With the Beast from the East and Storm Emma causing disruption across the UK and with many events cancelled the team at The Nuts Challenge took a tough decision to take out some water sections of the course, which caused somewhat of a stir among the ocr community some for it some against it. Either way, it was time to race.
It had been 2 years since my last 4 laps of Winter Nuts and from what I remembered it was a cold tough slog through thick mud and freezing water but like 2 years ago I had one purpose in to qualify for the OCR World Championships, to be held here in England later in the year.
I arrived on site bright and early picked up my race pack and Blue 4 lap bib and headed off to the transition area set up for all multi lap runners, found a spot for my two KitBrix. I had a plan 4 sets of race clothes bundled up and strapped up with my kitBrix kit straps easy to find and change into after each lap should I need to if i was cold. I had 4 sets of Nutrition packs one for before the race a 3 for the race consisting of AMsport energy gels, energy bars and water bottles with energy mineral and amino acids mixed together and a few bananas
0800 the race started I set off in short sleeve and leg skins and the my new KitBrix kit supplied by champion Systems and a dryrobe beanie. The pace among the 4 lap and unlimited lap races was fast with the leaders making themselves clear from the go, however with previous experience this race is not a sprint and Is won / completed in the preparation and thought that goes into it. With this in mind I ran at a comfortable pace and with KitBrix teammate Rich Enderby before long we hit our first taste of how cold the water could be on the course jumping in and out of knee and waist high water that froze the legs and sent them bright red.
Next up the new obstacle stairway to heaven quite possibly the biggest one I have seen at an OCR already wet and caked in mud resulting in a slip off the top and a penalty lap, this worked great only one attempt kept the queues down there was also a nice rig to work across with a choice of lanes I chose the slack line traverse to try and save some upper body strength for the later laps.
Not feeling too cold I opted to just change my top layer but made sure to take some time to take on the nutrition I had planned to, this was made harder by Rich stuffing down what he needed and running off into the distance. My KitBrix DobiPak was in the bag to keep my wet used lap clothing in keeping my dry kit separate and my dryrobe to make changing easy.
Happy I had stuck to my plan I set off on lap 2 for some more punishment. And back to the stairway to heaven for another crack this time success and no penalty lap and onto some equally muddy and wet rings another obstacle down and soon back into the woods for some more running and navigating a maze of buildings to find the quickest route to the exit.
Feeling a bit colder I opt for a long sleeve base layer and new hat as my other was wet I spent the same amount of time in transition making sure to drink my 500ml or AMsport energy mineral and amino mix grab a bar and gel and set off for another lap the one thing The Nuts Challenge has plenty of is high cargo nets which by this time were caked in mud and great to slide down. I usually find laps boring but with Nuts there are so many obstacles you almost forget your on a lap as each obstacle blends nicely into the next section of running or maxing through water and the rives and streams dotted around the course.
Here is where it started to get cold. With my pace starting to drop, my body was not keeping as warm so the last lap I opted for full long base layers and hat, thesame nutrition with an added cup of tea. By this time I had a rough idea of where I was and I was inside the top 10 so one more lap to push through. I knew what was coming. the stairway to heaven was shut, I assumed for safety reasons, and I had got all the other obstacles figured out by now where to push where to try take a rest and try conserve energy. That said the last mile was a struggle. Getting cold and running low on energy after 19 miles and 05:35:46 on course I had not only knocked 30 ish mins of my previous Winter Nuts I had taken 7th place and qualified for the OCR world championships Elite.
I would like to finish with big 'thank you' to all the marshals on the day for their support and time on and off the course. The Nuts Challenge did not disappoint. See you next year.
Written by Mark Rogers, Team KitBrix