Most people look forward to eating chocolate on the Easter weekend but I was looking forward to getting back in the saddle after months out of racing due to injury. Ram Run at Cliff Lakes was my first race back after my shoulder injury. My rehabilitation, with Andy Rose at Apollo Sports Injury Clinic in Telford, was successful and the shoulder held up. I raced pain free and felt strong as ever.
We had non-stop rain for the 24+ hours before the race and more predicted on the day. With freezing temperatures and the biting wind that rips across the open ground on most part of the lakes, meant the race was always going to be tough. I had underestimated the cold that’s for sure.
After a short delay, we were called to the start line. Lining up against some familiar faces and top guys in the sport I knew it would be a good race. Off we went, and we were immediately greeted by the “yellow perils”, those little 2ft hurdles that sap the energy from your legs (One of Ram Run’s signature obstacles). Around the main field and through some tyres, over some walls and then we were out the back and onto the first running section. Don’t under estimate the Cliff lakes terrain, there are some great hills. After reaching the top of the first hill which was ran in the opposite direction to previous events, the two athletes in front had pulled a slight lead, there was a fast-downhill section into the woods were the terrain twists and turns. Very boggy underfoot but great fun.
Coming out into the open we went through some of the challenging tunnels, where you feel like you’re reborn as you come out. Another short steep hill, I then pushed to the top and enjoyed the view that opened over the lakes and the next slalom section. The hill slaloms included a log carry and some nets were half of the available space was under boggy water. The last part of that section was a short tyre drag and then its back out to a nice run along the river.
The course director had made the decision to cut out the swim down river to the bridge, and in my opinion rightly so as the current was raging due to the rainfall over night. Over another wall and then onto the lake crossing, I had sight of the front two again and after some friendly motivation from the Cliff Lakes marshals, it was game on again and I felt a sudden adrenalin rush to make chase and attempt to close them down.
Once out of the water we had to tackle multiple walls of different sizes, and you guessed it… More yellow perils. I saw the front two had both slipped from the next obstacle and knew that this was my chance! I turned the corner to see some rings and a flying monkey section. I’ve never struggled on rings before, but on this day they were a real effort. Literally clinging on, I managed to get across to the rings and onto the flying monkeys. The front-runners were stalled with burpees and unfortunately my fate was the same. I couldn’t get across and it was 30 burpees for me.
Doing a lot of bodyweight exercise during training paid off. My thirty burpees were up quicker than one of the guys despite him starting before me. The rest of that rig section was a brutal mix of up and down monkey bars, rings, nun chucks and many other varied holds. I realised after I was in second place and first place was within sight. We were over more walls and then onto the “Ram Rig”. The grip was completely gone at this point and doubt was starting to creep in. How was I going to make it over this with no feeling in my hands?
Having my wife supporting me for the first time since we had our little girl was great. As soon as I heard her voice, another adrenaline rush pulsed though my body. I cleared the first half, and the chase was on. I was reeling the leader in. Through the last water section and heading towards the finish we had one more rig to go. Both of us were struggling and it could have gone either way. Knowing that the finish line was just the side of this rig, and with some real grit I pushed and over took him whilst hanging upside down from some sort of crazy cargo net.
That was it then, a short sprint to the finish and I had put some demons to bed. My shoulder was in tact and I’d won my first race for my new team against some top opposition. Straight into my Dryrobe, changed and packed up in my KitBrix and a nice cuppa tea to finish a great morning!
Thank you to to all for your support and to the Event Organisers for a great race.