Mens Health Survival of the Fittest – Edinburgh 2014


A last minute decision to do this race after a friend had to pull out with injury, I was looking forward to this race, I had enjoyed it last year but others who had run in previous years had been disappointed.  I was keen to see if Rat Race had listened to the feedback.

Oh boy – we were not disappointed!

The change over of the name at the registration tent was seamless and very straightforward.  This earned brownie points instantly, through to what I would call the event village.  It was more concentrated last year which created a better feel about it and a massive buzz about the event.

My only disappointment was the lack of cover for the bag drop and lack of changing area, which worked out okay as the weather, for the most part, held out for us.  Leaving that behind, we were warmed up in front of the big stage, under Edinburgh Castle with the statement ‘The UKs toughest obstacle race’ before being guided to the start line a short distance away.  This made much more sense, it also meant there was less hanging about on the start line.  As we listened to the countdown, the rain began coming down heavier, was this a sign of what was to come?

‘GO!’           We were off, straight into a series of hurdles, Men’s Health at work, great to get straight into some obstacles.  I floated over these hurdles, well at least in my own head that’s what it felt like, this was followed by a stretch off running, up the stairs and then around the back of the event village and steadily gaining height.  We were then into a series of obstacles including hay bales, several walls – made even more challenging with the rain, up and down over lorries, which I could swear became even higher with each one and when you are as short as myself, it increases the challenge dramatically.

Heading up Calton Hill, the views were simply spectacular over the city and looking out over the water.  It definitely made the climb worthwhile . . .  I think?!  A series of obstacles met us on top of the hill, including the urban jungle.  This involved climbing, sliding, dropping down and around a frame of scaffolding, going over parallel bars – ‘anyway you want except walking through the obstacle’, monkey bars – these were very difficult to even get to, shorties are us.  Up and over a series of barriers, a quickly figured out a good tactic on this, hit the corners and you could clear two sections at once.  There was a new obstacle a single bar which you had to cross with just your arms.  Fairly challenging but I kept putting one arm in front of the other to the cheers of the marshall, great support.  We had to duck under more scaffolding, not the friend of tall folks, cargo net crawl which, for a nice change, was on a downhill section.

Downhill from here the marshall called out, ‘awesome’. Eh NO!!  Yes we descended for a short while but we headed out toward Arthurs seat.  It could mean only one thing, following the inflatable obstacle, made all the more fun slipping and sliding, the obligatory cone carry and onto the climb.


Everyone I could see was reduced to a walking pace, driving their hands down onto their quads to propel them onwards and upwards into a wall of wind.  Part way, a sight for sore eyes, guys with jelly sweets.  I quickly learnt that I could not eat, chew, breathe and swallow all at once, so half of those were wasted.  Despite the weather we had a clear view of the Pentlands in the background, fantastic. By the time you hit a flatter section, calfs and quads were burning, but felt good for a slow run.  The next exciting obstacle was the slide, I was looking forward to this, THE best obstacle last year.  Massively, massively disappointing this year, bone dry – I had to run down it.

Other obstacles included spiders web, scoring a football, more hurdles, sandbag carry which at one point felt like we were descending into a crypt.  Coming back into Princes street gardens from the back we approached the final few obstacles, some new ones thrown in to keep you on your toes and mix it up.  These involved sliding through urban jungle, over slanted walls, run up an incline, into the paddling pool for a belly slide under a cover, sliding through three sets of tyres,141019161746_H a climbing wall up onto a platform and then a vertical descent on the other side.  There was deeper water to come to finish the section of, a very kind guy helped me here to get out of the water, what a true gent.  Epic finish was the ‘Wall of Fame’ the guys are fantastic here, helping you up onto the wall.  This a brilliantly run event, very seamless, marshalls were simply brilliant, they were motivating, gave simple instructions, the goody bag was well equipped, especially with . . .  eh, lube for every runner – could of used that on the water slide.

This event was 100% better than last year in terms of the route and completely surpassed my expectations based on my first event the previous year.  Epic views, tough climbing, taking in the key areas of Edinburgh in one race – fantastic!  Is it the ‘toughest obstacle course’?  Based on the numerous races I have taken part in I have to say no but a big improvement on last year from my perspective.

100 Mile Challenge – The Cotswolds Way – Day 3 & 4

Day 3

It has been a while since I have been posting to my blog, simply because life, work, training all took over.  So the final installment of my 100 Mile Challenge, my big charity run is now here.  I have chosen to combine the last 2 days for reasons which will become apparent.  .  .  .  .

We woke on day 3 to what can only be described as torrential rain, a continuation of the weather we had run to our tents to sleep in.  I opened my eyes to the calming sound of rain bouncing of my tent but un-nervingly it was also causing my lining of my tent to stick to the outside sheet.  It was a case of pile on a load of clothes and run for breakfast.

