Women Run Strong – Great Event!

12799030_1096537073745039_8460040759097922162_n

What better day to post this blog than International Women’s Day!  A post on an event called Women Run Strong!!  Think about that for a second, what do those words mean to you?  All the positives, the supportive environment, lacking judgement or pressure, first or last – all supported, no timing – ‘Just Run’

I hope you all had a lovely Mothers day on Sunday?  Including all of you lovely ladies who may not be mothers!!  I loved hearing about all the races that took place, I was over in Edinburgh for 2 reasons:

Support clients who were running Women Run Strong Edinburgh run. (As a personal trainer)

Support my sponsor Women Run Strong in their first Edinburgh run.

I arrived in Edinburgh in the safe hands of Shauna and Daniel, our key supporter!!  We headed into The Crowne Plaza in Edinburgh, well, this was like no other run registration I have ever been to.  Very civilised – brilliant – but also very relaxed!  Avril who runs Women Run Stong has done a fantastic job of creating a community with the facebook group for those signed up to run, you get to know faces, names and whats happening with the run.

This is ideal, I know many of you will agree, it can be pretty intimidating turning up at a race event on your own.  Not here, you knew faces, everyone incredibly welcoming.  Not only that water, tea and the best – biscuits available to munch.  You can tell I am sold already haha.  Sign-up was an easy affair, we then waited on the rest of the crew to appear.

12799071_1710395169172525_4538943199466152473_nNot only that but you’ll never guess who I managed to run into – Cathy from  The Art of Communication! Wonderful to be a part of her 6th event out of the 50 planned this year!  Here is the epitome of ‘Women Run Strong’, I always think its nice to run i12806103_1096537113745035_2572782224698782507_nnto people you know at events.  Not only that I got to meet people I have been communicating with on social media.  I love making new friends!

I was lucky enough to meet Lucja, who has run in the Marathon des Sables previously AND is going back this year.  Nice to know I’ll know someone out there.  I think I picked her brains, well and truly, it was a revelation to be honest (Ill keep that for another time).  We were then led down to the start line, a very short walk away at the base of Arthurs Seat.

 

Wow! We had an amazing day for our run, there was no pressure on this run and I already knew I wanted to push but at the same time I had been nursing a sore back all week and didnt want to cause myself any further issues.  But also, I already knew I’d be stopping to take pictures along the way and wanted to talk with folks.  I honestly felt sluggish in this run, quite possibly my lack of exercise all week.  The views were simply – Outstanding!  We could not have had a better day for todays run, the sun shone, you could see for miles, the company was fantastic – I spoke with so many women today.  All different levels and experience.  The marshalls were massively encouraging and really brought a smile to your face as you rocked up and either gave you a jelly baby or some water and encouraged you on your way.

Did I say the views were spectacular?  Just in case you wondered .  .  .  . so were the hilly sections hahaha!  Phew, I now know why there was a massage included in your cost.  We all supported each other and stomped on, after the most dramatic of hills it became more undulating but still hilly.  I am not sure even I am making sense here.  I spoke with a lovely lady who said that despite the fact she trained around Arthurs Seat, she had in fact not been on the trails we covered, so a real positive there.  I can see this would have been a harder route in wet conditions.

A run out back to the hotel entrance, where I managed a wee sprint race with a fellow runner to finish well – always good, maybe.  And the prosecco, oh the prosecco!  What better way to finish the run than to be welcomed back with a glass of the bubbly stuff.12794416_1096537653744981_3411775268710125603_n

Quick sip, passed to Avril (I think she is still saving this for me 😉 )off I went back for my crew.  Louise’s PT 4 U motto – ‘NO-one gets left behind’.  This has been a long held motto an done I am very proud of.  Everyone of the girls did well today, for some their first run, we had 2 in the 5km and 2 of us did the 10km.  We did well and supported each other – the important part.

