Survival of the Fittest: London Town

Four months ago, my crazy, mad, badass friend Christina, suggested a group of us equally badass, crazy girls form a team and get ourselves registered for Survival of the Fittest, in London. ‘Of course!’ we all said. ‘We’re really hardcore, we can totally take this’. We met once to discuss training and plans over dinner – and then, as with all best laid plans, life got a little bit in the way. There was work, and holidays, and injuries and well, it couldn’t be that hard could it?

A week before the event I went into flat panic. I knew I could manage the running. But the obstacles? What if I fell and broke something? Or worse? What if I couldn’t *do* any of them? Cue massive online crowd sourcing and googling – which put most of my anxiety to rest. Basic fitness should do. But only just. So that just left me time to paint my nails. Race day nails are a sacred tradition.

Saturday morning arrived and the day started with an alarm call at 6am, not my usual weekend routine (urg), and we were all more than a little bleary eyed in the cab ride from West London down to Battersea Power Station (thanks National Rail for your impeccably timed engineering works). But the cobwebs were briskly blown away by the Arctic temperatures we were greeted with when arriving at the site. It was BRASS MONKEYS cold. Even with five layers and a hoodie, at 7:30am the sun had made absolutely no impact whatsoever. My first thought was, how on earth were we going to manage an ice bath? And secondly what the actual f*ck was I thinking? No training! Freezing conditions! *meltdown*

But at least it wasn’t raining. It is November after all, miraculous weather!

Well hello there Battersea Power Station, looking all sunshine pretty!

By 8am we had signed our disclaimers (favourite phrase: ‘No Showboating on the obstacles’) and located the bag drop. Other than having to pay an additional £2 for the bag drop (remember – this race cost £65 to enter…) the whole process ran like clockwork. Bags sorted, race numbers picked up (with safety pins included and they provided pens, luxury) and we were ready to go.

Obstacles! Strategy! *actual fear of death* 

The Mud Honeys: (L-R) Christina, me, Matlida, Tina and Chris

Just after 9am, we were ushered to the start line, and after a very quick warm up and debrief on safety (‘Don’t play with the traffic on Queenstown Road’) we started at bang on 9:15, the allocated slot for Wave Two. We were right to pick an early start, thankfully very little mud at the beginning of the course and after clambering over the first obstacle of hay bales we were off to tackle the rest.

A bit of jumping, criss crossing, and clambering and we found ourselves at the Monkey Bars. Given I have very little upper body strength, I was dreading this one the most so was very pleased it came so early in the race. The actual bars happened to be rather high off the ground and I could not reach them without a jump off the base bars. My actual nightmare and while we were contemplating whether to jump and swing, the girl in front of us lost her grip, fell and and landed slightly askew on her ankle with a sickening ‘crack’. White with shock, she said, very calmly ‘I think I heard something crack’. We agreed. Again, the race was spectacularly catered for and huge kudos to the marshals, who got her off the course out of harm’s way. They got her looked after very quickly, and it looked like she was in safe hands, so we moved along.

Tina, Matilda and I decided risking it this early on, wasn’t good strategy, but props to Chris and Stina who missed the drama as they were already half way across!

Thankfully that was the only real drama we encountered for the rest of the race. We took a quick stretch break on the run in Battersea Park to support Christina who was soldering through with a leg injury (hero), and I need an extra boost (or three!) up some of the steeper walls.

The moment when I encountered what looked like a rather long drop off on obstacle –  and froze – wasn’t a highlight.  I over thought the issue and got completely paralysed with my fear of heights, not able to jump down (for fear of hearing *that* crack) but equally I couldn’t turn around and go back. This was when I was so thankful I was competing with a team. Tina calmly explained, while shouting up at me, that I just needed to turn around and lower myself backwards. Simples. It really was.

This issue comes up again and again with me, over analysing and then just getting stuck (sometimes literally, legs swinging off the top of a wall thinking the marshals would have to come lift me down after everyone else had finished). I am my own worst enemy, if I get out of my own way and just DO IT, the course goes so much smoother. These little epiphanies I have while covered in mud and sweat. Wish I could have them while sitting in my slippers on the sofa drinking green tea, but hey. I’ll take my inspiration where I can find it. I tend to find it while partaking in mad, crazy, and usually strenuous, activities.

Having climbed up and over countless walls, we finally got to the ice baths and mud tips. By that point we were pretty warm and the freezing water wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to be in my head (at 3am this morning, debating my chances of survival). Another theme. It usually is never as bad as we make it out to be in our heads. But it was cold. My breathing went all weird.

This was followed by more water, climbing and clambering and finally we hit the last obstacle – the infamous Wall of Fame. This took some serious team work and bit of help from the general population, a boost up and then a pull over. Shout out to the large lovely ginger bloke who came to our rescue when we couldn’t get Chris over  (thanks mainly to my lack of upper body power!).

And that was that! I think we did it in 1hr 15mins or so, not bad considering we had a laugh, took a stretch break (or two) and we finished together as a team ‘Leave No Woman Behind!’. Heroes.

No photographic evidence as yet, but I’ll update the blog post when the official pics come through. My knees are bruised and battered beyond all recognition (that Over & Under obstacle that we had to do FOUR times is responsible for that. OUCH). But otherwise, we were all high enough on adrenalin to vogue out, post race. Check it.

Matlida’s face PRICELESS (2nd from right)

Bad Ass. And the sun is in my eye 

BLING!!

More for the collection

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