Warrior Adrenaline Race April 2014

I had really been looking forward to the Warrior Adrenaline Race.  It meant a lot more to me now that I was a regular at Regiment Fitness sessions (as they are the guys who run it), and I had been to three out of the four training camps (which you can read about here, here and here), as well as doing bergen runs along part of the course (which you can read about here), but my week leading up to it had not been the best preparation possible – I had been working in Sweden, which meant eating badly and getting very little sleep, and even though I had done a Fartlek run while I was there (which you can read about here) I had managed to injure the underneath of my left heel while doing that, all of which meant that some of my enthusiasm had disappeared, to be replaced with a worry about how I would do which was not helped by the weather forecast of rain.  It is bad enough up on Dunstable Downs even without the rain.

I was running in Wave 2 at 0945 and left home in good time, and in good weather, and although there was already a queue of cars when I got to the Visitors’ Centre at Dunstable Downs as the parking fee was collected, I was parked quickly and ate my muesli.  I decided that I would wear my showerproof running jacket and gloves in case the weather worsened and made my way over to the registration point, which was set up with different lines for each Wave.  It was very well organised and I passed through very easily and quickly, picking up a tattoo which showed my Wave number.  There were buckets of water over to the side to allow us to apply the tattoos and I put mine on the only bit of skin available – my forehead – before adding to the look with some cam cream.

Ready to go

Ready to go

I dropped off my car key and then it was good to have some time to chat with friends and instructors from Regiment Fitness sessions, and it certainly improved my spirits before we moved over to the start area for a warm up, working in pairs as we also listened to the health and safety briefing.  I had brought my telephone with me so that I could record my run on Strava and now, just as we were about to head off, Strava decided to crash so I had to get it up and running again before I could be off and running myself, and when I looked up everyone I knew had rushed off towards

1. Zigzags

running down and up the slope in a zigzag, just to spread us out a little before we got to

2. Barbed wire crawl

and we were down on to our belly and keeping our bum low if we had any sense because that barbed wire looked very real.  I could really tell the improvement in my ability to deal with this type of obstacle since last year and I came storming out the other end

The look of determination on that face !!!

The look of determination on that face !!!

to run up the slope towards

3. Giant steps

which did require an initial leap to get on to them,

Up !

Up !

a clamber to get up the steps to the top, and then a spring down the other side.  It was just a short run to get from there to

4. Vertical ladder

Not actual race footage

Not actual race footage

which lived up to its name and was a straight climb up one side and down the other, trying to avoid stepping on anyone’s fingers.  I have to say that the 15 minute gap between waves had been very well planned and certainly at the front end of proceedings there was never a very long wait to get on to any of the obstacles, and they were never over-crowded once you did get on to them.  And then we were off and running along the top path of the Downs and I could immediately feel the bruised bottom of my left heel through my running shoes, which was annoying.  This was following the route I had been taking for my bergen runs and it was not too windy for a pleasant change.  As we came to the top of the slope which would take us down into the dip and the zipline I noticed that people were heading towards the middle, so I followed them rather than going down the right-hand edge, and that was when I noticed a huge gap where the zipline should have been, which was just after I had noticed people running back up the hill towards me, because we had reached

5. Bergen run

where we got to the bottom of the hill, picked up a loaded bergen, got it on to our shoulders, ran back up the hill and then ran back down again to drop off the bergen from where we had picked it up.  I do not know what weight was in the bergen, but thankfully it did not feel as heavy as the bergen I have been running with recently.  We were not quite finished here yet, though, as we ran down the slope from the pile of bergens to

6. Giant ladder

Wot no zipline ?