Are you getting what Women Run Strong is about? If not, why not pop over to the website or Women Run Strong facebook  or even come along to one of their runs!  Don’t just take my word for it, I asked my clients for some feedback, here’s what they said –

‘I’ve just completed the Women’s Run Strong 10km run in Edinburgh today. My first trail run and something I thought this time last year was beyond my physical reach. The event was beautifully organised, Avril and her team were superb from the swift registration to the jelly babies stop,  the excellent marshalls and the prosecco and massage waiting at the end. It was a tough run with killer hills but the views from the top were just spectacular well worth the effort. Another stand out factor was the team spirit amongst the runners, everyone actively encouraging and supporting each other. A run I would certainly do again.’ (Pauline A)

‘Women Run Strong? Well, on Sunday I think I was only hopeful of achieving 1/3 of those!! And even then only just!!

Having initially signed up for the 10k I could have easily pulled out as training in January & February was a non event. But I didn’t! Knowing that a buff, a glass of bubbly and a massage were also signed up to, I swallowed my pride and decided I would at least venture out on the 5k – that had to be easier than the unprepared for 10k? Yes? Hmm … I’m not sure!!

For someone who likes jogging on a flat tarmac route with a strong tailwind … what greeted me was something quite different!! The words “trail” and “hill” were order of the day!!! I think “brutal” best describes what I was muttering as I WALKED slowly up the 150m steep ascent to a fabulous view across Edinburgh! Waiting for me at the top was Shauna … a huge smile on her face cheering me on! And the view was spectacular!!

We crossed the finish line together … even managing a wee sprint to the tray of bubbly!! At 6.3k it is safely the longest (and hardest) 5k I have ever run … or run a bit of anyway!!! I’m not even sure it was easier than the 10k … but I wasn’t going to test that theory out when it got to the “10k that way / 5k this way” point! With a leg massage now firmly in my sights the 5k route was the only way home for me! Once again, if it hadn’t been for Shauna, I don’t think the leg massage would have happened for me as the queue was long and the clock was ticking on me having to get back to Dundee! But it happened and I got home with minutes to spare!

Anyway, asides how brutal I felt the run was and how underprepared I was … it was a fabulous event … location, people, massage, friendly faces, give aways and doing it with a wee crew of people who really don’t leave you behind (even when you would be quite happy to be left behind to find a flat route home!).

It was genuinely a lovely morning … a very relaxed gathering of women joining together to have a good time … from walkers to hard core runners … some idiot even ran with a bright yellow 8kg back pack on and looked like she was wearing about 20 layers of clothes – I’m sure I overheard her asking where the nearest sand dune was!? You see them all at these events, you really do!’ (Nicola R – I was ggoing to cut this down but actually, it gives you context and the reality of the day).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Sponsor Profile: Lift the Bar: Education & Support for Personal Trainers

The latest sponsor for my that I would like to introduce you all to is Lift the Bar, they are an education and mentoring group  who will simply rock your world as a personal trainer.  They really do bring community to a position that can create the feeling of isolation.  Particularly if you are used to working for someone else.

The generosity of this group kind of blew me away, to be honest, everyone’s kindness and support has.  Story for another day however.

Chris who runs LTB with a fantastic group of guys, really does listen, they all ‘GET IT’, been there, done it, got the t-shirt and if they haven’t they’ll find someone who has.  But that statement does the group no justice at all, they use that information and draw on the knowledge of specialists to really take you to that next level.

This not only exists in terms of specific business considerations but also supporting you. Mental health is one of those things that often personal trainers will talk freely about in terms of supporting clients to improve through physical activity BUT there is that fear that if we put it out there that we too may struggle we are seen as weak.  Here is where my challenge of doing the Marathon des Sables resonated, we believe deeply in supporting each other to be better and do better for others, mentally and physically.

If in doubt, got questions or just want a bit of a gander, give them a shout Lift the Bar– well worth the time and effort.  Enough of my chat, read on to really get a better description . . . .

 

Lift The Bar – A Personal Training Community

 

Most people become trainers because they had a positive personal experience with health and fitness and they wanted to share that with others, whilst hopefully making a decent living.

