Dreams.

I sent a link to my old blog (the 2012 photo-a-day one) to someone the other day and while I was on there getting the link, I noticed I’d done a ‘dreams’ page. Just stuff that I fancied doing. Since I stopped that blog I’d not been back so this list so I’d totally forgotten I’d written it. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to see I’d actually done a load of them since then, unintentionally (although I guess it figures that they’re all stuff I want to do in the first place). I now need to update the list; I’ll have a think.

These are things I want to do, see, experience or achieve. I’m going to give the list a good go starting in 2012 but I’m going to keep updating it when I think of new things so it’s likely to be a never-ending list 🙂  Well, that’s one thing I didn’t do – I promptly forgot all about it
 
  • Go to Peru and trek the Inca Trail – Booked for July 2012 😀 Done 😀
  • City break alone – Done 😀
  • Complete a photo-a-day project in 2012 Done 😀
  • Eat more healthily Kind of did, on and off…
  • Drive across America
  • Volunteer in Africa Done
  • Keep running Done 😀
  • Travel around Vietnam Done
  • Visit Australia and New Zealand Done
  • Do another bungee jump Done
  • Do another parachute jump
  • Visit a rainforest – Will be visiting the Amazon in July 2012 as part of my Peru trip 😀 Done 😀
  • Go to Cornwall – Booked for October 2012 Done 😀
  • Climb Snowdon Done
  • Run along the beach Done 😀
  • See the sunrise after staying up all night Done
  • Do the Sydney Harbour bridge walk Decided against it when I had the chance
  • Go back to South Africa Done
  • Get a tattoo Done 😀
  • See my grandparents more Moving away and bereavement hasn’t helped with this but I do try and ring my Nan regularly
  • Make someone feel happy
  • Run a half marathon – Entered for September 2012 Done 1:57:28 😀
  • Complete the Wolf Run (http://www.thewolfrun.com/) or similar Done 😀
  • Grow my nails – Done – November 2012. How long they will stay grown I don’t know but for now they are grown 😀
  • Visit more places/attractions in Lincolnshire – Moving away didn’t help with this
  • See Stonehenge Done
  • Go on the bone marrow donor register Done
  • Make a will Done 😀

Only three things not crossed out. A lot has changed since 2012; lots of different things now that I fancy doing. Another post on that will come soon.

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Day #164 12.06.16

Day 2 and we did a lot more advanced navigation, this time using compasses, bearings, dog legs and all sorts. Handily, the fog came down when were at the top of one mountain so we actually had to navigate using compass bearings and pacing because we couldn’t see a thing. Luckily it also skipped off shortly after so pretty much all weekend we had glorious views and not much rain, a total bonus.

I really did have a great weekend, learnt loads and can’t wait to go and try and get lost in the wilderness somewhere now 😉

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Day #163 11.06.16

Day 1 of my mountain navigation skills course at Plas Y Brenin, the National Mountain Sports Centre. Map reading and stuff. Today we did lots of map reading, distance measuring, pacing etc. And walking up mountains. Falling in love with Snowdonia <3.

Also drank beer and met new people. Always a nice by-product of these kinds of things.

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Surf’s Up.

It started like any good weekend away; with a ROAD TRIP! I get ridiculously excited about road trips for some reason. To me, it’s not just a pain in the arse to get out the way before something exciting, it’s the start of the excitement. All you need is other people in the car (solo road trips are fun, just not as fun), some tunes (taste optional) and snacks (mandatory, always mandatory). Good weather and shades also help make a road trip go from great to awesome, but, given that we live in England, we are realistic that this will not happen in the majority of UK road trips, so we can live without. In order for a road trip to go smoothly, some kind of navigation aid is crucial. In this day and age, normally a postcode is punched into an electronic device and tech does the rest. NOT THIS TIME PEOPLE! We had the old fashioned sat nav; a.k.a an actual map. After confirming that yes, Nigel actually didn’t have google maps (I didn’t realise that could happen) I had to read a road atlas. In a trip down memory lane, I soon realised why google maps are SO AWESOME (please don’t ever take them away from me) and was reminded of learning to drive and not realising how maps and road signs actually worked together.

