Vegan delights, running late and too much cake

This weekend was both super busy and super chilled. A good mixture I think!

On Friday night I stayed at my parent’s house as I’d planned on running to Lee-On-Solent parkrun the next day in order to kill two birds with one stone. I haven’t done parkrun since before Austria because of my injury, but I wanted to get back to it. Equally I wanted a long run and as I’ve been playing it super safe only running three times so this meant combining the two on Saturday as I’d already run Tuesday and Thursday. Lee-On-Solent parkrun isn’t very far from my parents so was a safe distance to add on before the 5k.

I was feeling quite tired so decided that I wouldn’t set my alarm too early. 7.30am seemed about right. As long as I was running no later than 8.10am that would give me a good amount of time to run 5 miles and have a bit of a buffer just before parkrun. For reasons beyond comprehension, when I’d planned my run I hadn’t really spotted that it was longer than 5 miles to get to the actual starting area of parkrun. And, as always, I wasted a bit of time in the morning faffing around… meaning by 8.15am I was still trying to locate satellites and not having much luck.

But, ever the positive and optimistic, I set off without a care in the world at 8.20am. The run felt good and I zoned out listening to a podcast as I plodded along. Funnily enough one of my non-running friends said they saw me running and got confused why I was running in the opposite direction to the Lee parkrun. They didn’t understand why I didn’t just run directly there. I had to explain about trying to get the extra miles. They didn’t quite get it. Non-runners, eh 😉

As I was running a route I often do when I run a long run from my parent’s house I know how many miles roughly there was to go until I got towards the Lee-On-Solent area. I realised I’d made a mistake somewhere in my planning. It was now closing in on 8.45am and I still had about three miles to go. I sped up a bit. As I was running along the coast I could see in the distance where the parkrun would begin. I was still so far away!As it got to 9am I was about 0.5 miles away and started passing some of the marshals. As I legged it past I shouted “Don’t think I’m going to make it!” and they laughed and said I better hurry up. I was somewhat banking on there being lots of messages at the start to delay it a bit but it seemed unlikely to be delayed so much after 9am. When I got to the start area of course they had already gone as it was now almost 9.10am. I ran past my friend Rebecca, who was marshalling and celebrating reaching 100 times volunteering (!), and she laughed at my lateness. I debated not doing it and just supporting and then getting my extra miles by running home (which would be about three miles) but I could see the runners ahead and decided just to try and catch up as much as I could and have a slower time.By this point I’d been running a lot faster than I intended so attempted to slow down a bit. I was now at parkrun so could chill. It was a shame to be late because my friend Ben was going to run with me at parkrun. I saw him fly past me in the other direction as he’d reached the turnaround point ages ago. I shouted I was late and he laughed at me (a theme for this run). Though it was quite a satisfying run because I could pick so many people off and feel like I was really gaining on the field. I wondered idly how many miles it would take to catch up with people running similar speeds to me… more than parkrun I thought. In fact the maths of it confused me a little – could I ever catch up to people running at my speed? No, I’d need to run faster wouldn’t I? The random thoughts of a runner…Anyway, as Ben had finished a lot before me he came back for me and ran the last 0.5 mile with me. I was pretty puffed by this point as I was still running faster than planned. I was still feeling a bit stressed about the whole thing! It was nice though to feel a bit of speed in my legs and I tried not to dwell on how much I’d lost since getting injured. Such is life! I finished, on my watch, 23:26 which isn’t too shabby at all given the time off I’ve had (my actual time was 30:18 tho). And a total of 9.6 miles. I was tempted to run it up to 10 but by that point I was done. I chatted with Ben (he’s working his way up to 50 marathons!) and Rebecca. She’s such a lovely, lovely person and it’s such an incredible achievement to have volunteered so many times.She seemed to be under the impression that it might seem a bit “sad” but I fully disagreed with her. It’s a fantastic thing to do and she should be really proud of herself. Volunteering is so important in the parkrun world (and life in general). You could equally call runners “sad” for running so many of them too. So enough of that nonsense Rebecca!