You get through your “qualification” and skip off into the sunset helping more lives than Mother Teresa, or maybe not.

More than with most industries, the fitness domain can often leave you confused as to what is actually right, or even good practice. It’s something the experts even like to argue loudly about over social media.

High fat is best.

High carb is best.

Squats are the best exercise.

Squats will ruin your knees.

And so it continues.

Then there’s the isolation. You’re a one (wo)man band. Working long hours often on your own or under the disdainful gaze of “the competition”, you know, the other trainers in your gym.

And what’s the result of this high stress, all consuming and often-convoluted vocation?

19 out of every 20 PT’s will be out of the industry within five years.

Let that sink in for a second. In a world with exponential rates of obesity trainers are struggling to make a living when they are needed now more than ever.

So what did we do?

 

We created Lift The Bar: Education and Support for Personal Trainers (LTB)

 

Predominantly based in the UK LTB is a community of over 350 personal trainers, facility owners and education providers with a range of expertise and experience.

So what unifies us?

The desire to improve the fitness industry, and in doing so, helping to positively impact the lives of thousands of people.

 So how does it work?

 Let’s first look at the education.

  • An online webinar library allowing you to learn from industry leaders on a range of topics. This is constantly being updated.
  • Seminars in a range of subjects held around the UK in which our members get to learn from experts from both the UK and abroad.
  • Internship Days. Get first hand experience how our successful trainers work down at LTB HQ in Bath or Edinburgh.
  • Regular Technique Days – A chance to ask questions, make mistakes and apply the information you are learning, all in the comfort of a non judgemental environment. It’s ok not to know stuff!
  • Business Days – Helping our members to provide some structure when it comes to growing their business.
  • Bi-weekly Skype calls with some of our mentors (complete members only).

 

I have to be honest, as good as the education is, I honestly don’t think it’s the best part of LTB. Why? The community and the support it provides.

 Lets check out the support.

 

  • Community- To those who are not part of LTB this can often seem a little strange but the sense of community is HUGE. It is what makes LTB, LTB! From a little pick me up if you have had a bad day, to other coaches providing you with their time all in the name of helping. It’s the best group of hard working and moral people I can say I have been a part of. Our members hold regular met ups with each other all over the country (for both work and play) and once you are welcomed into LTB, you are one of our own, no ego’s, no ulterior motives, just a fantastic community of coaches trying to be better (and doing it with a smile on their faces and possibly one too many drinks at the social event J).
  • Members Facebook Group– Imagine being able to pick the brains of over 350 fellow trainers. Well that’s what happens everyday in our closed FB group. Anything from where to get new flooring for your gym to asking for advice on a client with stubborn body fat. The Facebook group really has become the hub of our LTB community.
  • Accountability Service – Sometimes there is just so much to do it can cause paralysis by analysis. We take some of the stress away by getting our members to prioritise their weekly tasks then hold them accountable to them.

 

So there you go, a little glimpse into our LTB community.

 

If you would like to know more please visit our website at Lift the Bar or visit us on Facebook at Lift The Bar: Education and Support for Personal Trainers.

Gregg.

12511778_10100191463150903_721692083_n

 

 

Sponsor Profile:Gas Technology Partnership Ltd

Gas Technology Partnership Ltd

As with many of my corporate sponsors Sarah has chosen to write about the why of getting involved in sponsoring myself for the Marathon des Sables.  Few of them have taken the opportunity to showcase their business.  BUT, I think the way they have written their profiles says alot about them as business owners and how they want you, potential clients, to see what they value.  I am delighted that these businesses have gotten involved, that they value mental health and, it always astounds me, but their belief in my abilities.  Anyway, enough rambling on my part, here is Sarah’s words:-

You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘why is a Specialist Gas Consultant sponsoring Louise for the MDS Event?’