At breakfast it was really quite inspiring to see so many folks brushing off the difficulties they had faced the previous day after hearing the stories told by Jamie McDonald(  Check out his website, pretty awesome guy!  I was not one of these people, a tired head maybe, I was sore, aching, hobbling when I walked. Lots of us were trying to get out early envisaging it being another awful day but purely due to the weather we were about to face.  The storm had finally found us!

The staff as always were incredibly helpful and cheery despite the weather.  I headed off at a weary pace while I could move well and actually felt like I found my rhythm quickly and it was back onto the trail.  We ran through a wooded area and onto a golf course, it actually felt at oints like you were running through a river, massive puddles, golfers with their huge brollies.  The rain was simply drumming down and I had to really pay attention as I felt it was difficult to work out your direction as the markers seemed few and far.

At some point the rain eased and it felt very mild, soaked through I began to enjoy myself, the cooling effect of the rain had really worked for me.  I clearly needed to get used to running in the mild heat.  Now this day I remmeber vividly because, well, I had to deal with the delicate matter of needing the toilet .  Of course I was, as mentioned soaked to the skin.  Now we all know there is nothing worse than hauling doon wet knickers for a piddle in the underbrush, actually praying, YES, I was praying that no-one would appear on the path from either end as they would have a clear view of me in all my glory!  NOT a pretty sight I have to tell you.  Not only that I managed to sting my arse on the nettles, aye not the best.  It was a now or never moment but on the other hand there was never going to be a never moment.


This day by far felt and was the shortest, I arrived at the camp along with several others ahead of the expected time. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed day 3 way more, I think because of the coolness of the day and the weather, true scots.


I felt alot better after my run today, my legs had eased, it felt good, yes I ached but who wouldn’t after taking on this.  But I was tired, all through my run I had gone over and over the order I would do things when I got into camp.  Then I would re-think it, and again, and again.  It changed as soon as I arrived in camp for numerous reasons outside of my control and the best way forward?   Sleep!





Day 4




Day 4 was a strange day with the weather going on and off all day, now I mean ALL day!  I would leave each checkpoint dry and become soaked.  I started the day talking to myself over and over, giving myself a pep talk.  I had packed my bag, unpacked, re-packed it and repeat.  This was the longest day but also our final day.


There was a slight deviation to the route, this was fine, my mantra today was – ‘Do not get lost, do not get lost’.  In fact I had several, ‘keep going Louise’, everytime I passed an acorn, for some reason unknown to myself, ‘Carry on sir’ with a chuckle to myself.  Its the little things that keep us going.  For alot of today I would be on my own, with groups of folks in front or behind me to some degree.  Again, some incredible scenery, along the way.  I passed sections with telephone wires overhead, I swear they sounded like sizzling bacon!  I had a few dodgy moments on day 4, a few wobblers, I had to steady myself.


In fact coming up toward the half way checkpoint, I believe I lost myself for a period, almost got myself run over but I was still going.  Not intentional of course, it was a really bad section of road where cars flew round the corner, one minute clear, the next not.  It was a bad period in the run.  My head went down for a while, a long while it seemed.  I was working on, for example, checkpoint 1 out of 4, then 2 out of 4 = half way.  There was also a very long section I had to count down the miles on that section also.  I had to keep it in my head so that I was always, where feasible, I was making progress and winning.  It was tough, reall tough, I began to start hurting.  And then . . . . . .



I came to the bottom of a field and looked up, I couldn’t see another post but I could see loads and loads of cows!  All paths led to the cows, so off I went, only to find they were all hanging about at my next gate, hahah.  This cheered me up no end, while we eye-balled each other wondering who was moving.  Well I decided I wasnt spending all day witing and no one was appearing behind me to save me, damsel in distress style.


This has to be one of my greatest feats to date.  To be able to push my own boundaries and combine this with raising funds for a local charity which is using physical activity to help their users is simply an amazing feeling!  I dont want to give too much away for those doing this in the future.  But without doubt I would highly recommend it!  As a runner I found it diffiuclt to adjust my mindset from a competitive one, but there was great banter from staff and fellow runners alike.  However, it is alittle dangerous – major discussion point is other races.

I had to dig deep to do this and complete my chosen task, remembering that so many people believed in me, they had sponsored me to complete this.  The more I focused on this the more determination and grit I was able to take from it and keep pushing.  Have  alook at my pictures, pop any comments or questions below and Ill get back to as many as I can.


Finally, I would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to every single person who sponsored me, who text me and motivated me and encouraged me.  For my feel good package I recieved on my return because I was full of the cold from day 3, simply to everyone who took the time to support and help me in any way.  I cant say how much I appreciate it.