Surprisingly, after no wrong turns at all, some questionable music, cucumber and carrot stick snacks (it’s what Sian does you know) we arrived in glorious technicolor sunshine at Surf Snowdonia, our home for the next couple of days. While we laid out in the sun, basking in this Welsh phenonemon, the others arrived. We decided to visit the pub go for a walk while we waiting for the rest. Soon, we were introduced to Rich’s incredible short-cutting skills, “a must for any trip away”, Bev explained, fond memories being recounted of ‘those times when…’. Losing track of time due to an extremely intellectual debate on the EU referendum, we realised that although Adam had decided to try out the new ‘congested route’ option on google maps (and had great success), they had actually arrived. Bev and I decided to start our activity weekend with a gentle jog to go meet them, which, after quite a few beers and no sporting wear (i.e. sports bra), went better than expected.

Giddy with excitement (or it could have been the fair few drinks and no food) we all skipped off to the restaurant, only to be met with panic and confusion from the restaurant who thought we had booked/hadn’t booked/should have booked/had 15 vegans. A few conversations with Stewart later, all was smoothed out when it seemed the main issue was just that they had to sit us in a slightly different area of the bar/restaurant. Which actually was completely irrelevant as it all had a hotel-lobby feel anyway and all we wanted to do was eat and drink, not admire the table dressings.

A good nights sleep later (actually it was, those pods had pretty comfy mattresses – OK they were plastic pee-proof, but still, they were thick enough that you didn’t feel your spine digging into a bit of wood, plus the snoring-stick did not have to be used), it was time to prep up for our Snowdon HIKE. Hike is in capitals here to make the point it is NOT A STROLL. Poor Emma had been told by Adam that we were just off on a little walk, so they win the Most Unprepared award for not realising this was proper walking boots-water-snacks & lunch walking territory. I later asked Adam if he had not read all the details on the Facebook page but apparently he only reads “the first bit then I don’t bother”. Luckily for him Emma takes it all in good spirits, Elena brought enough food to feed 3 (Lucian’s share) and we revel in the fact we have more piss-taking material on Adam to add to the pot.

Talking of food and awards, Maya wins the Most Food Ever award. I have never seen so much food brought (and made/sliced/diced/prepared) for a couple of nights. And I swear the box was still full when we took it back out the other end. But not shit food though, good, proper food, green stuff and all sorts, it was like having our own healthy chef with us!    

And talking of awards, Elena wins the Most Style award. From her silk kimono for camping to her colour co-ordinated mountain wear fashion range and perfectly big-curl hair, big sunglasses and even bigger smile, this is one stylish laydee.

In typical group-organisation style, we all jump into separate cars with only a vague idea of where we’re going. Nigel, confident even without google maps, decides to follow Elena (who does have tech) ‘just in case’. We head off in Ben’s car, stopping by the shop for essential supplies, adding a time delay dimension into the race-to-Pen-Y-Pass Car Park. Sat nav (not google maps, I hasten to add) takes us a beautiful (but bouncy) scenic way and we rock up at the car park, only to be met by a ‘Car Park FULL’ sign. Logical thing to do was for me to hang out the window and ask where we can park. Cue the cones being moved and blokey pointing to a space in the upper level. WIN. As it happened, there were actually 3 spaces up there, so we raced back down to the entrance to see if we could see the others (because of course, this being in the mountains there was no phone signal – this is important). After what felt like a statistically significant time period, we soon realised they must have passed by and headed to the park and ride car park a few miles down the road. As we were at the start point for the track we wanted to do, we decided to stay put. What we didn’t realise is that the others were doing pretty much the same thing, only they had some phone signal so had sent text messages and voicemails saying where we were and for us to meet them there. Of course, we never got these, and it also didn’t occur to us that they would think we hadn’t got into the main car park. Still, we had a lovely hour or so in the sun chatting to the wardens and watching the 24hr 3 peak challengers arrive. Only when Elena drove up did we all realise what had happened. Ha-ha-ha.

Bev wins the award for Most Alcohol Drunk But Least Effects Seen, based on previous events but also having been asked if she was running up the mountain by a young chap, clearly impressed by her form.