Actually, there’s more common ground here than meets the eye. Read on…

 

Louise and I first met during the 2014 Spartan Sprint just south of Edinburgh. Well when I say we met, what I mean is we didn’t have a clue who each other was but I decided to embark on a silent competition between us during the 5k obstacle race. Ridiculous I know, I had no chance against Louise.

I went away always wondering who my nemesis was.

The 2nd time we met was at an OCR training day that Louise was coaching in Ayrshire last year. I remember smiling to myself when I saw her stomping around and I thought ‘at last I get to meet the wee powerhouse herself’. (Sarah is on the left, conquering the high wall at the muddyraces OCR training day at Scottish Assault Courses Ayrshire).

IMG_1808

I knew right away we’d get along like we’d known each other for years. Louise is passionate about her sports and her goals. That comes across right away. It’s an attractive trait and you can see that people really warm to her.

We’ve been in touch ever since with the conversation always about racing and our personal physical goals, including the inevitable ups and downs that this always entails, but Louise always sees the positive and she’s a total inspiration for me.

I was so excited to hear that Louise had been selected to take part in the Marathon des Sables – ‘The toughest footrace on Earth’. 5 ½ marathons in 5 or 6 days – across the Sahara Desert!

Without a 2nd thought I wanted to support her in this epic dream.

This is where the commonality is between Louise’s goal and my company – Gas Technology Partnership Ltd. My dream was to always run my own company. After years of being constantly let down by employers I decided ‘ENOUGH!’ I can do better for myself.

I knew what my goal was; I could see the end game. I just needed to make it happen. 2 and half years later and I’m now running a very successful business, in fact it’s surpassed even my own expectations.

It takes hard work, determination, tenacity, positivity – especially when things get tough – which they do. And you have to keep that end game clear in your head – never lose sight of what your goal is.

But I gotta say, you do need a strong support network behind you. For me it was my friends and family who simply just believed in me.

Louise has all those traits in abundance and I know she’ll achieve her goal and it’ll be the experience of a lifetime. I also know what it means to just need some support along the way. It feels like perfect Karma to be able to give something back to help Louise live her dream.

 

Good luck my friend!

So again, thank you to all who take the time to read these blogs, please pop over to Sarah’s website/ facebook page and give her a ‘like’ and share the love as they say.

Website:  www.gtp-gas.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/gastechnologypartnership/?fref=ts

 

 

Sponsor Profile: The Art of Communication

I feel incredibly honored to be sponsored by Cathy from  The Art of Communication  Cathy was in fact my first sponsor for this event – The Marathon des Sables – please do click on the link and visit/ catch up with her news on facebook.

 

11922984_1137254312955975_5494446885604626578_o

Here is Cathy’s take on the whole situation (with some pics I’d forgotten about) :

 

THE ART OF COMMUNICATION PROUDLY SUPPORTS LOUISE

 

‘My name is Cathy MacDonald and The Art of Communication is my business – a young, fresh and slightly unusual business I guess which helps people to improve their communication skills, understand human behaviour and positively influence those around them.  It is a light hearted but truly effective approach if good communication is important to the success or wellbeing of what you do.

 

While I would like to boast that the young and fresh description is just like me, that is probably stretching the truth in terms of years but when it comes to attitude, values and my frame of mind, it reflects my approach perfectly.  I have built my business on ethics and values so when you ask the question as to why am I am proudly supporting Louise my explanation sits so much with what I have just written.

 

Louise and I met around 5 years ago at Good Health and Fitness, an amazing gym with amazing trainers and it wasn’t long before we were discussing events.  I had just embarked on some adventure races and Louise was most definitely an adventure race type of trainer.  Should I say the rest is history? Perhaps.

We did an event together in an all girls team.  It was fun but not quite tough enough so we did another that claimed to be the worlds toughest forming part of a mixed team.  Months of training, months mentally preparing and months of logistical planning ……. Well, it was fun …. but not quite tough enough.

So here we are years later, the adventure races have toughened up and in fairness have left me in their wake but Louise has not only embraced the challenge they hold but faced it head on and has simply excelled.

