corresponding descent. This with safety in mind they did restrict you to going one at a time to avoid collisions and accidents. I ended up running it sideways so that when my footing slid, all my weight was on the back foot so there was no danger of falling. A photographer was at the bottom of the mound taking photos. As you can see, I was using my arms to balance, so it looks like i could be on a surf-board, although it was not a very macho look for the photo!
The bogs and streams carried on in a relentless manner, with just enough distance/ time between all of them to run up and down hills in the woodland to warm up after cooling down before you hit the next one.
The biggest longest swamp was a real stinking trek. People were floundering around in it caked in the black watery stench of the mud, trying to find where they could put their feet next, some even crawling through it after making an ill-judged choice on a path to get through. I was feeling kinda smug as I was faring quite well with the bogs, until I got to one which widened out in to a pool of water with a tunnel at the end, the tunnel that the army recruits have to hold their breath and swim under in full kit. Fortunately they did not want us to do the tunnel, but to exit the pool next to it. Unfortunately as I made my way into the wider pool, right in front of a photographer I lost my footing and splashed in, having to swim a few strokes before I managed to get my footing before climbing out!
Two exhausting laps of this and the run was over. Soaked but not too cold I crossed the finish line in a time and position I was happy with.
|Over the line.|
A complimentary handful of chocolates, a banana and a recovery drink, then it was a case of getting changed for the tiring 15 mile cycle home!
I ran this race using my recently acquired trail-running shoes. They are a pair of More Mile Cheviot's that I managed to obtain FoC coincidentally just as I needed a pair! Reading Outdoor Fitness just after the Pembrokeshire CTS I noticed that their subscriber free gift offer was a pair of these trainers, so I thought why not? I read the mag each month, and if I don't get along with the trainers then I haven't lost anything even if I do sling them in the bin. Within a couple of weeks they had arrived and this was their first serious test... Which they passed with flying colours. Incidentally I decided to put elasticated laces in to them so as to never suffer the problem of stopping to tie them during a race as they will never come undone. So blister free I think these will become my trainers of choice for proper cross country running with the Asics - which are more comfortable, left for less arduous/ firmer trails and pavement pounding.