So reunited, but feeling like we were a lot later starting that we had hoped (we weren’t really), we all started marching up the Pyg Track at some pace and soon realised it was pretty steep and pretty muggy to be doing too much of that. Claire was having some trouble with her ankle and unfortunately (but sensibly) decided to drop out fairly early on. I personally think it was a possible ploy to go and flirt chat with first aiders all day.

Injury count = 1

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We trekked on, up and down with some cracking views. Last time I did this track it was gale force winds and driving rain, and I never saw a thing. This time was much more pleasant (and sweaty). Unbeknown to us, while we were walking along Linda was devising a cunning plan to make Adam carry some weight, given his unprepared-no-backpack status, and threw herself onto some rocks, bashing her shin pretty bad and requiring the freeze gel. Don’t forget a first aid kit when hiking folks!

Injury count = 2

There’s a few things you should always carry when hiking, especially up mountains. Weather can be changeable, so always carry layers and things like hats, gloves etc. Water and food for energy. Maps, camera. And maybe a carabiner and rope? Yes, according to Ben. What he thinks he can do with this bit of string rope I don’t know, but Inga explained ropes and carabiner are to Ben what a blanket is to a child and it keeps him happy.

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A scenic lunch later (with Sian nearly taking out walkers with apple cores and Linda delighting everyone with proper nice cookies), more going uphill and a stretch of walking with Sherbert, the miniature Schnauzer we made it to [nearly] the top. We decided to have a group photo just below the summit because there were still [some] views and the top was covered in cloud. Good job we did, the summit was like Picadilly circus and there was an actual queue to get to the top trig point (needless to say, we didn’t bother and just had fights with midges instead).

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Toilet done, midges fought, selfies taken, we headed back down. Bev’s dodgy ankle was playing up and the cars were in different locations so we split into two groups for the descent. Alex, Ben, Inga and myself went back down the Pyg Track to join the Miners Track with the rest doing the Llanberis Path. Rich regained the Most Likely To Get Lost award for suggesting another short cut which, I heard, wasn’t actually that short.

Injury count = 2 1/2 (technically not a new injury)

Our fantastic four group had a lovely stroll down. No short cuts here but a quick paddle in the lake for Ben, and Alex got to gossip to her hearts content. You can’t quiet that one up at all when she gets going 😉

Back at the ranch the mood was jovial as we’d got the hard bit out the way, it didn’t rain and of course we’d all earned that beer/prosecco/cider/any alcohol. Nigel was impressing everyone with his Big Job before we’d had enough of that and headed back over to the restaurant, with Stewart and the team slightly calmer this time as 1) we’d booked in and 2) we’d become friends and he loved us. Food eaten, back to pod life for a bit of a guitar sing song around the [metaphorical] campfire while we waited for Lucian who was on an epic late night drive. He was in for a treat when Elena headed to the gate in just her dry robe and not a lot else, but suspect that it wasn’t quite the treat he was hoping for when he ended up being in a sauna with 5 of us at 2am. Or maybe it was (although it wasn’t that kind of sauna action). When we finally figured out how to make the bubbles bubble in the hot tub, we enjoyed some relaxation until a ghostly apparition appeared at the fence, scaring us all. The Welsh ghost of Father Christmas, we were a bit worried he was going to tell us off for being in the hot tub but no, he just fancied a bit of a chat as I’d guess he was a bit bored and lonely wandering around at 3am by himself.

Sunday blasted into life with a massive blue sky and a huge hot yellow thing in the middle of it. This pleased everyone. Today was surfing and water activity day! So better to be hot while plunging into cold water,yes?

Some of the guys went surfing. Yes, surfing in the middle of Snowdonia, no where near the coast. A mechanical wave runs up and down this lagoon. The surfers tell me it’s nothing like being on the sea but fun nonetheless. Alex enjoyed it as she got chatted up by an attractive man in a wetsuit (although got spectacularly cock blocked by Ben. Fail). Ben mangled his already-mangled toes on the seam of the bottom of the lagoon. The rest just appeared to be having a massive laugh with some up time on the boards. To be honest, I was too busy talking perfect portfolio careers with Inga and sunbathing with Bev to watch properly.

