I had heard friends and colleagues talking about a fun, muddy obstacle course which is hilariously challenging and earns you army-style dog-tags. I thought this sounded like a great experience so headed onto the Major Series website, checked out the dates for the South and didn’t hesitate to sign myself up.
Voted the UK’s ‘Best Trail Race’, the award-winning Major Series is deemed the UK’s most friendly obstacle race, with over 40 of the Major’s troops around the course to help and challenge participants through the obstacles.
The 5K and 10K courses are littered with all kinds of obstacles, hills, mud and water, and I was completely ignorant to the extent of these obstacles. I had thought it would all be relatively easy, and to be perfectly honest I hadn’t done my research! I crawled through a muddy ditch to avoid low barbed wire, climbed over the tyre wall, then a net wall, crawled through a darkened trench filled with ice, ducked and jumped over a long stretch of web, weaved through the electric obstacle, clambered over a ‘vanishing’ bridge, ran through a freezing river, jumped in and pulled myself out of numerous stench trenches, waded through thick deep mud, did a log carry, used space hoppers and cantered over more hurdles than I care to remember, all built for horses.
It was quite honestly the hardest thing I have ever done. The novelty had started to wear off towards the end of the course; I was cut, bruised, sore and kept getting stuck in the mud, which can only be described as more like quick-sand or cement. It was impossible to run on without slipping and falling. I was tired and my back and shoulders were aching from having to pull myself out of trenches and lakes, using tree branches or ropes – whatever I could find to grab onto. At one point I grabbed a bunch of brambles to stop myself falling. A well-built man accidentally trod down on my calf when I slipped and fell, meaning that I was limping for a few days afterwards. The lack of shower or washing facilities meant that I went home as I was, covered from head to toe in slimy mud and absolutely freezing. I found a bin bag in my car and wrapped it around me and put one on the car seat, but the mud still seeped through. It took a 45min shower to get all the mud and dirt off, and my legs were a unsightly; a mass of cuts and bruises with a big painful ‘egg’ on the back where I had been trampled on. All of my clothes (pants and all) and shoes were binned. The smell made my boyfriend retch!
In hindsight I’m so glad I completed this race, I really am. However, I doubt I’d do it again: I found it slightly too challenging to be enjoyable. I’m fit and I throw myself into tasks, and went full-steam ahead on this one, throwing myself into the lakes and trenches, and I still found it tough. I saw people dropping out and some panicking when they got stuck. A girl lost her shoes in the mud and continued barefoot!
Don’t get me wrong, the Major Series itself was organised spectacularly; the warm-up was fun and effective and the troops around the course were brilliant – encouraging and helpful. At the finish line I collected an impressive t-shirt in my size and was presented with dog-tags and a goody bag full of snacks (porridge, protein bar, fruit bites, coco water etc). A professional photographer offered free finish line photos, and there was a range of food carts to purchase from. There are so many positives to this event and I would certainly recommend it to others, but only if they are extremely fit and enjoy a tough personal challenge.
The main negative for me about this event was the spectators – so many people lined the course towards the end and at the finish line, yet not one person was clapping or cheering, aside from my boyfriend. That’s disappointing when you’ve just taken part in the hardest event and you’re struggling up a hill to the finish line. Worst crowd of ‘supporters’ I’ve ever seen!
Think I’ll stick to road running… 🙂