Not to be outdone by all my friends who seem to be training for a tough mudder or total warrior race at the moment, I recently signed up and took part in a beach-based assault course in France. I wasn’t fully prepared for what it would entail, though, and a combination of ignorance and limited French led me into one of the most intimidating challenges I have ever taken on (and I’ve hung out with marines!).
First of all, I didn’t know that you were meant to sign up to the event as a team and so I headed to the start line on the day of the race ‘tout seul’ and consequently found myself pushed into one of the smallest teams. I signed up because I wanted the exercise and I thought it might be fun but I soon realised that I was also ‘tout seul’ in that mindset. As soon as I approached the registration tent and saw the bandana-wearing, lycra-clad sporting set I knew I was joining a gang of serious sports men and women who were taking part for an actual time rather than a ‘good time.’
The course was 4km long and the obstacles included a cargo net to crawl under, a wall and rope to climb over, a couple of tunnels and some tyres to drag. I wasn’t the slowest member of my team but I certainly wasn’t far off.
Without a doubt the course was tough and running on sand even for the short sprints in between obstacles was draining. Dropping to the floor and crawling under a mat and through tunnels was tough on the cumbersome hot sand and my legs felt heavy from the start. In fact, I felt two stone heavier than I do on solid ground!
It was a warm, not blistering, day, but even so my lungs were hot and my face on fire. Still I stumbled on, determined to finish the course as fast as my limbs and lungs would allow.
Each team completed the course individually and the times of each member were added to make an overall time which went onto a leader board. I doubt I will see my fellow course runners again but I didn’t want to let them down and it’s surprising how the team spirit spurs you on.
All in all, this was far from my finest sporting hour, but it was definitely up there as a fun experience. The event I took part in is actually one in a series and although I don’t think I will join this group again I will certainly consider putting my own team together, with the joint aim of having a good time!
I recommend these organised events for a laugh, a challenge and a massive sense of satisfaction. And yes it may be hard work, but wading through sand is certainly a lot more photo-friendly than being waistdeep in mud, right?