Around 2000 enter the race on the Saturday and the same number on the Sunday. The course starts easily enough and initially everyone is trying to skirt around the ice covered puddles. However, the tracks soon narrow, (or was it that the puddles got bigger) and you were soon in up to your knees. Some walked, and some made as much splash as possible. My white shirt, specially provided by my charity Water Aid, changed colour very rapidly. As soon as your feet went in they turned to freezing blocks and it took about 2 miles before I could feel my toes again - during which time there were frequent puddles and more ice. The hills were not too severe but took a toll. I noticed as well that muscles were not coping with the cold water - keeping them working was important. I had a very unflattering pair of running tights on (not a good look) but was really glad that I did. A lot of people were dressed in just shorts - ouch!
After a few miles of running we came across a small cargo net. This was a bit misleading, because at the beginning, the board outlining details of the route had stated that the cargo net was 5 minutes walk from the main water obstacle, which was at the 5 miles point. Hey, me thinks, I am doing well - this must must be 4 and 1/2 miles! With a new spring in my step I went on for another half mile to find a water station - bugger, this was the 4 mile point. I eagerly put the bottle to my lips, but actually, drinking water that was really freezing cold was difficult so after a couple of sips I discarded the bottle, along with 2000 other bottles. 200m down the track was a sign saying "bottles here". Oh well a nice idea. About half a mile on and we came across the real cargo net - it didn't look to bad, you could stoop rather than crawl.
However, what you didn't realize was that the gulley of knee deep mud that followed it was strength sapping. The tread on my once clean inov8 trail shoes (which I have to say were doing me proud up until now) meant for nothing, however, previously learned downhill skiing skills were a real bonus. I got through that and I knew that in a couple of minutes I would come across the big puddle. A big crowd gathered to watch hapless runners come a cropper in the brown filthy water. A group of kids crowded around one area in particular and as runners got to them they shouted "hole". But it was always too late as another athlete decided to practice front crawl. Once through those 2 obstacles everything else was ok. A long track and then a lovely little slope as you came to the finish area before another surprise at the end, yes a huge puddle just before you crossed the line. But I did it. 1 hour 22 minutes - couldn't complain at that especially as the aim was to just test out shoes and legs over a bit of more testing terrain than Southsea Seafront. But was it good fun? Definitely - so if you fancy a dirty weekend that the other half doesn't mind you going on without her, book up for GRIM 2009.
Find out more details from my website Run The Sahara
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