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Injury count = 3 1/2

Surfing over, next up was Crash and Splash. Like a wipeout water obstacle course and <dramatic pause> The Blob (an inflatable thing where one person sits at the end and others jump off a platform onto the other end making them rocket into the air). This is one of those things that looks less scary/more fun than it actually is. Not only do you have to jump off a platform and land a certain way (this is HARD, well it was for me) you then sit at the end and wait with baited breath until you’re flung for [what seems like] miles in the air and have no control on how you land. Although it is much fun watching everyone’s less-than-graceful (except Emma, she was uber-graceful) landing. Inga must have had significantly more weight ‘blobbing’ her as she went pretty damn high, and managed to land in a way that winded her. However, this has earned her the Most Impressive Blob award. She also totally rocked at the monkey bars (while taking most of the skin off her hand pad bits near the bottom of your fingers – no idea what that bit of your hand is called).

Injury count = 5 1/2

The final activity of ‘get out of your wetsuit’ was slightly less energetic and once completed, a weary set of BMFers headed back out into the sunshine, ready to eat/drink/drive home/sleep/collapse*. Lots of hugs later, the group dispersed, all to go our separate ways. Some straight home, some stayed and had lunch, some of us stayed and had a nap in the sun before heading home. *delete as appropriate

And heading home now means another ROAD TRIP! Only when heading home, it’s just a plain old road trip. No capitals. Everyone’s weary, everyone’s tired, sad it’s over. There’s probably no snacks, no singing, no chatting. Definitely sleeping. This had not gone unnoticed by Nigel. Nigel decided to go to extreme efforts to get out of driving once he realised all his passengers were asleep by having a twisted ankle, not mentioned previously but clearly causing pain now. This did mean though that a shop stop was called for, and snacks were purchased. This perked everyone up, and after a while at the side of the road with Nigel getting his leg up in full view of the queue of traffic, we swapped drivers, made sure Nigel’s ankle was the comfiest in the car with a little pillow to rest on and the road trip turned into a Road Trip! Not quite full capitals, but enough to lift the car energy to at least – BOOM – keep us all awake.

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Final injury count = 6 1/2

That’s not too bad – less than half of us. There might have been some that I have forgotten. Because, it wouldn’t be a BMF weekend without any injuries and both identified and unidentified bruising. Lesson: always pack the freeze and ibuprofen gel. ALWAYS HANDY.

All in all, a top weekend, made top predominately by the people who were there. Often it’s not what you do but who you do it with. And this crew are the best. You all rock, THANK YOU ALL for a brilliant weekend.

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What’s next?

Rat Race Dirty Weekend

Finally got around to writing about the recent Dirty Weekend. Not, not that kind of dirty weekend (tsk), this was the Rat Race Dirty Weekend event at Burleigh House in Stamford earlier this month.

20 miles, 200 obstacles. They claim it’s the ‘world’s biggest obstacle course’ and invite people to come and show whether they’re hard enough (similar to that other type of dirty weekend really). I’d heard about this event a couple of years ago when Vic B had suggested we do it (I think we’d not long done the Wolf Run). I think I remember telling her she was a twat and to sod off, like how the hell could I run 20 miles, let alone with 200 obstacles. So, it was with bemusement that I found myself standing in the starting pen for that very race this year, asking myself not for the first time, what the hell I was doing.

When I took someone’s ticket in about October last year it was far enough away to promptly forget all about it. Back then, it sounded like a fun weekend that loads of people from BMF were off to and I’d get FOMO. I basically just wanted to join in the after party really, but I know I’d also not be able to stand by and watch everyone else go running. And besides, I do actually really love throwing myself into mud and over walls. No really, I do. When I used to watch the Krypton Factor as a kid, I’d always want to do the obstacle course. That and the film where you’d have to look out for difference and stuff. Observation round – that was it! Sod the shape sorting thing, get me outside. Me and my brother made various obstacles when we were younger but never a whole course. Think we ran out of spare wood.