As I headed off I noticed a vegan burger van and had to get a photo as it looked very quirky and I’d never seen one before – also selling churros randomly. I tried to discreetly take a photo but one of the vegan runners who was stood next to it spotted me and did a great pose. It was very amusing!My parents helpfully picked me up and then I had to race to get ready as I was meeting Andy for lunch and time was a’ticking! He picked me up with his parent’s adorable Cavalier, Tilly (the same black and white colouring as my parent’s dog Dylan). Tilly is very sweet and well behaved. And luckily the place we were going for food allowed dogs inside. To balance out our recent burger exploits, we decided to go to Off Beet in Wickham, which is a fully vegan cafe/restaurant. And honestly if you’re in the area and like good food – even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan – you must go there. The food is INCREDIBLE. It’s so reasonably priced (£9-12 for a main meal), sustainably conscious and amazingly inventive with their ever-changing menu. I’ve been there before with the lovely April so I knew I was in for a treat.

Tilly chilled out (though was ever aware of any food that would come her way by ‘accident’ under the table) as we debated back and forth of what to get… it all sounded so good! In the end Andy went for tacos (with harissa charred cauliflower and blackbeans on handmade gluten-free tacos).And I went for the Thai Green curry and tofu-fried rice. We also got some polenta chips…just because!It was so tasty. Now though I know I always seem to be eating ridiculously amounts of meat, I’m a food lover in general and can appreciate good food, regardless of whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or whatever. If it tastes good, I’ll eat it. I’m always happy to try different foods and give things a go. Yes I love meat but I’m happy to not eat it if the dish is good enough without. And it was DELICIOUS. And very filling. Well, not too filling… there was still room for pudding.

There are so many different kinds of vegan cakes we were really spoilt for choice. When Andy went to the till to order I’d told him if the one slice of brownie cheesecake was still there I would have that otherwise a peanut butter-based cheesecake. Well, he came back with three options! Definitely the best decision right there.

We shared (yes I know, I SHARED. Can you even imagine?) the three pieces. They weren’t overwhelming sweet like regular cake but they were very tasty (no refined sugars and all that jazz). They had interesting textures from the crushed nuts and creamy bits. I can’t really tell you what we had… one was probably chocolate chip banana bread, one was Nutella based and the cheesecake looking one was the peanut butter. My favourite was last one I think. But it was a tough call!

After filling our boots, we headed out for a walk down the bridal path of Wickham. It was a lovely day and a lovely walk. Tilly was pooped by the end!

That evening I had my friend’s 30th birthday party BBQ to go to (well, my married couple friends were both celebrating their 30th if that makes sense). By this point enough time had passed and I was hungry again. There was a fantastic spread of food and I loaded up a plate of vol au vents, pulled pork (winner right there), sausages and salad. Later I also had a burger and more pork. I guess I kind of undid all the good vegan work I did earlier I’m afraid!

Then trifle and chocolate cheesecake appeared… Well the BBQ went on well into the evening so a lot of this food was spread over a good amount of time. And of course I had to have some of this AMAZING unicorn cake. Some of it was coffee-flavoured (not my favourite admittedly) and rainbow sprinkles ‘flavour’. It was incredible. I felt well and truly pudding’ed out by this point!The BBQ was such good fun with my friends. Lots of games, banter and chilling out. A perfect end to a great Saturday.

Sunday saw a gym visit, chores and finally some relaxing! Whew.

How was your weekend?

If you’re not a vegan, would you ever eat at a vegan restaurant?

Have you ever been late to a parkrun?

My favourite B’s – brownie and BBQ in Bristol

This weekend was my annual uni friends BBQ. We’ve been doing this for 11 years now, which just blows my mind.

It hasn’t always been a BBQ (one time we did a picnic in a park, though I didn’t listen properly and still brought raw food much to everyone’s amusement. Another Anna Stupid Moment), but invariable it is. The weather is usually always good, but annoyingly this year it rained. Ah well, can’t win ’em all.

I drove to Bristol on the Friday evening. It also happened to be the worst time to drive anywhere because there were so many family’s who’s kids had just finished for the year and were off on holiday. So my hour 40 minutes drive turned into 2.5 hours. Joy!

The evening was lovely. We had burritos (steak and chicken). Then followed by our amazing brownie.We’ve been making this brownie since our university days. It’s basically our way of throwing out the rule book and eating pudding exactly how we want (i.e. being a bit piggy and greedy). Straight out of the oven, with a spoon. I blogged the recipe before if you’re interested… this time we added lots of white chocolate and a KitKat Chunky. The KitKat didn’t really work, but it was still AMAZING.

