The original Oblivion was due to take place in April but due to extreme weather conditions, organisers made the tough but correct decision to cancel the race, the result, MudRunner Oblivion: The Dirty Weekend was born.
The guessing games now began, who would be doing what day? Would Matt be doing Saturday? James, Sunday? Or both? Emails were flying around trying to establish who was doing what. Questions we would find the answers too on Saturday at 5pm.
The start had been altered this year from last, we were to immediately descend and cross a foot bridge between the lakes before our ascent of the obelisk. I stood alongside Matt James, Mike Link, Luke James, Barry from Ledbury Harriers and another guy (not sure of his name, sorry!) who had beaten Matt and I in the October Classic race. With the race under way the usual jostling for positions took place, Matt and I climbed the Obelisk together in 3rd and 4th place. I turned back to see a mass of runners in pursuit of us, it was a great sight and feeling to be at front.
As the race progressed and course took us further into the woods and along the mud filled tracks, we continued to climb, Matt had pulled away from me at this point and went off into the distance closing down rapidly on the leaders. I passed 4th place just before the drinks station and began my pursuit of 3rd. Through cargo nets, log crossings, swamps, the MudRunner obstacles threw everything at us to break us down and interrupt our natural stride. I had just passed obstacle 8, and was welcome for a nice downhill stretch, I hugged the right of the path, head down and lengthened my stride determined that I could finish 3rd. A sinking feeling soon entered my head, the path I was now on led me back to start of obstacle 7. I had taken a wrong turn. I sprinted back up where I had descended so quickly, at least 3/4 mile, only to encounter at least another 15 runners who had taken the same route as me. I was fuming and reluctanto accept what had happened. Together we tackled obstacle 7 and 8 for a second time, before getting back on the correct trails. When reviewing my Garmin at the finish, I had run 2 miles extra, I finished in a demoralising 118th out of 1200, 30 minutes behind the day’s winner, Matt James.
It was hard to take, but I had to accept what had happened and move on. I knew there would be a chance to redeem myself on Sunday.
At the finish I met a friend of mine, Matt Green. The MudRunner course is undoubtedly one of the toughest courses around, but imagine running the route with a respirator (Gas Mask) on. This is what Matt Green does. Not only does a respirator induce the onset of oxygen debt quicker but there’s an obvious problem with breathing and therefore pace upon the hills. Matt is a member of Team Venom, who compete in events raising money for ABF The Soldiers Charity. Check out Matt’s blog here: http://www.everywherewithoutdelay.com/
Speaking with Mike and Luke on Day 2 of Oblivion we were all a little unsure of how we would perform after racing hard the previous day. Matt had ditched the respirator today and at the bottom the 400ft climb to the obelisk, it was just the two of us. Still frustrated about the events the day before, I pushed on and climbed alone leading the race. Today I did not look back, if anything I dug deeper. Was my first mile quicker than Saturday’s first mile? You bet it was!!
At the steep log climb, I had been caught and passed by the guy in 2nd. I hit the descent hard and regained the lead. I was still ahead coming up to obstacle 7. 2nd place now had me in his sights and closed the gap, we went neck and neck into number 8, he duck and dived his way through the maze of rope stretched across our path and edged the lead. He pulled away, he was climbing well, really well, I tried to follow his footsteps through the mud. Bearing in mind 1200 people had been through the course the day before, the mud was unreal. The mud swallowed your foot with each step, only a huge effort would enable you to release it only for you to plunge your foot back in the sticky stuff on your next stride. I was lost time on the now leader, but I didn’t worry, I knew 3rd, 4th ect were minutes behind. The trees became more sparse and soon we were back in the deer park, I jumped the fence and prepared myself for the infamous monkey bars.
I failed the bars for a second time, and took the punishment of crawling through a cargo net and having Junior MudRunners pelt sponges at me! I managed a smile…as I threw one back! I could see the leader in front of me, he was just exiting the first lake crossing as I was approaching it. I pulled myself through and tackled the steep bank, with use of the rope available. On Saturday I hadn’t needed the rope, I had been fuelled by andreline. I pulled myself over the fence without too much difficulty and through the second lake and began my last ascent of the weekend to the finish as 1st had just crossed the line to take 2nd.
Mike Link finished a couple of minutes later taking 4th, adding to his 4th the day before. Mike looks set to have won the whole weekend, which is well deserved the way he is improving. Luke also did well taking 6th (Sunday) and 6/7th on Saturday. Matt G, finished 5th, taking 10 mins of his time with his respirator on. Well done to all, although admittedly its hard for me to think what might have been had I not gone wrong Saturday.
Without question I will be there in October for the Classic.