Anyway, winter skipped along. Christmas came and went. I went on holiday. Spring started. Work project went live. Easter brought chocolate. My birthday happened. Then, all of a sudden, that weekend was a week away. I think all of us from BMF who were doing it collectively thought “Fuck!”. It crept up, the sneaky little bastard. So, with training consisting of runs when I could, hikes, hitting gym classes and trying to BMF the shit out of the week I was as prepared as I could have been.

First things first, this is not just an obstacle race, this is a weekend. Friday to Sunday with pre-parties and after parties and everything in between. It’s brilliantly organised from start to finish, so hats off to Rat Race for making everything run like clockwork (or at least seem like it). From the booking process online all through the email comms, then parking, registration, facilities, race and marshalls, finish, after party and clear up, it was top notch.

I’m not going to go through everything because that would a) take AGES and b) probably be dull for you. So let’s try and keep it in a nutshell-cat-page . The dirty weekend started on Friday with a ROAD TRIP. Everyone knows a road trip has to involve SHOTGUN and the worlds ROAD TRIP in capitals. We did this with Adam being a sore loser about shotgun, Sian slating my music choices, me trying (and failing) to work Ben’s SD card media thingy and Ben just trying to make sure he’s going the right way.

Arriving in good time (but still later than we’d thought) we parked up and skipped off like four eager beavers to find registration and the campsite, only to realise how fucking far away the car park was. For people that were planning on running 20 miles the next day this seemed unnecessary energy wastage. We got through registration, felt sick marvelled at the last obstacle (5 shipping containers high) and found the BMF campsite at near full capacity. So with some fence manoeuvring we claimed our corner patch with the same triumph as I imagined Christopher Columbus felt when discovering America.

Most of us had our tents up before Adam had even got his pole out so had time to figure out where all the most important facilities (toilets, showers, bar, waffle truck) were. Elena arrived hoping to smash the record for the smallest tent in the world and actually smashed the quickest tent erection record. We never did try the ‘most people in the smallest tent in the world record’. Next time. Next to the smallest tent was the Mansion Tent, still put up before Adam had finished whatever he was faffing around with. Surprisingly, Bev was not on the cider at this point, preferring to abstain, but we made up for her and had a good luck beverage. Not as many as the Dutch Mud Men and Mudstacle groups though, who presumably had read a study about how getting smashed and staying up late (and being LOUD) the day before a 20 mile ocr is excellent preparation. I’m not sure my body could handle that amount of preparation.

Race morning comes, and we had to get up at something like 6am for our start at some time around 8. I never actually knew what exact time we were starting, instead choosing to do what I normally do at BMF and rely on someone else to know what is going on. It was an exciting morning for me, as I got to try out my new Trangia mini camping stove for the first time to cook my porridge. This was important as this is the stove I’m planning on using if (when) I go on a bike adventure, and needed to test out whether I could work it without setting fire to myself, my tent or someone else. Test passed, hurrah!

Lucy brought out the camo paint for the obligatory BMF stripes. Harry, founder of BMF gave us words of encouragement (and a t-shirt). Ibuprofen taken, snacks prepared and various body parts were strapped and taped up. Sian’s head was not complete without the camo buff and Toby got into the beo-uff spirit by making his into horns. Pre-race joviality amongst the slight nervousness (yes, Adam actually admitted he was nervous, but shhh, don’t tell anyone). For anyone who doesn’t know, these races have ‘waves’ where a certain amount of people start the race at the same time. This mean that we are all herded into pens where we all wait, the air tight with anticipation and impatience. There was a pre-race warm up where there is a extremely attractive BMF instructor; which distracts the nerves of most of the women for a short while. And then all of a sudden, there’s some incomprehensible words shouted into a microphone! Some music! A countdown! Air horn! Flares! AND WE’RE OFF! Reach and jump to touch the inflatable start line. Why? Because. That’s. What. You. Do. Running! Into a throng of people, flare smoke, cheering, spectators. And so it begins. “Do not think about it’s 20 miles. Do not think about how tired you are already. Do not think about how little sleep you have had.” says the little voice.

