Giveaway: Down and Dirty – The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs

As some of you will know, last year I took part in the Nuts Challenge. I absolutely loved it and spent most of the course with a grin this wide (except when I got to the nets where I probably had my default about-to-burst-into-tears expression instead).


Although in the days leading up to the challenge I did a lot of googling for tips, what I didn’t have is a book. A book like this one, perhaps.


Yeah, a nice big, thick, glossy book full of tips and photos of fit blokes (and girls) would have come in handy, that’s for sure. Plus it would have been an excuse to buy a book and I’m not one to miss an opportunity to buy more books.


Down and Dirty: The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs covers the most popular obstacle races and mud runs and has tips ranging from those for newbies choosing their first race to a guide for the more hardcore amongst us to surviving a 24-hour-plus race such as Death Race or Tough Mudder.


Everything’s covered in the book, from how to conquer the obstacles, training techniques, what to wear and nutrition. There’s even a few recipes, including one for paleo energy bars (simply shredded coconut, pitted dates, cinnamon and maple syrup – very similar, in fact, to these delicious energy balls I made a few weeks ago).

Another thing it mentions and something I’d definitely advise taking into consideration is the facilities. The Nuts Challenge had a Pimms tent, which is obviously the most important bit but although it had a changing area, it didn’t have adequate washing facilities. You’re going to get muddy at these races. Seriously muddy. Caked in mud, in fact, and unless you’re travelling home in your own car or someone else’s car who doesn’t mind a bit of mud, you’re going to have to get on the train looking like Stig of the Dump and smelling like something that’s just emerged from a swamp (which, let’s face it is what you’ve just done). I got invited to take part in an obstacle challenge later this year but I’ve had to turn it down as there aren’t any showers and I wasn’t prepared to be seen in public looking like this.


Win a copy of Down and Dirty: The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs

If you haven’t taken part in an obstacle race before, I thoroughly recommend you do – they’re amazing fun. And if you do sign up for one, well, you’re in luck as I’m giving away a copy of Down and Dirty: The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and  Mud Runs. All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know which obstacle course/mud run you’ve done or one you’re signed up to do or one you’d like to do in the future.

I’ll choose a winner at random after the closing date of Friday 9 August 2014. UK entries only please.  Good luck!

Nuts Challenge 2013 Report


So, just what exactly was I scared of? The Nuts Challenge was brilliant! Before we’d started and I was standing at the start with my fingers in my ears to drown out the annoying warm-up woman (then took my fingers out of my ears in case there were photographers around who could take photos of me being a killjoy), I was a bundle of nerves. My hands (when they weren’t covering my ears) were shaking. I felt sick and close to tears; I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to do any of the obstacles and I was going to have a 7k walk round a field.


As we got going, we had a couple of gates to hurdle (pah to gates, I live in the countryside, I can do gates) and I thought to myself, I’m not going to miss out any obstacles, I am going to make like Susan Jeffers and feel the fear and do it anyway. Even the ones with nets and water.

My first wobble was at an obstacle I can’t even remember now. But next to it was a narrow log with a thin rope above it and I asked the marshal if that was another obstacle or was it cheating if I used that to get across and he said it was another obstacle. So, that was okay then, I wasn’t cheating. And, anyway, slippery narrow logs above water with only a thin rope to hold on to is scary enough for me thank you very much. I get dizzy watching the contestants on I’m a Celebrity crossing the rope bridge to go and see Ant and Dec.

It didn’t take long for me to walk round an obstacle though. There were three sets of two narrow logs high above a watery ditch with thin ropes above them but, to give me some credit, I didn’t run away screaming and go back and get changed and hot foot it to the beer tent (as Shaun thought I might have done, he told me at the finish line), I did give it a go but I only got about three steps before deciding it wasn’t for me and I was going to end up falling six feet to a watery grave, so backtracked and walked around it, holding back the tears as I told myself off for being a failure. Then I gave myself a talking to and consoled myself that I did give it a go, which, in the days leading up to the challenge was more than I thought I would do.

I’m going to mention here (purely because it’s as good a place as any) that Betway* are the sponsors of The Nuts Challenge and they had provided mine and Shaun’s places. After the event, I got sent some corporate photos to go with my report and I’m glad I got them after the event and not before as I’d have had to sue them for mis-advertising or something. As it was, I found them hilarious. Here’s Betway’s version of one of the obstacles. See the nice clean girl with the nice clean hair and full make up? HA! AS IF!


Here’s the real life version (taken from the Nuts Challenge Facebook page).


I’m not going to go through every obstacle as there are simply too many to mention but I’m proud I gave it my best shot and jumped into dozens of muddy ditches and crawled through tyres and climbed over tyres and crawled under barbed wire nets and pitch black tents and tents being shot at with polystyrene pellets and waded through chest high muddy lakes and jumped over wobbly boards in lakes and crawled over inflatables bobbing on lakes and – get this – I EVEN WENT OVER A NET THING! Not the first net thing as, when I got there, I thought of Travelling Hopefully saying ‘you can do it’ and I hesitantly started to climb when some knobber jumped on it making the whole frame shake which in turn left me shaking and climbing back down. But, later on there was a smaller net thing that I did conquer. I should probably admit that later on from that though was a really high net thing that I looked at and said ‘no chance’.

One of my favourite obstacles was Hamburger Hill – sheets of plastic constantly watered down by a man with a hose to make them into long slippery muddy slides. And what a slide it was. I whizzed down it and – yes, you guessed it – ended up submerged, head and all, into a muddy ditch. You can see how much I hated it by this photo (unfortunately the only one on the website – I’d love to see some of me doing the other obstacles).