Wot no zipline ?

which was a triangular shape so you climbed up one ladder and then down another, both on an angle, which meant going up was almost like a bear crawl.  I was quickly up and over, and then coming back up the slope along the bottom track, at which point I noticed that I was getting no grip whatsoever from my running shoes.  They are brilliant for road running but clearly not cut out for these conditions and I will have to get a different pair for next time.  The weekend before this would not have been an issue because the ground had dried out, but after the rain leading up to this weekend there was now a slippery surface of mud and I was not coping very well with it.  I stuck to the sides as much as possible before we were directed to the right and down a steep slope which seemed designed to make me fall over.  I managed to keep my footing as it came around to the left and took us around the edge of the field below the bottom path, very soon bringing us to another

7. Barbed wire crawl

It was a bit more overcast on race day

It was a bit more overcast on race day

and so I was down on my front again crawling quickly up along the chalk, before getting up and continuing the run along that bottom track.  The track led on to

8. Log carry

which involved picking up a log and running off to the right and back while holding it.  I got given a heavy one.  Just like last year.  Thanks for that.  “Man-breaker” they called it.  I pushed on with it, bringing it back to the pile and carrying on along the track until we came to

9. Spiders web

The trick is to...

The trick is to…

a collection of ropes fastened across a frame with the only intention being to prevent an easy passage from one end of the frame to the other.  I got on the ground and crawled and rolled my way under it all, and it all seemed a bit too easy.  I was off and running, making sure that I had recovered sufficiently by the time I got to the bottom of Regiment Hill, but to my absolute surprise (and disappointment) it was not included this year, apparently on the instruction of the National Trust.  So we carried straight on, and on, and on, running along the bottom track which was now like ice for me.  Not only did that slow me down but it also meant that I was having to change my gait to compensate, which was frustrating.  The route had now passed into Whipsnade and soon we had reached the end of the area and turned left uphill before we reached the road.  I say uphill, but I seemed to be taking one step up and two slips back, to the extent that I was actually pleased when I got on to

10. Big sleeper steps

Yes, I'm calling this an obstacle

Yes, I’m calling this an obstacle

which usually I could easily do without.  I made good progress up them, not stopping and not using the wooden handrail, and at the top we came out into an open space to find a water point and mad Steve, one of my favourite Regiment Fitness instructors, so I had a little chat with him before following the route round to the left which then curled back round to the right and brought us to the path away from this which was hedged on both sides and, unfortunately for me, rocky on the middle of the surface, so I ran nearer to the sides but could not avoid all the rocks and each time I stepped on one it felt like a knife going into my left heel.  The path was also wet and muddy so I pretty much stumbled along until I arrived at

11. See-saw

Looks easy...

Looks easy…

which was far too slippery for it to be an easy obstacle for me in my footwear.  I had to get up it by pushing my heels back against the raised wooden slats, and as soon as it started to tip down I made a run for it.  It was not long before the lane came to an end, and I turned left to go into a field, following the edge of that before coming to another clearing and

12. Wall

There was a rope to get over a wall, and I found getting over to be surprisingly easy.  I thought my feet would slip but I grabbed the rope, leant as far back as I could and walked upright to the top of the wooden wall before lowering myself over the other side.  I ran round the outside of the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, eventually coming to a tarmac track (yes, that did not go down well with my left heel) and instead of turning right towards the Visitors’ Centre at the top I was directed to the left, continued to the end of that track, then turned right to find

13. Monkey bars

I cannot do monkey bars, so let us move swiftly on (but not too swiftly, because I almost slipped over on the track as I approached the next obstacle) to

14. Balance bars

which was a wooden boxed structure with wooden bars going across the top, and in drier circumstances I may just have run across, but this time I went with a kneeling crawl, got across safely and ran into the woods for

15. Dark tunnel

Here's one I did earlier

Here’s one I did earlier

which was a simple crawl through the tunnel.  It had been more difficult on one of the training camps when we had bergens with us.  I now continued through the woods, enjoying running on this surface, and very soon came to

16. Balance beam

Not actual location

Not actual location

which I got half way across before my running shoes sent me sliding off.  I could see the next obstacle from here

17. Climbing net

Not how it looked on the day

Not how it looked on the day

which appeared to be a warm up for something later in the course because having clambered up the net there was then a drop off the top down onto big crash mats.  It was not a big drop and I was pleased to have done it without hesitation.  From there it was just a matter of getting into the big field area for the real fun and games, starting with

18. Fireman’s pole

Just a short drop

Just a short drop

and a rope to help us walk up the wooden slope to the platform, then reach out to wrap both arms and one leg around the pole, and slide down to the bottom, before running down the slope to climb up the ladder to the

19. Zipline

Weeeeeeeeeeeee !!!!!