And so you don’t. Not for a while anyway, you try and keep up with the rest of your group and have a laugh jogging, climbing, jumping, crawling and admiring the views. Helping your friends and making sure everyone is through each bit. Making sure Bev is OK when she hits her back and head on a trampette after slipping. Congratulating Elena when she jumps off the top bit of the water jump (it was bloody high, involuntary scream-type high). Cheering Rich on for going on the monkey bars over the water while having a bit of a boogie to the singer. Being helped onto the water platforms by Toby, and helping him through the tyre birth canal. Jogging with Linda on the long stretches and all having a laugh at the food stops, especially the one with crisps where we were all shovelling them in like we’d not eaten for weeks (believe me, the 6am breakfast was a long time ago by that point). We had a combination of serious running, clambering and jumping and then a bit of dicking about. Toby and I enjoyed a gentle float and splash about in the reservoir (while Elena and a friendly chap from Belgium made sure Bev got safely across). I enjoyed doing somersaults over the bars in the forest pretending I was 8 again.

Mile markers were measured against Bev’s garmin, and each time it came out different, but at least it gave us something to talk about and distract from the fact that we were still only at 3 miles. We were carrying a BMF flag, that became as precious to us as a newborn baby, cradled and carried the whole 20 miles (although you probably wouldn’t throw a newborn baby over some of the obstacles like we did).

The weather was pretty fab too. Because YES, weather is important. Not too hot, but warm enough that you didn’t get hypothermia as soon as you hit any water. Sunny enough for strange tan marks and that “been outside all day” look. This also helps conversation afterwards when you’re running out of things to say because you’re tired or drunk and so can just point to body parts instead, and that person knows exactly what you mean.

Elena and I ended up splitting from the rest of our group at some point. Not sure exactly where, but it was before the 13 mile mark, as this was the point you could finish at a half, or carry on for the full 20. There was no question what we would do, but this point was marked with some weirdly shaped box things to clamber over. I tried one but had run out of a energy as it was just before a food stop, so I ended up being pulled up in a most ungracious fashion by one arm and one leg by some Dutch bloke. I ended up sprawled out on the top shouting “thank you” while him and his girlfriend shouted “no problem”, already leaping over the next one like gazelles. The Dutch preparation was clearly working well.

Elena and I made our way over the next 7 miles getting to know each other a bit more, chatting to strangers and realising our previous lives had more in common than we thought, like a secret club no one actually wants to be a part of. Before we knew it, we were on the last mile! That 19 mile marker got a whoop-whoop. We arrived smiling at an obstacle where the incredibly enthusiastic marshall told us there was only one more obstacle to go. Hurrah we thought! But no! That cheery-faced cherub WAS LYING. There was at least 3 or 4. With some last surges of energy (and a rather painful mishap where I fell off one of the obstacles and slid down the wooden battens and onto the floor on my back like a comedy sketch) we emerged down the final straight, running head first into The 5-Storied Beast. That final wall/cargo net/slide. We looked at each other! We could do it! Off we shot, like rockets (as fast as rockets go that have already been let off 20 miles previous), reaching the top like triumphant adventurers. I imagine it was rather the same feeling as Roald Amundsen must have had when he was the first man to reach the South Pole.

Stopping for a quick photo shoot13179260_10154081316726341_5012695865979688295_n and look around, we threw ourselves down the last water slide with more gusto than you’d expect of people that had just ran 20 miles. Easy to do when you know you’re nearly done.

And that was it. We’d done it. YAY!

A more civilised photo shoot later, with medals is the requisite proof that the event was actually completed, in case you wake up and think it’s all a dream.

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Race done, first up was a quick chat with the guys who’d already finished, but most importantly it was then time for a shower. This simple daily task that most people take for granted suddenly takes on the same importance scale of what you’re going to name your first born. It’s one of the Best. Feelings. Ever. Especially if it’s warm.

Then, all dry and cosy (especially if you have a DryRobe) it’s time for food and BEER (or just beer, but I wouldn’t recommend this – see below) and a chat with fellow survivors team mates about all the best bits, how great it was, who fell off what, who completed what and any funny bits along the way. All this while also shouting congratulations to all the people coming in, looking weary and muddy and tired but deliriously happy. Probably at the thought of beer and that they don’t have to climb over another bit of wood (for at least a few hours until they get drunk and forget there’s an entrance to the campsite).

