I hate critics and cynics. A recent quote struck a chord with me: “No one ever erected a statue to a critic”. Quite true I thought. Running and exercise is as much about changing your mindset as it is about getting fit and shedding the pounds around your waistline. It’s about positivity and congratulations, rather than criticism and barbed comments.
I hate critics because they rarely can do any better, and to be honest there’s enough negativity in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should adopt the American ‘all is swell’ attitude, but I pretty much don’t buy newspapers anymore as all the negativity just brings me down. Us in Blighty are the best in putting ourselves down and slagging things off. When the News of the World was finally consigned to the scrap heap I did a little jig. I don’t even think it was good enough to wrap fish and chips in. I hated it.
So I feel in mixed emotions about blogging a critical review of the recent mud run from this weekend. A bad day doing a mud run is better than a good day in the office, right? Well, yes. But I felt let down. Miffed.
I’ve been slack on the mud runs, the adventure races, the weekend warrior trail trots so I had been looking forward to this one for a good few months. It’s usually at least one of these a month, but I’ve not put myself through the mill for too long.
So The Demon Run (5 and 10 mile courses) came just at the right time to give me a training boost just when the summer is supposed to be upon us. Organised by Warrior Events, The Demon Run was held in the glorious expanse of the Swinley Forest on the M3 just near Bracknell. A glorious part of South East England (the forest that is!). The weather was fine, thankfully, and the field was small enough to make this an intimate race.
All the ingredients were correct: reasonable hour on Sunday morning, glorious countryside, small field, tried and tested race location. The race was supposed to start at 10am but a few issues held this back until nigh on 11am (thank cripes for the good weather!). It needed to run to plan after that initial frustration, for sure.
But how the organisers could put us totally on the wrong track within a mile of the start is beyond me! The field of 80 or so dashed off, followed the first few signposts and then…..nothing! The pack stopped, threw their hands and arms in the air at an intersection and looked for signposts and inspiration. Nothing. It was like a scene from Whacky Races with people milling and peeling off everywhere. Cue pandemonium!
After about 10 minutes of ‘guess the race route’ we eventually happened across a helpful sign and we were on track again. On piste, not off piste.
The race was over as an event, but we charged on looking for fun and excitement. To be fair to them, they delivered this in spades with muddy shimmies under low cargo nets and through tunnels. Wading through waist deep mud and bog is hilarious (if you like that thing!), and in my 30’s I find stuff like this no less funny. I guess it’s the kid in us. The 5 mile race had set off 5 minutes behind us in the 10 mile race, but the tracks were converged at the end and further carnage ensued. People were shooting onto the path from what seemed like all over the forest. More scenes from Whacky Races. The site of totally lost racers finishing off running through the car park about 100 metres from the true path was pretty amusing, but paying the best part of £30 for the pleasure of such a balls up was less than amusing.
The result? Well, after all the wayward markings and such, this is largely immaterial. A top 10 finish for myself was pleasing, but I feel like Stuart Broad scoring a century against Pakistan at Lords only to find out 2 of the bowlers had been bribed. It looks good, but it doesn’t quite count! On the plus side (must always pull the positives from these things!), I gave my Inov8 Roclites a bloody good work out and they didn’t let me down. I must have dropped over a 1000 calories and worked up a gargantuan hunger that I didn’t feel guilty for replenishing!
Come on guys. Sort it out. This run has the makings of being a classic. Just don’t let your punters play guess the route.!