What should have been the penultimate challenge, it thought TOTAL WARRIOR was aptly named. As it turned out (future posts will explain) I had another two to come before heading to Ecuador, but this challenge had particular significance for me. I completed the first 6 challenges on my own, before being joined by Rupert & Chris for the National 3 Peaks – something that seems like a lifetime ago. So it only seems right that the final challenge that I enter as a team, is completed with two guys who have been integral to the challenge process.
Total Warrior has taken the idea of a 10k and moved it on light years. This particular 10k, doesn’t see us running the streets of Manchester (with or without a backpack), but sees us up in the Lake District to attempt not just a cross country / multi-terrain 10k, but one that is filled with 20+ obstacles along the route.
After a cheeky drive up the M6 with the lads (faithful photographer and project supporter Vicky in tow) we arrived for a brief pre-race photo shoot.
After the siren went, all three of headed off through the smoke of the gun, heading towards our first challenge – the hills from hell. To ensure that you’re veritably shattered before even starting, the up & down & up & down & up & down played complete havoc on our calves & thighs alike.
After reading about the varying obstacles alone the way, I must admit, when reading about running through fire, I thought it was more a joke than anything serious. But after battering our legs on the hills, we arrive at a small channel of water (meaning you can’t sprint), surrounded by burning pallets of wood.
As you run through the flames not only are you hit with the heat from the fire, but your lungs become filled with the stench of burning wood, something that is not really conducive with athletic prowess (well that’s my excuse for not outperforming Rupert & Chris).
As most people will have realised this by now, this project is something that I could not have completed on my own. And given the fact that the lads with me had seen me through thick & thin on a good number of challenges, I was extremely pleased to have them with me to complete obstacle 3 – the walls!
What started off as hay bales, turned into 4 foot walls, that turned into towering blockades of fear. OK, maybe not so dramatic, but my upper body strength has never been anything to shout home about, so you can understand my own personal fear. We agreed that I would go first, in order for the boost up I needed. When I got half way across and went “errrr, I can’t move” I don’t think I’ve seen Rupert laugh quite as much as when he heard similar words come from me, half way up a mountain in Wales (less said about that the better).
From the walls of embarrassment, multiple obstacles came to challenge our mental and physical endurance. Some were fun, and some less so. As we were approaching a bit of a muddy mound / hill, there was a guy at the top shouting “come on you pansies, get a move on, give it some!”, so give it some we did. As I reached the top of the mound, I flew head first over the top, not realising there would be a jumbled mess of people at the bottom, mixed with mud, water & grit. My eyes were filled with gritty mud, my hands cut to pieces, and my knees battered into some guy. I think his back came off worse than my knees to be honest. Attempting to commando roll under a cargo net with no eye sight, bloody palms and some guy shouting from behind wasn’t ideal, but I carried on.
Lots of challenges ensued, but our spirits remained high. Spirits were lifted even further, when we got the chance to hurtle ourselves down a massive plastic sheet, being sprayed with water. Rupert flew down, followed by Chris, but with the fact I weigh a good bit more than Chris, I nearly ended up crashing into him at the bottom, knocking him off his feet. Luckily my water sheet slide aim is better than my shooting target aim.
As if we weren’t tired enough, one of the final challenges was to carry half a tree (so to speak) up a down a hill and back up.The other two were still looking pretty chipper I think at this stage, though my temperament was starting to fade.
Hills & log completed, a cheeky river crossing was required, before the final slog up the final hill. To climb over the final wall, to reach the final obstacle – monkey bars over a pit of water. Really? REALLY??? Even before that crap my upper body strength was shit, can you begin to imagine what I was thinking about monkey bars at this stage.
I don’t know if it was challenge spirit, being cheered on by the spectators, or just something that I knew I had to do, but bar after bar, swing after swing, I felt myself feeling stronger. After what seemed like a lot longer, my feet touched down on the other side, I jumped down from the box, to meet Rupert & Chris just before the finish line, for us all to finish together. I can’t explain it, but having those guys wait for me before crossing the line meant so much, especially as this was the last challenge we would complete together, before the end of the project.
After we’d finished, we compared war wounds, and excitingly told Vicky about the obstacles she was unable to visit and photograph, but all three of us agreed on one thing – how far we’d come from the humble beginnings of the 3 peaks, and the likes of Hell Runner.
Total Warriors we were, but equally we knew we’d grown a lot as competitors, and that this particular challenge wasn’t maybe as tough as we’d first thought. It was however, a great way to finish our team work, and set me in great spirits for my final challenges, in the run up to THE BIG ONE!!
Help for Heroes [21:21] Challenge