Then, the party extends to other groups of people (either the wider BMF group or Sian and I infiltrating Mudstacle). Then the Party becomes the Official After Party where we head to a big tent to drink more drink, dance like mad loons (because we are all surprised our legs still work, and feel the need to show this with various high-knee type dancing, facilitated by the Reverend telling us to “fookin bounce”) until it gets late and we are thrown out of the Big Tent and we head back to the campsite where it’s like the race is actually a weird futuristic society-controlling drug that has put everyone into a coma by 12pm.

And so we wake on the Sunday morning, bleary eyed and weary but triumphant, each one remembering what we have achieved, both as individuals and as a team, proud as punch.

We move slowly to pack up, both to enjoy the sunshine some more and also because of stiff legs and sore heads. And after hugs and fond farewells, the road trip back home begins. It is no longer in capitals. There is no shouting of shotgun, just a slightly subdued journey (me with my head out the window but that’s more because of the amount of beer imbibed). The sense of achievement does not need to be spoken about (mainly because speaking takes effort) but is known amongst us all, waiting to be taken home to be shared with loved ones.

As a post on Facebook says [something like] “This was not just an obstacle race. This was a Dirty Weekend”.

As this is a kind of review (it’s not really, but nevermind), here’s a few handy tips for if you’re thinking of doing it next year:

  • There are plenty of snacks at the food/drink stops so there’s really not much need to carry extra with you, especially in a running bumbag which either cuts you in half or bulks up underneath a t-shirt making you either look odd or pregnant in photos. It is NOT flattering, although this could just be me. I have yet to find ANY race photos I’d actually confess they were me. Maybe carry gels if you like them, they can be stuck down socks/pants/bras/arse cracks. Apparently. I’ve not tried them but I have tried similar ‘sports’ bar type things when doing London to Paris which well, let’s just say, it wasn’t good. I’ll stick to the bananas.
  • The camping is miles away from the car park. Take a wheeled contraption to take over the million and one things you will need for camping. Prepare to completely forget where you park your car, even if it’s right near the front gate.
  • Stick with your mates or find someone who is interesting for at least the second half. Towards the end you will need someone to talk to to distract you from the countdown of miles (“seriously, how is it STILL only 17 miles?”) and hallucinations of beer you get from about mile 15 (“mmmm is that beer? Oh, no, it’s a rabbit.”).
  • DO NOT forget ibuprofen. It’s useful for EVERYTHING.
  • Eat something after you finish, preferably with protein and carbs. The temptation to just hit the beer is overwhelming and WILL result in a massive crash in the days afterwards. I have tried and tested this many times, so take my word for it. These kind of events take so much more out of your body than you realise, even if you feel OK. Be kind to your bod and give it some TLC after, it’s the only one you get (unless your shares in cloning or human robots come to fruition at some point in the future).
  • But DO take more booze than you think you’ll need. There is a somewhat frivolous atmosphere requiring a high level of celebration.
  • DO speak to as many random strangers as you can. They are interesting and funny and make for a fully rounded experience. Hug them if you can, especially if they are foreign and don’t understand you. They WILL love it.
  • Go for a shower as soon as you can after you finish. That shower will feel amazing and having a beer knowing that you’re not sitting with mud up your arse is pretty special.
  • Take lots of pictures but don’t forget to stop and look around and up every once in a while. Remember the smiles and look of satisfaction on the faces of the people around you, the constant positive energy of the marshalls, the bright lights of a party done well and the stars in the sky once it’s all over and the world is quiet.

Don’t just take my word for it, oh no. Watch Ben’s most awesome gopro video of the weekend here. It’s bloody AWESOME, has great music and just sums up the whole weekend.