I promptly went into a food coma. We then watched Naked Attraction (if you’ve never seen this programme it’s hilarious but also unbelievably cringey; people choosing dates based entirely on their naked bodies). There was actually a really sweet couple who got together and are still together post-show. Normally they never really work out but this was really cute how well they got on and liked each other. Ah romance 😉 It was a full-on rock and roll evening clearly!

Normally Saturday morning Kate, Jamie and I would go to one of the Bristolian parkruns but as I’m still  injured and Kate and Jay haven’t been running much we decided to have a lie-in instead. I did attempt a little run to see how the knee felt but it still pulled so I turned back after half a mile. Frustrating. Instead I walked to Starbucks with one of the others, Charlotte, and we enjoyed the nice weather (which was soon to turn) and a good old natter.

Then our other friend’s arrived with their newborn baby and the BBQ could commence! It was WEIRD seeing my friend with a baby. She’s the first in the group to have had one and it was just bizarre. She’s a proper grown-up now! The baby, Eloise, was very cute (that’s all you’ll get from me on babies). It didn’t change the dynamic of the group at all, which was nice. Eloise just slotted it like the new addition she is. Though babies do, in general, terrify me.I just don’t know what to do with them or how to speak to them… I held her once and then quickly gave her back. Whew. We survived. It was great hearing all the gory details of the birth though. You do need a close friend to tell you the truth about these things I think. Like I said, terrifying.

Then Jamie got ready with the BBQ. Check out the bag of meat!So. Much. Food. This is why I love going to Bristol. They feed me so well 😉There was a selection of chicken thighs and drumsticks, peppered steaks, lamb ribs, pork ribs, pork belly, sausages and burgers. Pretty damn good!Though the weather wasn’t great it was still a fun BBQ. We ate inside around the table which was nice, so we could all easily chat. And they no longer laugh at me when I take photos of food 😉

Obviously I ate too much, but what’s new? We followed the BBQ with Victoria sponge and salted caramel cake (it was recently Shell and Charlotte’s birthday – yes I had a slice of both…and maybe another later) and then BBQ bananas with chocolate sauce. YES.I’m not a huge banana fan but this was really tasty. The banana had gone all gooey and sticky and the chocolate sauce melted into it. SO good. Just slice a line into a banana, roll it up with foil and pop it onto the coals for 15 minutes).

I went home later that day very happy. I mean, ridiculously full but very happy.

The next morning…ah how I’d loved to have joined my friend Mike in his 20 mile run (I’m trying not to panic, trying not to panic) and instead went to the gym where I did 65 minutes on the cross-trainer at a quick clip. I was a sweaty mess by the end and somewhat satisfied with my workout. But not as happy as I’d have been having just done 20 miles! But hey ho, it is what it is.

I’ve found the perfect way to keep entertained on the elliptical machine; watching YouTube and films. I watched To The Bone on Netflix which was interesting. I’d heard about this through the Blogosphere and also on a film podcast. It’s about eating disorders, which isn’t an entirely fun subject but it was actually really good in a weird way. An interesting take on the subject and I thought Keanu Reeves in it was really good. The main female did annoy me a bit but I don’t think she was meant to be entirely likeable. I thought it addressed the issues well but it’d be interesting hearing from someone with more experience on the matter.

Anyway, it’d be nice to run again. My knee does seem much better so it’s frustrating that when it comes to running this isn’t translated. It feels fine in every other aspect but running. So who knows. Cross training is the way forward right now!

How was your weekend?

Do you have any annual traditions with your friends?

Have you watched To The Bone?

MarathonTalk Austria Run Camp – part 1

Marathon Talk Austria Run Camp… well what do I say? Having been on three Sandy Balls Run Camps previously I knew as soon as I got the email invite this was a trip for me.

Described as a sort of ‘tester trip’ to see if the camp would work next year as an official MarathonTalk run camp, 14 of us headed out to Austria to joining Martin Yelling and a lovely guy called Rob to Rob’s luxury villa in the middle of nowhere somewhere outside of Vienna to run, chill and just have a good time. Martin, for those who don’t know, is one half of the running podcast MarathonTalk (if you don’t listen, do you even run?). He’s also married to the super fast Olympic elite runner, Liz Yelling. He’s not too shabby a runner himself either 😉It wasn’t a training camp per se, of which I was happy about as I prefer a more relaxed environment for these sorts things. It was very much similar to the previous Run Camps where you could run as much or as little as you’d like. More like a meeting of like-minded people in a beautiful setting with a bit of running thrown in.