Despite it being advertised as a military assault course, it wasn’t full of shouty army twats. The nearest thing to an army twat (and I feel bad calling him that as he wasn’t a twat at all) was the man at the bottom of a hill who handed me a tyre the size of a house to carry up a hill and then carry it down the other side. I’m pretty sure I gave him a look that said ‘don’t take the piss – do it yourself’, despite my mouth saying ‘thanks’ upon being given the tyre.

The only thing I couldn’t do, which looked simple enough, was climb through barrels. I don’t know why, I just couldn’t do it – everyone else could, but they were too slippery for me and I couldn’t get a grip to haul myself through them. Hey ho.

The atmosphere on course was amazing. Like any event, you get the competitive element (still haven’t forgiven the knobber on the net), but on the whole, it was just a ton of fun surrounded by friendly enthusiastic people giving everyone else a hand up the ditches or whenever they needed a hand. I even got accompanied by a 9 year old boy when I emerged from the lake near the end who asked if I was going to run to the end. I said yes, and he said everyone else I’ve asked was going to walk, can I run with you? So I said okay then but then he moaned I wasn’t running fast enough and so I said feel free to wait for someone quicker then and he said yes, that was what he was going to do and so I said goodbye to the cheeky little bugger my new little pal.

Because Shaun had been super-speedy and finished almost 1.5 hours before me, he was at the end to see me finish and managed to get a couple of photos of me going over the hay bales. At this first photo, he’s shouting at me to jump up as he thought I was chickening out, but I was merely waiting for a bit of space and a spare rope to hang on to (I’m in the red t-shirt being stereotypically British and queuing patiently).


But as you can see, I made it to the first level (I’d like to thank the girl in orange next to me for making me look like I’m a size 6).


And on to the top.


And over the other side.


Then there were some tyres for me to gracefully tiptoe through, gazelle-like. Or, in my case, tread gingerly over hoping not to trip up.


And then that was it. The end of the obstacles and the end of a fantastic event.


All I had to do then was run through the finish line and pick up my medal. Shaun was there to greet me. He looked far too clean.


He obviously didn’t put as much effort in as me, as I looked like this. Bloody muddy, bloody knackered but bloody happy.


Thanks to The Nuts Challenge for a brilliant event and Betway for the places; we had such a great time (you can read Shaun’s report here). I feel like I’ve barely touched on the event, there was so much to it. I haven’t even mentioned the gorgeous sunny weather, the festival atmosphere in the event village, complete with band and beer tent and even a Pimms tent.

It was so great, in fact, we didn’t stop talking about it for two days and as soon as I got home I immediately started recruiting people for a team next year. So far, we’ve got Travelling Hopefully, HelsBels, Fairweatherrunner and Fortnight Flo. We did try to recruit abradypus but she said ‘Good Lord, no!’ (still, we have a year to work on her). Who else wants to join us?


*JogBlog takes no responsibility for anyone gambling away all their money. If you have money to spare, give it to me. Ta.

Nuts Challenge 2013


I don’t know why I kept it quiet, I must have been trying to convince myself I hadn’t really said ‘yes, I’ll do it’. I mean, seriously, why did I think I can do The Nuts Challenge: ‘one of the longest military assault courses in the world’? Why did I think I can do a challenge that says in the disclaimer, ‘skin abrasions, bruising, sprains and hypothermia are common and there exists a strong possibility of bloodletting and broken bones or worse during the event’. That scared me. Well, it scared me until I realised most of that has happened to me during gigs over the years.

I’m scared of everything. Of most things, anyway. I’m not scared of mice, unlike my friend Tracey who I didn’t know until Tuesday night in the bar in Charing Cross Station is VERY scared of mice. Two titchy teeny tiny mice were scampering around the skirting boards and Tracey did that girly screaming thing and even jumped up on the chair like women do in cartoons when they see a mouse. I just sat there saying ‘aaaah, they’re so cute’.

But I don’t think this is a I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here type challenge (I hope not, anyway, as I’ve had some horrific things in my mouth in the past but none of them has been a witchity grub or a kangaroo penis); this is more of a climbing under nets and climbing over nets and getting wet and muddy type of challenge. I watched a bit of the video on the website this morning and there’s a man wading through muddy water that’s up to his chin. UP TO HIS FUCKING CHIN! No way, José.  There’s over 100 obstacles on each lap. That’s a lot of obstacles.

I only looked into it properly today. And it’s not like I didn’t have any notice, as I was offered the place over a month ago. I emailed Shaun this morning and said ‘THERE’S A MAN ON THE VIDEO WADING THROUGH WATER THAT’S UP TO HIS CHIN’ and Shaun said, ‘didn’t you watch the video before accepting the place?’ Um.

Shaun is also doing the challenge. He was going to be hardcore and do two laps but that was full up so he’s doing the 7km lap with me. He said, ‘shall we do it together?’ and I thought, ‘yeah, that would be good’ but then I thought ‘no, it wouldn’t be good, it would be really crap. He’d start shouting at me for being a wuss when I’m standing at the bottom of the net thing crying and then I’d start crying even more and then he’d start shouting at me even more’.

Honestly, I am scared of everything. I’m scared of being in cars, I can’t cross the road, and I can’t walk down the stairs without holding on to the banister. If I have two things to take downstairs, I have to make two trips so I’ve got one hand free to save me from falling down the nine not-very-steep steps we have here.

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing tomorrow. Wish me luck.