I’ve taken part in the Tunbridge Wells Race for Life every year for as long as I can remember, even when I wasn’t into running, and it’s become a tradition more than anything. This event is local, my friends and colleagues join in, and it has a guaranteed great atmosphere with hoards of supporters. The event caters for runners, joggers and walkers and encourages those of all ages and abilities to join in.
So when the event organisers decided to hold a ‘Pretty Muddy’ Race for Life 5K this year, my interest was piqued. Cousin Harriet, also a keen runner, suggested we take part and I didn’t hesitate, signing up to participate on Saturday 4 June.
I dug out old plimsolls, old pink tracksuit bottoms (wasn’t going to ruin my nice running gear!) and purchased a charity vest top to wear, deciding to forego any makeup on the day – which turned out to be a good decision! After setting off, the first obstacle we came to was tarpaulin covered in a thin layer of compost with netting over the top: we had to crawl over the compost under the net while volunteers sprayed us with water. Muddy rating for this one was very low; only my knees and palms got dirty. The second obstacle was car tyres in a row which we had to ‘run through’ – no mud involved. The third obstacle was a netted A-frame which we climbed over – again, no mud. The fourth involved running through an inflatable bouncy castle with big bouncy balls – guess what, no mud. The fifth obstacle was a hurdle which had a muddy pool on the other side – HALLELUJAH! Finally, some mud – although only my shoes were affected. The sixth obstacle near the finish line was the biggest, the muddiest and definitely the most fun: a big inflatable slide which finished into a large padding pool of mud. I was covered! It was good fun trying to strip off all of my clothes in the car park without being seen – literally every item of clothing went into the bin, including pants and socks! Luckily I only live on the other side of town.
If the slide hadn’t been there, I would have been dry apart from my shoes – the event was disappointing overall and not what I had expected. Perhaps that’s because I completed the Major Series last year, which was brutal! I do feel, from a marketing point of view, that this event should be called an obstacle run rather than a mud run, which was a bit misleading, as myself and cousin both felt disappointed and distinctly mud-free until we reached the slide at the end. Even the atmosphere at ‘Pretty Muddy’ was surprisingly lacklustre, with what seemed like half the amount of participants and supporters of a standard ‘Race for Life’ event.
There were postivies, of course: the £20 entry cost covered army-style dog tags (in place of a traditional medal), bottle of water and a packaged brioche bun. No chip timing was available but the warm-up routine was good fun, and Cancer Research workers were walking around selling fake flowers which many supporters purchased for participants crossing the finish line – a lovely touch – and the ice-cream vans were very welcome! The signage was obvious, the marshals were encouraging, the weather was dry and muggy, and the start and finish lines were well managed. Personally though, I wouldn’t take part again, and in future I think I’ll stick with the standard 5K event without the mud…
NEXT UP: 8 Mile Tunbridge Wells Moonlight Walk for Hospice in the Weald on Saturday 11 June.