After the Christmas Day collapse of my bike’s bottom-bracket, today saw me driving off to the Brutal 10 - or in this race's case: the Brutal 16. Normally the Brutal's are 10k races, hence the name, with the Brutal being a reference to the terrain: lots of short sharp hills, mud, swamp, puddle, pond and more mud (as detailed in previous blogs), but this race for a change had 2 options: an 8k or 16k distance, with the 16k being a different route to the 8k rather than 2 loops of it as you may suspect. Naturally I had opted for the 16k version of the run: looking forward to pitting myself against the usual terrain only over the longer distance to see how I held-up.
Driving the 20 miles to the event's location of the Longmoor Camp army base, we passed through security at the gate-house and on to the camp itself, following the marshal's directions to the race base of the camp's gymnasium. The weather was looking perfect for the run: Glorious clear skies, a pale winter sun shining upon us and a chill in the air that meant we would not be overheating on the run. With all the rain of the previous week the Brutal gods were really smiling down on us today having been busy prepping the course perfectly then giving us the conditions to enjoy it at its best.
|The gymnasium base.|
|Dogs taking their owners for a run!|
|Under starters orders...|
|...and then it was all a blur.|
|The easy bit!|
|Yours truly on the ascent.|
|Looking back from the sandy summit.|
|Taking a breather... The guy on the right prepares for his dip.|
|Looking back down the steep slippery slope.|
|Lovely weather for a paddle.|
|The view from the most easterly part of the course.|
|The long final wade.|
|Catching up on a CaniX runner.|
|Climbing through the heathery heath.|
|Hello & goodbye!|
|One soggy doggy.|
One last hill and a few muddy twists and turns and the finish was in sight, crossing the line to the customary round of applause from those already finished, the welcome post-race snack of a banana, a few Quality Street and a cup or two of water.
Running dressed as a Blues Brother seemed to amuse quite a few people, with (understandable) questions of whether I was on a 'mission from God', or 'getting the band back together' and engendered some respect for taking on the course attired this way. At the finish, I could see one of the marshals looking at my feet so I couldn't help but look down myself to see if there was something the matter. He noticed I as following his gaze and said "I was just checking to see if you had run it in proper shoes". I told him that even I'm not that mental to attempt the course in them!.. The costume itself was surprisingly unrestrictive on my movement whilst running through an environment as demanding as this, although at one point I did overstretch a little and tear the stitching on the crotch. It was also cool enough to not make me overheat, so as far as costumes go its a pretty easy one to get along with whilst running.
I thoroughly enjoy these Brutal runs as they are not too serious and the entry field is wide in its age-range and is edging closer to a 50/50 split on male/female entrants. They are well organised with very friendly marshals cheering you onwards around the course. The races are getting ever more poplar as even more people discover them and word of mouth spreads. It seems as though there's a majority of runners in the field that wear their Brutal jerseys at the races, so there's certainly a 'Brutal cult' developing out there - of which I am one!
I think the idea of having the 2 lengths of race was a good idea and something worth them pursuing for other dates - perhaps keeping them to the Christmas and last ones of their season so as to keep the idea as a novelty and something special for an event and to not move away from the core idea of the runs: a brutal 10k course.
In case you're curious, position-wise I finished in the middle of the pack: 125/245 so a decent end-result for me as I aim to get my speeds up to the 50% finishing mark in my races for 2014.
|Pulling a Blues moose :)|