The week started with my running club friend, Michelle, and I being picked up by Martin at a motorway services on route to the airport (he was coming from Bournemouth and handily Michelle knew one of the other guys going on the trip who was also being driven by Martin so we were able to blag a lift as well). At the airport we met up with more of the run campers and had breakfast.Standard procedure for me pre-holiday! Especially when you don’t know when you’re next going to eat. Go big or go home.

It was nice to actually meeting Martin properly. At Sandy Balls there are over 100 people and you don’t really chat to him or Tom Williams (the other podcaster). Martin’s a lovely guy – very relaxed and fun. Pretty much like he is on the podcast, but with fewer censors 😉 All the other run campers seemed very nice too and straight away I felt relaxed and happy. It was going to be a good week.We arrived at the villa to find a table spread with Prosecco, beer, soft drinks, water and fruit and had a bit of a refreshment before being shown our rooms.

Now when they described the villa as luxury they weren’t joking. It used to be a hunting lodge owned by a rather posh Austrian toff back in the day. Lots of wood panelling, fur rugs, antique furniture and deer antlers hanging from the walls (and a pinball machine because obviously…). There were three floors and each floor offered a different style of room. Some rooms had their own ensuite and some shared bathrooms between a couple of rooms. I was lucky to have a room with its own bathroom, though to be honest it wouldn’t have been a hardship to have shared. After the Sandy Balls Run Camp anything is an upgrade! 😉After dumping our stuff, it was time to stretch the legs out and have a little run around the beautiful lake just a stone throws away. The loop around the lake was 2.5k and for the first two loops we stuck together as a group, chatting and basically just gawping at the incredible scenery. The third lap Michelle and another run camper, Stuart, peeled off ahead. Michelle and Stuart are fast runners so I got caught up with their speedy pace while we were chatting!It was a fantastic group of people and amazingly we all just got on straight away. The common link of loving running obviously helped this, but despite all being different ages, with different backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences we just meshed. Of course I knew Michelle, and I also knew three of the others from previous Sandy Balls Run Camps but even with those who I didn’t know I found I could relax and easily chat to straight away.There was a good mix of people and downtime often involved meandering conversations and debates regarding interesting topics such as social media, minimalist living, favourite foods and hot pants (I’m not even joking).Dinner was prepared for us by the lovely staff (they did a fantastic job of taking care of us for the week – even providing us with a seemingly never ending Milka and Haribo supply). We all sat on a long table together for meals and it made for a very social and open environment.On the first night I did get somewhat confused and thought we were only getting soup and had a mild panic, only to relax when I realised a main course of fish and apple strudel pudding would be coming too. Whew. I was very well fed in the camp!

The next morning we met for breakfast (a continental affair) and prepared for the first proper run. This was to be a longish run following a route Martin and Rob had rec’ed for us on a previous trip. The plan was to stick together as a group and stop for a coffee halfway at lovely Austrian village before heading back.We were all of mixed abilities, from the super speedy Michelle (~18 min 5k PB) to the less cheetah tendencies. But despite this we stuck together, regrouping often, admiring the views and having impromptu photo shoots 😉The run was fantastic. We stopped halfway in Annaberg (my hometown) for a quick refreshment (Diet Coke and an ice lolly for me) before continuing our loop back to the villa. 14 miles in total. The day was ridiculously hot and after the run the obvious thing to do was jump in the lake. It was chilly but once you were in it was perfection.Lunch was hoovered up at rocket speed, the run having taken three hours! All that stopping, all those photos… I mean it was impossible to just run and not gawp. The terrain has been mixed; road, track, off-road, hills, declines… a bit of everything.