 

When Louise announced that there was an opportunity for her to compete in Marathon Des Sables, my immediate reaction was of excitement and admiration. This really is a race that is ‘tough enough’ and I respect Louise and all that she will have to endure in preparation, during and after the race.

 

My thoughts of tough centre around the training and preparation while Louise’s thoughts of tough centre around finances, sponsorship and her charity  The personal responsibility to be resilient, strong and well prepared is something that Louise is taking in her stride – that is truly amazing.

 

I am sure The Art of Communication is not the normal type of business that people would expect to sponsor sports people, but in my mind ‘why not’.  Built on positivity, focus and strong ethics it seems a natural thing to do and I hope that Louise will be the first of many sportsmen and women i can support in future years.

 

Louise Johnstone, you are a strong and determined lady and The Art of Communication through me is proud to support you on this mammoth adventure.’

Thank you for your unwaivering support and confidence!  Moving closer and closer to raising much needed funds for local charity Dundee Association for Mental Health is becoming exciting but nevertheless holds much responsibility.  Responsibility I wish to fulfil to the best of my abilities.  If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please do contact me on louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk as soon as possible (early Janaury 2016) or to sponsor myself by donating to the charity please click on this justgiving link:

https://www.justgiving.com/Louise-Johnstone3/

 

Introducing my Sponsors: Stuart Aitken Fitness

I have been blown away by the generosity of Dundee’s small businesses in supporting me to reach the Marathon des Sables in order to raise money for local mental health charity , DAMH (Dundee Assocition for Mental Health).

As these become available to me, I will pop up small blogs where the businesses can highlight who they are and what they do, for example.  Please do pop over to thheir website and/ or facebook page.

First up is Stuart Aitken Fitness,  I have actually known Stuart for some time, we both attended Abertay University. I work alongside Stuart but also asked Stuart to help keep me honest with my own training a little while ago, yep even trainers need trainers, for my OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) so I am thrilled that Stuart has gotten involved in my new venture.

Stuarts take on the matter . . .

”When Louise asked me to be involved with her attempts to run the Marathon Des Sables (from now on this will be referred to as MDS), I could not have been happier. Louise is one of the most inspirational people I’ve encountered in the fitness industry. Through her consistent fundraising events, and community get-togethers she organises, she’s always been someone who I’ve enjoyed working alongside. This however, is a whole other ball game (which I know she knows!) so my reason for writing this is to let you in on some of the things I’ll be advising Louise with throughout her time in training for the MDS.

 

Training

Firstly we have to take into account her training. Now I won’t be involved with the running side, as this isn’t where I specialise or have enough knowledge to be of practical help, but I do have experience in helping athletes become stronger and faster from the weight room.

Louise is going to need a consistent weight-training plan, which may come as a surprise to some of you as she isn’t doing an event that requires lifting weights or being visually strong. This is a common myth with weight training, that it is only used to improve strength and muscle tone, it has so many more benefits to any individual who takes it up, especially endurance athletes who commonly miss it out for fear of getting to muscular.

The weight training Louise will be focussed upon doing will be mainly to ensure we give her current muscles a good reason to stick around. We know from plenty of research that a big muscle is a strong, more robust muscle. This means that doing weight training will help her stay injury free and keep her current muscle at a reasonable level, so she is still strong enough to endure what her body will go through during the MBS.

Although her primary focus will be upon getting the miles in and ensuring her body is ready from an endurance perspective, training in the gym will play a big role in providing her with the best platform to have an amazing race.

 

Nutrition

Nutrition is another thing that is quite often disregarded for endurance events, at least right up until the day before the event (carb-loading for example!).

This is going to be absolutely essential for Louise, as she will need to ensure her body recovers optimally every time she trains. Nutrition plays a huge role in this and ensuring she gets enough calories in to keep up the volume of training she’ll be doing, while also providing enough nutrients to keep her immune system in tact so she can keep on top of illnesses.