All this is more than just running around outside and getting muddy. It’s about trying something new and pushing yourself. It’s about facing fears and doing it anyway. It’s about seeing what your body is capable of. It’s about doing something different with your weekend and not watching the world through someone else’s screen. It’s about maxing the shit out of life, if this is your idea of fun. But most of all, it’s about the people you do it with. The people that help you over that fence, old friends, new friends or strangers. The people that help you on that water jump. The people that keep you going when you think you’re fading. Being part of a team, a collective. The people that make you laugh. The people that share their prosecco or big tub of rice. The people that you make memories with.

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That’s what BMF is so great at. It provides you a ready made team, a set of buddies to do crazy shit like this with. Full of friends from the off, whichever park you’re at.

Give it a go, what you got to lose?

 

 

Day #85 25.03.16

A nice day out at the seaside. On Bank Holiday Friday (just a normal day off for me). So yes, driving down the M5, only main road into Devon and Cornwall from the Midlands, is of course going to be a pleasant experience. Hmmm. But we had snacks, music, sunshine and chat, so who cares if it takes 20 minutes or two hours?

Cheltenham is lacking a beach, or indeed any kind of water type stuff, so I wanted to escape the town for a bit and get some sea air. Google tells me the nearest beach to Chelts is Clevedon, so that’s where we headed. Fairly cute little village, with a small pier and stony beach. Just what the doctor ordered.

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Day #80 20.03.16

Still felt shit today. Not sure if it’s just a two day hangover or I’m ill. Either way, I still could have slept all day and I wasn’t about to waste another day of the weekend so I dragged myself out and went for a walk around/over Cleeve Hill on a thing arranged by BMF. The first mile or so was spent thinking I’d throw up any minute but eventually that stopped and I think it helped to get a bit of fresh air.

While walking around, trying not to throw up and enjoying the view, I thought about the boots on my feet. They’re still my very first pair of walking boots, bought back in 2011 when I went to walk Hellvellyn in the Lake District with the guys from work. I remember the excitement of buying some proper boots, although I felt like a fraud and I had no idea of what I was doing or what I really needed. Admittedly, they’re a completely different colour to when I bought them and have been waterlogged in stinky water too many times than I’d like (I wouldn’t get too close to them), but they’re still going strong and there’s nothing really wrong with them.

They’ve got me up Ben Nevis (still my favourite hike even though it was constant rain and wind and no visibility, but think that was mainly down it being a wonderfully slightly-illicit weekend with a certain person). They finished the hat trick by summitting Scafell Pike and Snowdon (not in the same day, I hasten to add. I wasn’t fucking superfeet.). They’ve trekked the Inca Trail in Peru and a 60km hike in South Africa. They took me to the Peak District where I walked with cows and ate Bakewell Pudding. They trekked miles in Lincolnshire on head-clearing walks and walks that decided my future and shattered someone else’s.

They were a metaphorical first step to a new life, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. And so now, I’m much more attached to them than if they were just a stinky pair of old walking boots. I’ll get new ones at some point, I know I will, and these will get thrown out. But I’ll always remember these, just like I’ll always remember my first pair of proper running trainers, my first day at school or a new job or a first boyfriend, and that first person post-separation on that illicit weekend. Gone, but never forgotten, held as a cherished memory.

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Day #72 12.03.16

This is it! The last day of BMF Cheltenham’s Hell Week. All week we’ve been mud running, double sessioning, burpeeing, sweating, lunging, swearing and collapsing.

Today was marked by a 10K mud/obstacle run somewhere off the A46 north of Cheltenham. It was a gloriously sunny morning that saw us all rock up with more enthusiasm that we probably should have had, although I suspect this was more to do with the bar that promised us some gold nectar should we manage to drag ourselves over the finish line.

There was lots of running. Now, I love running, and I know other BMFers like running but after Hell Week it was the last thing we wanted to do, especially up the little hills. It took all my strength to get my legs around that course. Doing something like that is all about the people you do it with. I was with such a great bunch of supportive people who kept me doing and dragged me round (quite literally at one point, by the hand and pushing me up a hill by the bum). And the fact the course wasn’t the 6.1 miles it should have been, rather it was 7.78 miles made it all the more sweeter, and that pint taste all the more golden.

Nice job BMF Cheltenham (and Worcester). Well done.

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