Adventure racing is to fitness what skinny jeans are to fashion. They’re fun, fabulous and oh-so-on-trend, but the jury’s still out on what we’ll think when we look back at photos of ourselves in them 10 years down the track. Whether they’re here to stay or simply another fitness fad is yet to be seen, but one thing I can tell you is that they’re a hell of a lot of fun!
My first taste of adventure racing came late last year when I entered the 7km Mud Run with a bunch of clients. Held on the outskirts of Sydney in the searing heat, we ran, slid and waded through mud amongst thousands of other competitors to the finish line. By that stage I was hooked, and the next opportunity we had to get involved was last weekend’s Tough Bloke Challenge, although injuries, holiday plans and a baby reduced our team to four – myself, Ruski, James and Fraser.
Now, the last week in Sydney has been pretty disgusting weather-wise and race day in Appin was no better. Grey skies, mud and steady rain – everything you could hope for when you’re about to embark on an 8km obstacle course through bushland. We stripped down to our race gear reluctantly, tiptoeing around puddles for the first couple of hundred metres (except for James, who seemed to revert his his toddler days, jumping two-feet first into each one) before resigning ourselves to our fate and just getting down and dirty.
The whole thing really was an absolute blast, but a few obstacles in particular provided the highlights:
Cheeky Monkey – this one took us swinging across the monkey bars back to the primary school playground (although it seemed so much easier back then). Great workout for the shoulders, back and forearms – I’m thinking about getting some installed in the living room.
Goldmine – we should have known something was up when the volunteers smirked at us as they directed us down the left tunnel. Sure enough we emerged at the other end to discover that they’d sent us down the claustrophobia-inducing tunnel, so tight at the end we had to duck underwater to get out. Jerks.
iWall 3.0 – up and over two vertical walls. GREAT for the entire upper body, but the drop down the other side was a little bit scary!
Hells Gate – they definitely saved the worst ‘til last… Hanging upside down, dragging yourself across a rope would have been difficult enough at the start of the race, but after 8km it was downright torture. My hands froze, my tights kept getting caught under my shoes and I was laughing hysterically. Then with literally centimetres to go I dropped both my legs trying to untangle my tights from my shoes and I had to swing my way to the end with Fraser and James grabbing at me to help. Brilliant.
All in all it was a well-run event, and kudos must got to the organisers for putting on a great show in terrible conditions. By the time we made it over the finish line we might have been freezing, scratched and covered in mud, but we were also grinning from ear to ear and excitedly looking towards our next adventure race. Tough Mudder – here we come!
p.s If you’re interested in getting involved in adventure racing, check out this Australian calendar.