We’ll need to ensure she gets a good amount of calories into her body, which will have a large focus on getting plenty of protein (for muscle recovery and building) as well as carbohydrate (for fuel during her training bouts) and fat (so her hormonal profile stays at a high level).

 

Mindset

Lastly, and I think most importantly, we’ll need to ensure her mindset is excellent throughout the whole event, and leading up to it. I don’t think this will be something Louise will struggle with too much as she is already strong-willed, but the MDS is completely new animal, and one that will need preparation from her mind. We’ll need to ensure we’ve ran over possible problems that will arise, as well as getting her head into a position of belief and confidence with everything she does. It will also be important for her to visualise and put herself into positions she didn’t think her body could cope with as this will help through the toughest parts of the race.

Overall I really can’t wait to start seeing how Louise progresses through her training, and ultimately when she actually completes the MDS. I know she’ll set herself up right and raise an incredible amount of money for the Dundee Mental Health Association, and I can’t wait to be part of something as special as this.”

Thank you Stuart!  Here are the links to Stuart’s site:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StuartAitkenFitness

If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please do get in touch, I am still aiming to raise the final amount by early January.  My contact email is louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk.

Stuart Aitken Fitness

 

My biggest Challenge yet but I need YOUR help!

The last few days has been a whirlwind of activity as soon as I received an email that was giving me the possibility of a cancellation place in the MDS – Marathon des Sables . What a phenomenal opportunity to raise money for the local mental health charity I like to support – Dundee Association for Mental Health (DAMH).

The problem or shall we call it a challenge, is that, as it is a potential cancellation place, everything is all very last minute.  Including securing corporate sponsorship to pay the initial £2175, unbelieveably I am in the position to say all the fantastic businesses, the people driving these companies have gotten us to a place where I only need to raise just under £600 by approximately Tues/ Wed this week.  A big ask, not when you consider we have already raised the amount to get here since Thurs evening – when all hell broke loose hahaha.

I have been truly honoured to be supported and blown away by people wanting to get involved and support this.  I really think it shows the change in attitude toward mental health on a larger scale but also, something I always underestimate, peoples support and I guess faith in me to achieve what I set out to do!

Why is this important?

I am one of those who is not afraid to say I have had mental health issues, it doesn’t define me, it is not all that I am.  I think this is important to remember this, to remember that mental health is not selective, it doesn’t matter whether you are a fitness professional, a high-flying career woman/ man, a child or an elderly person.  The severity that anyone can be affected is variable and the diagnosis can be variable also.  We need to begin moving away from the idea that those who suffer from mental health difficulties are a certain type of person (yes there are risk-factors but this is not  a definitive) or have a specific job/ background.  1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem!  A family member, a work colleague, a friend, we all know someone.

I want to help DAMH to help meet the needs of there service users,they use physical activity based groups, greenbuds, relaxation periods.  A variety of support is available for their service users, I volunteer and run a ‘Lifestyle with Louise’ where service users can book in to see me and we discuss what can help improve their health and how to go about this.  This is no longer about me, this is about what i can do to help raise the profile of a fantastic local charity and raising funds to help them do this.

Taking on my biggest challenge to date to raise sponsorship funds for this fantastic charity is something I relish, being driven forward with each step, to keep going with the training and the actual race with the belief and support of others makes the decisions easy.

Sponsors:

Once again a huge thank you to those already invested:

Art of Communication – Catherine MacDonald – She has set up this fantastic new business which is transforming her clients interactions with others.

Stuart Aitken Fitness – Stuart has been fantastic at helping me to stay accountable and focused in my gym based training when I often become distracted!

Lift the Bar – These guys are simply amazing!!  A company/ group run by Chris Burgess, a personal training education and mentoring.  Leading the way in personal trainer development!  If you are in the fitness industry please head over and check them out, you will not regret it.

Sole Body Sole – Bharti runs this company, looking after all your foot problems – I have a feeling I will need alot, alot of care of my feet when I get back from this race next year!  Have you seen the pictures????

