The big day has come and gone, and Paul and I are still alive. Bruised and sore, but alive!
It was 26 degrees (C) and barely a cloud in the sky on the day, so the universe was listening to my pleas. As a result, the ice bath at the start was nearly welcome. I cheated a wee bit because I didn’t submerge my head, but to be honest, very few people did.
Then it was a bit of a run uphill – this was fine, apart from the heat, but not terribly difficult if you had any training at all. I felt that about most things – if you’d done any training outside of your normal comfort zone of running or a spin class at the gym, you’d be grand with the obstacles.
There were a few of the swamp type obstacles that people went around. They still had to go through mud, just not the super deep mud. Paul and I kind of said, ‘well, this is what we signed up for, so might as well go through it!’ I was surprised just how much some people ‘cheated’. Seriously, why’d you pay 70 euro to not do stuff?
One thing that surprised me was that it took AGES. Paul’s dad was minding our kids near the finish in the hopes of cheering us on at different points. When we left them, I did a little (ridiculous now) calculation in my mind: it takes me about 40 minutes to run 7k, so double that for the obstacles and add a few more minutes … 2.20pm start, 4pm finish – no problem. Well, at some point there was a marshal there to cheer us on (there was a serious lack of marshals around, to be honest) and he said, ‘you’re 15 minutes from the end!’ I asked him what time it was and he said 10 past 5!!! What?!? We could not believe it had taken more than 3 hours to do this thing.
Had there been more marshals, there might have been less congestion at each obstacle. Some of them had serious queues that you couldn’t get around. Very frustrating indeed. We were tired, but not so tired that it would have taken us that long without the crowds. Definitely something the organisers should work on for next time.
One obstacle that was well-manned was the new one that they’d added for this event – the lake jump. Everyone was given a life vest, which I definitely needed as I’m not a confident swimmer at all, and the jumps were well organised. That was another very cold water plunge (this time I couldn’t avoid being submerged because it was a 10ft jump!) and the cold water was very welcome at that stage – cooled us off and cleaned us off too!
An obstacle I was really looking forward to was the Buplex slide, but when we reached it, some of the slides looked quite dry. Again, the super hot day caught them off guard. The water that was flowing onto the slides wasn’t enough to keep it wet in that sunshine. I saw loads of people stopping a third or halfway down because they couldn’t slide anymore. Thankfully, I got good momentum going and managed to slide all the way down into the mud – the best! Really enjoyed that.
The final obstacle of The Wall was definitely the toughest. I thought for a second I might not make it over. I was literally standing on my husband’s shoulder, and even head sometimes (!) and there was a fella on the other side helping to pull me over. Not a graceful picture, me trying to get one knee over and slipping again and again. But I made it! The relief was incredible. Meanwhile, Paul helped 6 or 7 more people over before doing it himself. I couldn’t see over the wall to see where he was at, so I had to jump up and down for a brief glimpse to the other side, shouting, ‘Paul!’ to no avail.
I have to say, the teamwork and co-operation along the way was absolutely brilliant. People were amazing to one another. I’ve run a good few road races in my time, and you see support among the runners, but you can also see a bit of pushing (I remember being appalled by the behaviour of my fellow runners in the NY marathon in 2007 crossing the first bridge). Let me tell you, there was nothing but craic and helping hands along the way on Saturday. It was uplifting.
The comedown after conquering The Wall was crossing the finish line to the so-called ‘Little Piece of Heaven’ to crisps, bananas and baby wipes… where the feck was the water??? Honestly, that was just totally unacceptable on a day like that. I appreciate that it was hotter than expected and people probably took more than they were allocated so the bottles ran out. But for goodness sake, you send somebody out to the shops to pick up some more. Incredible.
All in all, it was a great experience though. Paul and I really enjoyed ourselves and were proud that we finished. It was also great to train for something together after years of doing individual sports. We brought our 6-year-old daughter back to the same spot the next day to do Hell and Back Junior. She really enjoyed it, but was hoping for more obstacles after hearing about our experience. Little champ.
Paul may still do a gear review here, but I won’t be holding my breath for that!