It’s certainly hard to say for sure but I think this was my favourite run… but it’s a close call.
That evening we ate al fresco with a BBQ of recently hunted local venison. Not being much of a drinker normally I found myself enjoying a cold Austrian beer each night. And pudding of course!Tuesday a few of us woke up early to get in a quick lake swim before breakfast. I’m not actually that keen a swimmer ordinarily but I love swimming in fresh water (but not arctic British dodgy lakes). I mean, it was pretty chilly I won’t lie but it didn’t half wake us up.After breakfast it was hard start with running uphill. I found this run quite tough and challenging. I let the demons in when I felt myself slacking behind the faster group but it was a good motivation to keep pushing. The risk of being left behind was never a reality as the other slightly slower group were behind me with Rob and Martin. Some of the second group preferred to do more walking, and this was fine. There were no judgements, no leaving people on their own. You felt very safe and un-pressured on the runs to go at your own pace and distance.Again, lots of stopping and taking photos. It wasn’t like the runs were non-stop. Though that terrain was challenging, it was never insurmountable, whatever your ability. The faster runners like Michelle and Stuart would run further ahead and then turn back to collect back with us. Everyone could get out from the run what they wanted.We ran through some gorgeous scenery and eventually reached the top part of the run. There was a chair lift option but a few of us decided to walk (or run!!) to the top. It was almost two miles and when I say uphill I mean some serious uphill.We arrived at a lovely little cafe right at the top where there was a beautiful tower you could climb up.After a quick refreshment, it was time for some fun downhill running all the way to the town, Mariazell, at the bottom.As always, the views were amazing and it was fun to stretch the legs out after such a punishing climb to the top.

We reached a beautiful view just before entering the town and the bells of the basilica were ringing, seemingly welcoming are arrival. All very magical.This required a celebratory ice cream and Diet Coke of course!

When we arrived back at the villa of course another lake swim was in order. One of the run campers, the lovely Becci, brought her GoPro so we had some fun lake pics. Such a great way to finish a run. I need to find me a lake…

And that will finish part one. Honestly it’s so hard whittling this down as there’s so much to say. I wish I could literally tell you everything but I’ll be getting to sound a bit like, “this one time, in Run Camp”… But anyway, part two to follow eventually!

Have you ever been to Austria?

Do holiday training camps appeal to you?

Do you swim much?

Whiteley parkrun and a big breakfast

So this weekend was quite the busy one! Lots of running, eating and sleeping. Though I could have done with a lot more sleep it must be said.

Saturday started off with a 6am alarm and me getting out for a solo three miles. I was meeting my friend Mike to run to Whiteley parkrun at 7.15am but I wanted to get a few more miles because my next few weeks are a bit all over the place and I’m not sure when I’ll get a decent long run in. I did 15 miles last weekend so the plan was to get 16 miles in total.My three miles went by without a hitch and probably a bit faster than I was planning. I never give myself enough time for anything (incidentally, I’m writing this on the train up to London today and I had to run the last bit to catch it on time, case and point). I basically leave no wiggle room for if things go wrong. So the last mile I started panicking I’d be late and sped up a bit.Happily I got to Mike just on time and we started our run. Mike had thankfully provided the route (another thing I’m not great at…navigation). We aimed to go a bit faster than his planned marathon pace and the miles flew by as we put the world to right talking about dating, work and life in general. I enjoy running with Mike as he’s such a good friend and he’s always willing to listen to my randomness. These runs are like therapy sometimes!The last mile or so of the run was uphill and I was feeling fairly tired by this point. It was a struggle. However the final stretch was a lovely downhill. We arrived at Whiteley though with enough time for a quick loo visit and a chat with our friend, Geoff, who’s recently moved from Netley to Whiteley as his regular parkrun. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to so it was nice to catch up with him again.The first two miles of the parkrun were tough. Though Whiteley isn’t hilly there is a sneaky incline at the beginning that just sucks your soul. And then as you get more into the wooded parts it becomes quite twisty turny. You do three laps so it’s not a fast course but there is potential if you’re in good shape. I was in no shape really to do anything other than count down the 0.1 miles.By mile three I got a second wind and decided to push on a bit faster – mainly just to finish quicker really! I finished with a time of 23:39 which I’m very pleased with. And 16.5 miles in the bag. We helped Geoff pack away parkrun after he guilt-tripped us into it saying he had a low number of marshals 😉At this point I was desperate for a drink, specifically an ice cold Diet Coke. Mike and I were going to celebrate the long run by having breakfast at Coast to Coast which was in the Whiteley shopping area just a short walk away. But we helped him pack away and it was nice to carry on chatting with him.

