Over the last couple of years I've taken part in all sorts of fitness events. Everything from 5k races where I had paint thrown at me, to exhausting classes and even a couple of marathons. However, there is one type of event I always said I'd never take part in. One type of event that felt a step too far. You see I've always been pretty sure that mud runs weren't for me.
All that hype around being the toughest, the idea of mild electrocution or wading through sewage, well it just didn't do it for me. Which is why, when I first met the race director of The Royal British Legion Major Series Alex Stanley I was somewhat cagy about whether I'd actually be signing up for his race...but by the end of our chat I was well up for the challenge. Here's what changed my mind.
Alex explained to me The Royal British Legion Major Series is different from the other mud races out there, it's resolutely not intended to be a macho event, it's not about being tough or going through hell. Nope, it's all about creating a fun, friendly environment where you can challenge yourself no matter your experience or ability.
Ability is a bit thing for me when it comes to the idea of a mud race. You see I have the upper body strength of a particularly lazy gnat. There's nothing there. I also have vivid and uncomfortable memories of not being able to haul myself over the wall when the Army made their annual visit to my school with an obstacle course each year. Alex very kindly dealt with my worries reassuring me that if I could run 10k (which I can) I would be absolutely fine explaining that each obstacle on the course was designed to be achievable, but that if I got stuck one of the Major's troops would be there to lend a hand and, if necessary haul me over. Very reassuring. Plus there are two distances 5k and 10k, so this really is a race that's accessible to everyone.
And that brings me on to the most unique aspect of the series, the troops. 40 of the major's finest, all current or former members of the armed forces, are positioned along the course to motivate, encourage (often loudly) and help out all of those with gnat arms. If you've ever been to a British Military Fitness class you'll know how great these guys are, as Alex stressed there really is no shouting (although possibly some loud encouraging), it's all about helping you to reach your own potential and reminding you that you can do it!
One of the things I was most curious about what how on earth you pull off an event like this. I mean a road race is a feat of logistics, but throw in mud, water and obstacles and things get really complicated. Turned out that if I'd thought about it I would have probably realised this was a dumb question, after all the event is staffed by experienced members of the Armed Forces. People who've built obstacles as their day job and who are trained to ensure everyones' safety, even in the most hostile environment. Again, if I'm going to be throwing myself over obstacles it's reassuring to know that I'll be well looked after.
The other thing about members of the Armed Forces is that they're super organised and can pull off nearly anything they put their mind to. Which makes some of the innovations Alex has up his sleeve for next year all the more exciting. Now, he wouldn't tell me the details but I'm assured there'll be exciting immersive zones that will take on all your senses as you scramble over obstacles and wade through mud. Given that the USP of the series is already atmosphere and interaction this is going to be something next level...and it was probably at this point in the conversation that I decided this was a race I really needed to try! I for one am super excited to experience it all!
I spoke to Alex just after Remembrance Sunday and it was clear that The Royal British Legion is an organisation that's pretty close to the hearts of everyone involved in pulling off these races. Alex told me how proud they are to have The Legion as the title sponsor of the race and how with so many current and former service personnel working for British Military Fitness it was the obvious choice. It's also a great choice because it's an organisation everyone can relate to or has some link to - my Grandma has built a pretty solid social life around The Legion and it got her through some tough time - and spans the generations, much like the races. The Royal British Legion Major Series is looking to raise a cool £250,000 for The Royal British Legion.
So there you have it, Alex got me convinced and I'll be lining up at the start line getting ready to haul ass over obstacles and get covered in mud!!
Fancy joining me? I mean I could do with the moral support...sign up here.