The Nuclear Rush. Ooh. Well hello there, you cheeky little race! Allow me to introduce you to a 12km, 52 obstacle race in the Essex countryside and woodland. Sunday morning. Cold and windy. Intimidated was an understatement.
I’d agreed to join a HUGE green army of Pegasus Military Fitness machines, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive (please read “apprehensive” as “peeing pants with fright”).
Quelle surprise we arrived with minutes to spare (it was my fault… It’s always my fault when timing is concerned). For some reason I’m still struggling to understand, during this critical car journey, I forgot that you actually have to get off a motorway at a marked junction and can’t just swing off whenever you please. So yes, I finally admit, I took us miles in the wrong direction. NEVER TRUST ME WITH A MAP. Also Nick, please buy a Tom Tom.
Luckily the Pegasus team’s choice of lime green tops made my comrades easy to spot in the pre-race crowd, and I bounded out of the car and over to be greeted by them.
I felt safe as part of such a huge number, and the friendly hellos and happy/terrified faces – Jess, Liz, Sarah, Graham, Laura, Claire and of course the mighty duo Barry and Simon, all there with everyone, making me feel like I train with them every week. I’d trained with these lovely Pegasus peeps before, and had admired them for their spirit and inclusiveness, which was definitely present on this chilly morning.
The starter sounded and we shuffled towards the start line until the crowd thinned out enough for us to get our big green caterpillar jogging. Obstacle number one was far too early for my liking, but set the tone; off we slid, down a ditch, for a nice refreshing wade across cold, muddy crotch-deep water. Excellent. The screams of shock were both funny and nerve-wracking as we approached.
As the race really took shape, I quickly realised that this first pool of muddy water was more akin to a friendly bird bath than some of the stuff I eventually found myself wading through.
The race was tricky, and the obstacles varied around the theme of MUD- there were a lot of slide-down-into-muddy-water-and-drag-yourself-up-again challenges, which after about the 10th one, my arms gave up and I lost the strength to drag myself out. Instead I was reduced to relying on people to shove me up from behind like they were trying to save an elephant who had waded into a swamp. Then all that was left for me to do was thrash my hands around, trying to grab onto a kindly strong person ahead of me who dragged me out, to a weak and slightly sheepish little “thank you”.
Don’t worry, I did my fair share of bum-shoving and arm dragging to others in the race, but even so, this was one of the hardest parts for me! As Barry kindly put it after the race, I reminded him of something specific when I was trying to haul my ass up the banks:
Yeah- thanks for that! :)
The obstacles took us on aerial slides across water, climbing hay bales and sliding on our bellies through metres and metres of wet, thick mud under rope meshes. This was a particularly tricky one, but very satisfying when you emerge from under the rope mesh- I was close to re-enacting that scene where the guy from Shawshank Redemption finally finishes crawling his way to freedom.
Through tubes, down slides, and carrying a heavy log about 500m through a river (which I SWEAR I kept hold of the whole time but the photos would suggest I discarded it at the first opportunity).
Through peat and compost bogs (that I initially refused to get in because I thought it was a pool of horse poo), but I eventually shut my trap- mainly from fear of ingestion- upon learning it was not actual poop, and slunk into the smelliest pool of slime I have ever encountered. Nuclear Rush, you are cruel.
At one point, I slid down the bank that I think split my trousers from waistband to crotch, and led to a bruised, scratched botty. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that this had happened other than to think “ouch, that was a sharp branch” until about 2km later when a lady sidled up behind me and said “um, you do know your trousers have split, don’t you?”
That horrific moment when you slide your hand around and feel bare flesh through a massive hole in your clothes. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s never a good realisation.
LUCKILY I had a long vest top on, and so carried on the race pulling this down to hide a cheeky bid for freedom.
Add to this a few straight km of running through fields and woodland, and I admit by about km 10 I was absolutely done. I was well aware that I was one of the last (if not the last the last) Pegasus runner, and Barry and Simon were doing a fantastic job of staying with Claire and I as we made it along behind the majority of the rest of the group. I felt really bad that Barry was missing out on the bants further up in the race and stuck with panting, pant-flashing me, so I urged him to go on ahead and I’d see him at the end. He asked if I was genuinely bollocksed, and upon ascertaining that I indeed was, he jogged off and it was just me, my breath, the woods, and my mooning arse to get to the finish line.
At least, that’s what I thought. Because at the foot of the last obstacle was Barry, who had waited for my mess of a body to come stumbling out of the woods. I was surprised to see him, and he said humbly “we don’t leave anyone behind, come on”. Well that was it. We were about 200m from the finish line and such a gesture made tears well up in my eyes- what a dude. We tackled the last slide-into-muddy-water together after I had a little girly (and slightly embarrassing) cry at the top, and jogged to the finish line while the rest of the team cheered us on from the side lines.
It was an amazing feeling, and I just kind of cried, laughed and snotted like a 5 year old whilst the more coherent members of the team thrust a cup of tea into my hand and we queued for foil blankets.
We did it!
I changed in the car park (basically- slid 4 layers of clean clothes onto muddy, wet skin so mud was encased within clothing), and John and Kirsty were incredibly kind enough to offer to drive me to a tube stop on their way home- you saved my (bare) ass, guys!
And so the final hurdle began. Woodford tube station to my home in Shoreditch. Here I was, shoeless, with dried mud all over my face, low blood sugar and looking for all intents and purposes like a farm animal.
People gave me a WIDE berth on that tube, I’m telling you. And when I was eventually spat out at Liverpool Street- well, I made a shoeless, bug-eyed beeline for burger king and stood next to the counter eating 7 chips at a time while the attendant patiently held his hand out for payment. People were staring. I just didn’t care. I live less than half a mile from Liverpool street station, but I was not about to attempt walking home shoeless, so I demanded a taxi driver to take me round the corner. He was unimpressed and as I got in said “just don’t TOUCH anything!” so I essentially hover-surfed these last few minutes home.
When I got in? Everything was discarded in a second and I sat by the front door, still in my coat and hat, burger king on my lap staring into the middle distance in shock. My housemate nearly pissed himself laughing.
I managed to grunt “take photos for blog” which he of course delighted in.
After the food had done its trick, I was up and about again, leaving a trail of dried mud-flakes around the flat, looking at my medal and chuckling at what the hell I had just completed.
Nuclear Rush- two weeks ago, I said never again. Now, I am wondering when the next one is! And Pegasus- you are amazing people. I don’t think I’ve been made to feel so welcome to a crowd like yours before. Maroon/Green/Mud Machine- you guys rock!