Mike, Billy (another running friend) and I

We finally go to Coast to Coast and I had to stop myself downing my Diet Coke within 10 seconds.I ordered a fry-up, though I swapped the breakfast potatoes that would normally come with it for black pudding (I love black pudding) and ordered sourdough toast to go with it. I was quite surprised the fry-up didn’t come with toast to be honest.It was a good fry-up but not up there with the best (the fry-up connoisseur that I’ve now become…). I appreciated them segregating my beans from my meal as I hate a big puddle of beans contaminating everything and the black pudding was delicious. It came with a sweet potato fritter which was OK but a bit soggy and not that crispy (also quite random). But the meal was tasty and did the job. I actually didn’t need to eat again until 6.30pm!

Mike had pancakes, bacon and maple syrup which he enjoyed. I’m personally not a big pancake fan (or a sweet breakfast fan in general) so this didn’t appeal to me. But it was a lovely breakfast and a great way to celebrate some solid mileage. It was also fairly cheap as they had a “two breakfast for £10” offer going on.

My dad picked us up, which was really nice of him. Originally he was going to come and do parkrun but we had a busy day planned for Sunday with lots of walking round London so he decided to save himself – but still offered to bring us home as we were a bit stranded otherwise!

The rest of the day I was very tired. The run had really drained me. I met my mum for coffee and we did a bit of shopping and then I had a cheeky afternoon nap. I needed my energy as I was heading out that evening for drinks with my friends to celebrate a number of our recent birthdays.The evening was great. It was so nice to see my friends and de-stress. This past week has been horrendously stressful and I haven’t felt quite my happy normal self. I definitely needed to see my friends to help me relax and feel better.

Unfortunately I had another 6am alarm the next morning to catch a 7am train to London with my dad so I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I would have liked. But we had a fun day planned of the Great Newham 10k (my dad really enjoys spectating and supporting my races) and then some tasty food afterwards as a delayed Father’s Day and birthday celebration. But more on that in another post!

How was your weekend?

Do you like to run to parkrun?

What’s your ideal post run breakfast at a restaurant?

Rough Runner 10k

Rough Runner 10k was my fourth obstacle race. I guess you can say I’m a fan!

I probably would never do an obstacle race on my own. It’s not really a solo event in my opinion. It’s a relaxed and fun event and it’s about helping your team mates and giving out a deal of banter as you go. You wait for each other, you don’t run off and you encourage where you can but are equally willing to laugh at your team mates and yourself, of course. It’s not that serious.

But there’s a genuine level of fear I have of these races that’s incomparable to normal running events. I’m not a huge fan of getting wet (and with that, getting cold). So any obstacle that involves avoiding the water by its successful completion makes me really keen to not fail. That said, it’s not the end of the world to get wet. I say I’m scared but in reality, when it happens (which it always does), it’s always fairly fun, albeit a shock to the system.So Rough Runner races are done all over the UK and this was the first one in Bristol. And happily just a 10 minute drive down the road from my friend’s house. We were able to have a lovely lie-in and a relaxed breakfast before leaving. We arrived an hour before our wave and were able to check out the race village.We signed our life away (aka the waiver) and then picked up our bibs. By the way, the bibs were such a great idea. Instead of using pins, it just stuck straight onto your shirt. This is handy for an obstacle race because you’re sometimes dragging yourself through things or lying on the ground so pins can hurt or tear the bib and/or your t-shirt. My bib stayed on the entire time. Other events could learn from this!

The bag drop was easy peasy as well. It was all very smoothly run. No issues (FYI car parking was £5 – not too expensive but something to be aware of). The portable toilets had no queues either. The race gods were shining down on us. It’s also a very easy course to spectate. We saw many spectators walking around, following the route and taking photos of loved ones. At the race village there was an inflatable thing for kids to play on as well.The travelator (a main highlight of the Rough Runner event) was also front and centre in the race village and spectators could sit on chairs and watch the poor souls trying to do it – right at the end, the final obstacle.There were different speeds of how fast they were going (one on the far left actually went forward so you could stand on it and it would take you up…). Think gladiators!Our wave was the first one so we headed over to the warm-up area ready to go and, with the others in our wave, were led into the huge inflatable dome. We’d been wondering what on Earth was inside it and whether it was our first obstacle but actually it was far less exciting. It was the health and safety video…

The video was actually really well done. It was all cartoon and very funny. It was still informative and all that jazz but it was done in an engaging way that made people actually watch it. Very clever of them! Then we were released out of the dome (the smell of which reminded me so much of kid’s parties and the bouncy castles) and did a random warm-up (lots of running about and burpees…).

