It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since we last accepted the challenge of Total Warrior. With two new team mates, my older sister, Karen, and friend, Lisa, we were ready to conquer this course again. Unfortunately, dodgy knees meant that the other half couldn’t join us this year but he, my girls and mum were our greatest supporters.
We arrived at Shap just before 10am. In stark contrast from last year, the sun was out and it was hot! The atmosphere was already electric as we went to register and apply the obligatory ‘Warrior’ tattoos and headband. After fuelling up on bananas and energy sweets, we wandered to the start area to look out over the course and watch the preceding wave begin.
The excitement and nerves were growing, (mainly nerves for Karen and Lisa who weren’t quite sure what they’d let themselves in for!!) until finally it was our turn to make our way to the starting area.
An initial obstacle had to be overcome before reaching the start – a tunnel! This was a nightmare start for Karen, who is claustrophobic, but she did it!
The music had us bouncing at the start and then we were off! The first obstacle is Leg It, which involves running down, up, down then up an amazingly steep hill! I always say that I need more hill training, so this was ideal for that!! Amazingly, I even managed to run all the way up the first hill, but it was bloody hard work.
Next, we came to the Human BBQ. It had been altered from last year by the addition of a trench of water that you had to run through. With no rain to dampen the flames this year, the heat really hurt the eyes. I think this is where the doubts started setting in for Karen as to what on Earth she was doing here. With much encouragement, she kept with us and we battled on to obstacle three – Step It Up. This was a series of fences which got progressively higher – requiring a strong guy to get us over the final hurdle!
The appropriately name Tyred was the next challenge. This was a series of energy sapping tyres that you had to walk over. The amount of mud already on our shoes made it feel like we had lead weights attached!
Just before 5k, we felt re-energised after the drinks station and Karen admitted she was rather enjoying it now!
The Worm Muncher involved crawling in deep mud underneath barbed wire. So much mud! I got completely covered but this mud treatment was a bit cheaper than going to a Spa; and a much better experience!
Next came You Tube, two dark, claustrophobic tunnels full of mud to crawl through followed by an exit into a mud pit.
A swim across the river was followed closely by Ball Breaker. A narrow beam over water which you had to walk over. I managed to get across the first beam but failed miserably on the second, narrower, beam. I managed to fall into the Muddy Funster; neck deep in smelly, muddy water before ducking under low beams under water as part of the Dunking Time obstacles.
After a short run, the Widow Maker awaited us. This was a cargo net, uphill (!) which you had to crawl though. Last year, I discovered that one of my hidden skills is being able to crawl really fast! This was apparent again as I blistered up the hill like a woman possessed, passing a lot of guys on the way and earning the tag of ‘Spiderman’ from a bewildered guy who was left in my dust!
The Spiders Web proved quite tricky – mainly because it involved avoiding being kicked in the face by the Warriors ahead as we made our way through a maze of rope. The next obstacle, the Grand National, was only possible to complete because of help from fellow Warriors. I am indebted to the strong guy who gave me a lift over both these massive fences as there was no way I’d have been able to get over alone! I returned back to the other side to assist the others getting over and, between us, we managed. Just. Though it wasn’t very dignified!
The Peaks of Pain proved no problem for us. We spent lots of time playing in hay barns when we were younger – creating obstacles and mazes, so this was made for us!
Clastrophobe was next. This was a series of tyres that you had to crawl though – very, very painful on the knees and difficult to get out of! Again, straight into a mud pit! Squelchy!
The Trenches, which followed Claustrophobe, proved to be the most painful obstacle for me! I sprinted up the hill of mud (more hill work!!) and then, because the marshall was encouraging it (!), slid down the other side on my belly! Big mistake! I was expecting a soft mud slide; how wrong was I!? It was very stony and gave me lots of scratches on my arms and belly and made me lose my number! I’m just glad I didn’t get stabbed by my safety pins! We then had to crawl over a series of trenches in mud, glorious mud, underneath a net. Very messy!
The Monk’s Playground was another new addition this year. We had to walk under a couple of platforms and over a fence in ice cold water. The cold of the water really took my breath away, but it was quite refreshing! We then made our way through more mud and climbed up out of the valley. My Mizuno Wave Ascends prove how good they are by affording me grip in situations like this.
We sprinted through the Shocker and, again, I managed to avoid getting any serious shocks. Slide Away awaited us at the top of a gruelling climb. This was so much fun as we sped down and into the muddy grass at the bottom. However, now back at the bottom of the hill, we had to make the arduous ascent once more.
Log It involved carrying a log down the hill and again back up the other side! So many hills in Shap! This proved easier than I feared (I have no upper body strength!) because the log wasn’t too heavy and I was high on adrenaline!
The Sheep Dip involved a longer swim across the river followed by a difficult climb up the bank on the other side. Last year during the river swims I could only manage doggy paddle as the cold just took my breath away! This year I was able to do front crawl, or at least a version of it!
Next came a final slog up hill before the Last Climb. Surprisingly, I managed this with little difficulty and then the end was in sight! Hang Tough was the obstacle I was fearing most. As I mentioned earlier, I have no upper body strength and the thought of doing monkey bars over water was understandably scary!
The adrenaline really must have been working with me because I managed to make it half way across the bars before losing my momentum and falling in to the cold water. Still, I was amazed to have made it so far across. Jackie’s recent garden renovations have obviously helped with her upper body strength as she astounded everybody (including herself!) by making it all the way across! We waited at the other side for Karen to join us, linked hands and crossed the line together! We had accepted the challenge of Total Warrior and conquered the course!
2 hours 24 minutes and 56 seconds is not an amazing time but we started as a team, stuck together throughout and finished as a team proving to ourselves, and other people, that we can achieve more than we think possible. And that is, I believe, the essence of what Total Warrior is about.
If that wasn’t a good enough day already, we later watched Great Britain win 3 Gold medals in the athletics on what proved to be ‘Super Saturday’; Greg Rutherford in the long jump, the impressive Jessica Ennis in the Heptathlon and the legend that is Mo Farah in the 10,000m. These are the guys that will truly be inspiring the next generation and I hope I’m doing my bit in encouraging my own girls to lead healthy and active lives also.