In short: muddy ball-and-chain In full: Not as tough as Tough Guy (but nowhere near as expensive either). A good, challenging, morning out over a wide variety of terrain, with a great atmosphere to the race. Running along shallow streams and into the tunnel was my favourite bit, huge clods of mud attaching themselves to my feet as I crossed ploughed fields my least favourite.
Only suggestions for possible improvement would be mile markers (the nature of the obstacles making judging pace/effort by time near impossible) and a more permanent memento than a bottle of Black Sheep Ale (although it was very welcome) - mine didn't make it past tea-time. Date of review: November 6, 2008
In short: The best fun - ever! In full: It was my first go at this event and I loved it! I'd be disappointed if weather conditions were better next time, the muddier and slippier the better I wd say. Only down side was nearly drowning in the last 'Duddley' (im 5ft 2 and cant swim!) and there was no help to hand.. But despite that I had just a brilliant time doing this:) Date of review: November 5, 2008
In short: Mud, water, mud, scenery and more mud. Outstanding. Evil genius. Superb. In full: With winter pressing in on us early this year conditions looked pretty promising for a repeat of the snow covered Winter Cardiac of last February. But the weather broke and, depending on your point of view, things improved just to a fantastic combination of 'wet and cold'. Some would say perfect. The rain of the days before swelled the usually clear ambling brooks we run through, across and in and out of to mini torrents. The pathways became boggy and the fields, ploughed anyway virtually impassible. All in all fantastic Cardiac Arrest conditions!
A good field of runners assembled for the start consisting of the usual mix of club and fun runners along with the Hash House Harriers sporting their now standard issue pajamas, and a small group of lads in er 'nickers'. Clearly it takes all sorts to get involved in this race and it is indeed open to 'all comers'. Things kicked off with a couple of kms round the edges of the ploughed fields to string out the pack ready for the tighter trails. Tough going for anyone overtaking and straying off the perimeter path with the pick on the clay mix soil clogging shoes and making for very heavy going, the hills adding to the burning thighs. Then it was into the woods along the comprehensively sodden tracks offering the choice of stinging nettles or slippery boggy trails. This was truly the benchmark for tough cross country in the midlands.
Down onto the railway for the first time we stormed along the stone track to the first water hazard: a chest deep wade through muddy water then back onto the railway line the legs really stinging after the cold water and refusing to cooperate. Another mile and we dived down through the trees to the tunnel and the first stream run. The stream was half way up to the calves and rushed through the 25m long 1.4m near pitch black tunnel. With competitors forward and back visibility was near zero. The best technique is to brisk walk with a hand on the head fingers up to keep contact with the roof and thus avoid a head injury.
Out of the tunnel and into badger wood. This is a properly tough zig-zag trail up and down the steep slippery bank taking energy and concentration just to stay upright.
Breaking through the trees and out onto the farm track lulls you into a false sense of security. Then its round a corner and straight up for 400m of hill climbing and straw bails.
Into the quarry scramble: up and over the loose rocks then a harsh drop down into the quarry works themselves. At this point the scenary, the mud, the fatigue all combined to adhere a sickly strained grin on most faces. This was shaping up as the best course yet by far. The conditions only adding to it. The streams were full the fields muddy and tough. Even the down hill stretch from the quarry was heavy going with the pickup off the ploughed field weighing down the feet and making every step hard. Jumping the usually placid brook at the bottom was out. This was a slip down the bank job and test the depth. The hill on the other side was punishing to say the least. I know the course principle obstacles but have no clue when the ponds will come into play: dread washes over me.
This next section I normally love. It being a nice gentle rise while running through the trees in and out of the stream, this not normally washing too much over the shoes. Not so gentle this time out: the course markers directed us straight into the water the depth of which we had no idea about. Needless to say it was deep: waist deep. The gentle run up through the trees was a tough boggy route making full use of the boggy trail conditions. I have to say I loved this bit. Storming flat out up the bed of the stream water washing over my knees then down under the bridge and back up the hills towards the Duddleys.
These little beauties were full. I'm 6'1" and just about got across so would expect alot of people swam them. The cargo net worked it's magic for getting back out. First one pond swim-wade then straight into the next. Chucking these into the mix of a tough cross country is inspired. Getting this wet on top of everything else tightens all the muscles and even though I know there's only 3km to go it's hard. Striding out on the harder surfaces some degree of composure is regained but then out of the blue we're directed back into dip No.1. Christ that water was cold. I thought my legs stung after the first dip.
The last suprise, or so I thought, was another dive off the railway line and through the tunnel for the second time. This never tires. It's a great obstacle to have at your disposal for a course like this. It's not scary just unique and inspiring.
I was building for a little sprint finish. A last sprint up the home straight sucking it up across the last muddy stretch. Then totally out of the blue another Duddley. Freshly dug and deeper than the others. Ahead of me athletes slowly tentatively waded through. I just gave in a swam it. Then onto the home straight.
It has to be said that this was the best Cardiac Course yet. The conditions couldn't have been better. The route outstanding and clear. Some would probably complain about under-marshalling. I personally don't think long suffering marshals out in the rain would have added anymore clarity to the course. A shed-load of tape and good signage did it for me. Date of review: November 3, 2008
In short: Please provide more biscuits next time - all I got was crumbs. In full: I didn't enjoy as much as 2007. The water obstacles were just too extreme for a shorter person - had to swim through the last one - and it was hard to maintain any speed or rhythm. Date of review: November 3, 2008