Then we were off. Kate, Jay and I were really lucky to be right at the front. This was just luck of the draw where we were stood by the end of the warm-up but this put us in a fantastic position for the entire race. We were ahead of all the big teams and this meant that for each obstacle we barely had to wait for anyone (which is such an issue with these races).

Most of the running was around farm fields and almost entirely flat, which was a nice change. But it did mean running on slightly uneven grass and through hay fields which just ruined me with my hay fever. It was also quite overcast but still very warm. Sadly this meant I wasn’t intelligent enough to consider still applying sun tan lotion…

Anyway pretty much every single obstacle we reached we could take our time assessing it and then doing it unhurriedly with no queue behind us. It was almost like we were the only ones doing it. We could chat to the marshals and ask their advice how best to do it or more information on it. It was amazing!

I don’t necessarily mind waiting for an obstacle in these kind of races but it does make it easier, and less rushed, if there isn’t a queue. Tough Mudder felt quite frantic and crowded at times with the sheer number of people. This was positively relaxed!

There were many obstacles, such as the Swept Off Your Feet one, where you had to get across an inflatable thing and avoid falling in the water to get to the other side.I love these photos because you can see Jamie laughing at me behind. This was one I didn’t last long on. I got knocked off the toad-stall thing by the big inflatable arm that was swinging around. It wasn’t too bad getting wet as it was such a warm day. Jay properly bossed this though and got a huge cheer from the nearby watching crowd (it was very close to the race village).He was far more tactical using speed rather than my timid stop and start approach. Though he did overcook it and end up flying off the end. He always manages to do something crazy in these races 😉

There was another obstacle where you had to run through a load of marshals dressed up as pigeons holding inflatable barriers to hit you and try and stop you from getting passed (they were pigeons because it was called “Nelson’s Column”. As we ran towards this obstacle we were the only ones around and the marshal dressed as Nelson (high on top of a column) started shouting to the pigeons with his megaphone to “get ready for war” as we approached. It was hilarious. but also very tough! They grabbed your feet and walloped you with these inflatable things, which though didn’t hurt did make getting passed tough.

I managed to do quite well on most of the obstacles and only got wet on the first one above. The fear of falling into the water was real. Though it wasn’t cold I do hate getting wet.Not every obstacle involved water though. There was a huge pen full of huge inflatable balls you had to get through (harder than you think) and things to climb up and over. Basically it was bloody good fun.

The travelator at the end though was amazing. Again we didn’t have to wait which was such a bonus. I decided to try the fastest one and see how it went (you could try each one, but only once).I almost didn’t make it (it’s like a treadmill but so much harder). I really had to dig deep at the end and I wasn’t too proud to accept the helping hand of a marshal to pull me up the last step. Jamie managed the first time as well, though Kate needed another try. Kate is hilarious. She will give everything a go but invariably does end up falling into the water…much to Jay’s and my amusement. 100% effort though – you gotta give these things a go. There was definitely one obstacle I almost didn’t do (involved being upside down holding a horizontal ladder with your arms and legs and shimmying across some water) but Jay and Kate encouraged me along and surprisingly I managed to do it. Doing these things with friends is the number one requirement.We finished feeling jubilant and on top of the world. Such a good race. Definitely our favourite so far. I did actually prefer it to Tough Mudder as it was far less busy and more fun. It had a game show feel whereas Tough Mudder has a “survive or die” feel. Don’t get me wrong, Tough Mudder is amazing and epic, but this was a lot more fun in terms of having a laugh with your friends.I was a bit sad we didn’t get a t-shirt but the photos were free. Obstacle races are more expensive than other races but I do think the price is justified. It involves setting up huge obstacles and having more marshals and health and safety, so you can kind of understand. I thoroughly enjoyed this race and would recommend it to anyone.

Have you ever done a Rough Runner?

Did you ever watch gladiators? I have a new found respect for them. They make it look SO easy.

Do you ever run races with friends as a group?