Gas Technology Partnership Ltd – This company is run independently by Sarah Bridge!

If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please get in touch as soon as possible – my email address is louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk

Mudnificent 7! 

11798192_10205227841323702_1982640724_n11844287_10205227854644035_1742913996_n

(I am holding the mother of all Lincolnshire hot dogs in my outstretched hand – earned!)

Mudnificent 7 truly took its name to heart, Ive spent the whole of Sunday scrubbing to get muck out of every orifice you can think of (aye all of them!).   This was a fantastic first event by the squad from Obstacle Race Magazine, I was there from Friday and could see the village begin to take shape.

The start line was full of energy for the first heat, a great practical warm-up and then some great words by THE Mr Mouse to get us off.  The start was a brief run around the edge of the lake and into a field to spread out the runners, this probably could have been a little longer and that would have been sufficient to reduce the queuing we had, even in the first heat.

Stand-out  Zones and the Disappointments:

Each of the 7 zones was hosted by a different race company,

Mudstacle 6Zone 1 – Aztec Warrior:  Great ideas but alot of bottlenecks, there was certainly a controversial obstacle with a chamber filled on one side with ‘offal’ and the other was with potatoes.  I luckily chose the vegetarian option, I have to admit to a few gagging moments at the other side as it was all crushed under numerous trail shoes.

Zone 2 – Airfield Anarchy:  Without doubt!  The MAHOOSIVE slide where I may have wet my pants before I even got wet . . .

kidding, kidding!  But not about keeking myself.  There was a decent queue to get on here but well worth it for the WOW factor, the safety brief was repeated consistently, clear and concise.  We had a delay after a lady had a bit of a freak-out at the top but well done to her she did it with true OCR support.  I understood why11845950_10205227854324027_1180950125_n when I got to the top – ‘Holy S**T!’ it was a vertical drop and I can tell you my ass didnt make contact until the slide curved and then you were flipped off the end in true style.  I swear I was breathless from this obstacle for the next mile, we hit some more bottlenecks where there was tunnels with only single person access.

Great ideas but not ideal with the numbers and so early on in the race.  We also hit some water dips here, some lovely gentleman kindly gave me a help11801957_10205227850523932_1734497196_ning hand – did I mention already I hate water?!

Zone 3 – Tough Guy – I was looking forward to how this would run,  I know Alex ( Brass Monkey Events ) put alot of effort into setting up  the Tough Guy section.  It’ll hopefully have let everyone see what we will have in store for you all coming north to the brand new McTough Guy event!

Anyway, there were great balance beam sections taking you into the main section, those at Mud 7 were priviledged to get a taster of carrying the ‘Jesus Crosses’, only a select few have done so within the Tough Guy events ( I Iook upon these guys in awe!).  There was some decent running between the osbtacles which spread folks out, they highlighted TG obstacles perfectly, they were simply but truly effective.  There were cargo net crawls, ‘torture chamber’ (classic), water dips (another classic – I also think Alex was winding me up as he had said it was fairly deep – actually not too bad).  Mudstacle 5This was one of my biggies as it was for Airfield anarchy11830649_10205227846283826_1368400782_n – did I say I hate water?  But Empo and Marnie were on hand to give me encouragement, I think thats what it was 😉  Not only this but the Ghost Runner squad were on hand to beat their drums and they did so allll day!!

Zone 4 – Bigfoot Challenge – These guys made great use of rope obstacles, different obstacles that I had seen in other events but never so focused, which I quite liked.  We had lateral traverses between trees, more traditional hanging traverses created in a V-shape.  Mudstacle 4

Mudstacle 7

Zone 5 – Ram Run – Im afraid to say nothing really stuck out for me here

Zone 6 – Reacher Events – I thoroughly enjoyed this section, these guys took mud to a whole new level, some really original obstacles (well at least ones I have never seen).  Another slide but with a different approach, using climbing wall parts, and smaller but you know what?  It didnt matter!  Mudstacle 9Low cargo net crawls, A-frame climbs with increased difficulty created by wet and super muddy shoes/ bodies, followed by a fling yourself at a cargo net climb.  I have to say the marshalls here were great and really interactive, one young lady let me wipe my eyes on her high-vis – I didnt need to see anyway haha! And then I found another gentleman with a Reaper T-shirt that was waaay too clean so I helped him feel a part of the mud-fest.  Not only that, one of the greMudstacle 8at marshalls also wanted a hug so naturally I had to oblige, hahaha!

