Mud, mud, elf, hill, ice, mud, river, log, rope, slide, mud, bog, elf, hill, waterfall, mud, net, Santa, chocolate! That’s the gist of the 10km Christmas-themed adventure “race” I ran this morning.
In the frosty mist I lined up for my first ever adventure race: the Trailtroopers Tinsel Dash at Finlaystone Country Estate. I was a little apprehensive about the prospect of jumping into icy water (repeatedly) on such a frosty day, not to mention the fact that I had no idea how my upper body strength would measure up against the many obstacles. My event-specific preparation consisted of one phone call to a friend who has run Tough Mudder. His advice: just accept that you’ll get very, very dirty.
With nothing else to go by, I heeded his advice and just threw myself into the adventure; mud, icy rivers, bogs and all. The run itself was wicked fun; a challenging dash across wonderfully wild terrain and countless fun and creative obstacles that were designed to get you alternately very, very muddy and/or very, very wet.
Rewards for completion include the cutest medal I have ever earned, a t-shirt I might actually wear outside of the house (and no, I don’t mean while painting the garden fence) and – wait for it – a Christmas-themed chocolate box, handed out by Santa himself. Christmas spirit officially obtained (I’m easily bribed).
All in all, I had a fantastic time and am chuffed to bits with my run. I fearlessly threw myself at, over, under or into every single obstacle and conquered them all. I also got completely soaked and exceptionally muddy and have acquired several bruises to show for my efforts. Personal highlights include slipping and faceplanting in the middle of an icy river and tackling the last two obstacles with my race number clenched between my teeth, as it had come off while crawling through the mud and the obstacles demanded action from both hands.
The whole event was very well organised; a challenging run in a fun winter-wonderland against the backdrop of a tongue-in-cheek Christmas theme.
However, one slight downside is that that the “race” nature of this run had to be treated with a bucket of tinsel. Although the run was timed, all obstacles are essentially voluntary. Some obstacles were clearly marked as bonus obstacles (e.g. wading up the icy river), at other obstacles the elvish marshals asked each runner whether or not they wanted to give it a shot (e.g. when carrying heavy items), and many obstacles were hidden out in the woods with no way of knowing which competitor actually completed them. However, in all cases, whether or not the obstacle was tackled by a competitor was in no way recorded or considered in the finishing times.
While I can understand the merits of giving competitors the option of skipping obstacles they are not comfortable with, this “free for all” nature of the event meant that finish times and especially the positions of individual competitors were not particularly meaningful. Still, the organisers gave prices for the top three finishers, even though it was clear that these individuals had simply skipped some of the harder and more time consuming obstacles.
But not to worry, it was still a wild, wicked and wonderfully wintry adventure. Besides, Santa will no doubt know that this little runner was a very good girl this year and has completed every single obstacle!