Weeeeeeeeeeeee !!!!!

which is just a lot of fun.  Probably a lot more fun if you do not mess up the finish like I did, though, with my feet unsurprisinly not getting any sort of grip as I placed them down, which meant I spun around and ended up bringing myself to an unflattering halt with my bum.  Then it was a run back up the slope to return the attachments, and a run back down the slope to the

20. Wooden tunnel

Another tunnel

Another tunnel

which had a bend in it, but not so much that it was completely dark inside, which I was glad of because I am not keen on dark, enclosed spaces.  That was quickly done and I was out and putting on a mask before taking on the

21. Paintball

Shoot at will !!!

Shoot at will !!!

being instructed to run in front of a set of oil cans and a wooden wall, which was clearly a ludicrous instruction because there were three guys shooting paintballs at anyone who did that.  Oh…  So I jogged to the oil cans and then sprinted as fast as I could, hoping that the change in speed would throw out their aim.  I got four hits on my right thigh and one grazing shot on my left buttock, but thankfully none of them hurt either at the time or later, and I certainly did not get marked as badly as some other poor victims I saw.  It was another run up the slope to the

22. Big jump

Jump !!!

Jump !!!

climbing up scaffolding to get to a platform which was 6 metres high.  All we had to do from there was jump down on to a big bag, being told to bend our knees up towards our chest as we fell and land on our back.  I did not hesitate and jumped…and seemed to run out of time to do the knees and back thing, just landing in whatever position my body had naturally got itself into.  I am not so keen on heights so I was very happy with how I had handled this new obstacle.  Now I knew what more to expect, starting with a run down the slope (and having to take off my phone) to the

23. Skip of water

That's cold

That’s cold

and I do not know how they do it, but once again it appeared to be filled with the coldest water known to man.  The concept is simple : go into the water, which comes up to the logs which cross over the skip, go under the log so that you are fully submerged, and come up before you drown.  Then repeat.  And repeat again.  So I got into the water and quickly lowered myself under the first log and pushed forward, coming up for breath on the other side, my breaths just short, sharp gasps.  I carried on, took a deep breath and submerged myself again as I went under the second log, and now my breaths were really being pulled in and being forced out as I psyched myself up for the third and final log, pushing myself down and under it and then thrusting upwards to clear the water and pull myself up the steps at the far end to get out of the skip, soaked through, but feeling much better than I had done after doing this last year.  A few breaths later, and having picked up my phone, and I was heading round the corner to the

24. Water slide

Oh, good, more water...

Oh, good, more water…

which this time had a raised start, so I climbed up the steps and launched myself head first down it, coming to a halt near to the bottom, carefully getting off and making my way back up the slope to the

25. Vertical wall

Can almost see the finish line...

Can almost see the finish line…

which is just one not so small hurdle away from the finish line.  I more than gladly accepted some help in getting to the top of the wall and pulled myself over and back down on to the ground, giving it a final push to cross the finish line in 1 hour 31 minutes and 08 seconds, which is quicker than last year.  I signed in at the desk so my time could be taken, was presented with my medal and collected my tshirt, and then wandered off to collect my car key.  I was feeling good and had enjoyed the run.

Got the medal :)

Got the medal 🙂

Once again, this was a very well organised event, with great communication at all times, before the event, once I was there, during the actual run and at the Finish, and the changes they had made since last year were all improvements.  Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, the event had a very relaxed feel to it, everything was done in a very positive way, and the organisers and volunteer marshalls deserve a huge thank you.  The course was very well designed, tough and challenging, but not impossible and not focused on only one type of exercise.  There were fun obstacles to go along with the hard ones, the new obstacles all seemed to go down very well, and help was always at hand if you needed it.  I will definitely be back for more in September.

You can find more photos from my run here.

 

 

This entry was posted in Down And Out In Dunstable, Paras' 10 Colchester May 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Warrior Adrenaline Race April 2014

  1. Dave Streeton says:

    What a great read and mirrored my experience too, first time I had done anything like this and enjoyed every minute.

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