Zone 7 – Bear Grylls – I have to say, once again, nothing here stuck out for me, it struck me as very spartan and nothing 11846423_10205227843363753_379773188_noriginal which I would have expected from the big deal being made about Bear Grylls.  Particularly at an expo which is to showcase what a course has to offer.  However, the final section of their zone challenged me big time – the water crossingS, yes bloody plural!    The first one I could bob along on tippy-toes, just keeping my head out of the water, talking to myself all the way, ‘Its alright Louise, just keep moving Louise, Its okay you’re nearly there’.  I think the guys on the boats could here me as they just kept smiling at me encouragingly, you have not idea how close I was to tears. I really just don’t get why I freak out so much when I can actually swim.  Onto the middle island, under a cargo net and then straight into the water.

Oh God!  Oh God – I couldnt bob on this one!  Oh God, even typing this my heart rate has gone up several notches!!  Again, there were nearly tears, only this time they were so much closer to erupting but I sucked it up and told myself I would be okay and started toMudstacle 2 swim.  Then along came Lisa (from RPCC – based in England for those that dont know the team), what a lovely lass.  We had met earlier in the race and I had the opportunity to help Lisa over the walls and I kept encouraging her as we headed toward the water.  I’m glad I was able to do so, as I really feel like I haven’t been able to repay her support over the second crossing but at least I feel I helped her alittle in return.  She offered to stay with me, as Lisa could swim and was really very relaxed.  She told me to remember to relax, it worked a treat as I had obviously started to tense up alot without realising it.  I was getting really breathless, I think because I was real tense, we paused so that I could chill out alittle and then we headed for the finish line and crossed together – amazing!  I can’t thank you enough Lisa!Mudstacle 1

Summary

This was a fantastic event and what a great way for the OCR community to come together without competition but support of each others races to work together to provide the ultimate of experiences for the participants.  I loved every second, well nearly – when I wasnt peeing my pants!  But, having been asked a few times what my favourite bits were, I couldn’t say categorically that I had one but all of it in combination.  The chance to do the best obstacles that each event had, to experience potentially what you could experience at each race.  I get that people were disappointed with the queues and bottle necks, yes disapointing and yes not what we want at a race BUT this was not a race and not an ordinary get together at an event.  All the event providers really worked hard to put the best they could out there for all of us, no racing just taking part and supporting each other.  I met some truly awesome people, witnessed truly inspirational acts and was able to support others, nearly losing my heid helping a baywatch beauty (Ill leave that one to the imagination and I dont mean a falling out), seeing far too much exposed (sorry Pamela, the baywatch dude, but what I witnessed on those ropes really will never be erased!) but also being helped to really face my fears and helping others while doing so.  That is the true essence of the OCR community!

Couple of drawbacks as mentioned were the bottlenecks (it was constantly mentioned this was not a race on the tannoy), using timing chips creates some perception of wanting the best time possible and therefore people want to move through obstacles as quickly as possible.  The posting of results also creates the impression that there was positions which there cant be if it was participation event.  The results themselves dont mean much except for the first handful of people due to the bottlenecks and folks constantly skipping obstacles/ queues.  These are basic points which didn’t detract from the event itself for me, simply points to keep in mind.  I quickly cooled my heels once I realised this wasnt going to be a typical race and really didnt push hard but challenged myself but conquering all obstacles and thoroughly enjoying myself!

Definitely get it onto your fun – to-do list for #MUD2016!  Get your mates along with you!        11846334_10205227842483731_1083406700_n