The Prestwich Challenge is a 8 mile running race with some obstacles, such as a tunnel, some scramble nets, loads of steep nadgery valleys and a really dodgy bridge over a lake made out of pallets.
I started right at the front. I was passed by a few people early on but figured that at least some of them would start to fade eventually and I’d pass them again. The route immediately went off-road along the slippery cobbles and across the motorway bridge, down into Mere Clough and into the stream. Great. I’m going to get soaked only 5 minutes from the start. It’s probably about a kilometre long, this stream and it’s criss-crossed by fallen trees that you’ve got to go over or under then a tunnel at the end…..well, it’s a concrete pipe only big enough to crawl through, 40 feet long with a couple of bends in it. Most of it is therefore in total darkness. Near the end it gets narrower, starts to angle downwards and gets a bit sketchy as the water and the slippery surface tries to shoot you out of the end of the pipe a bit faster than you would like. Out of this, into a pool then a scramble up a muddy bank onto the trail (thank God I’m wearing fell shoes). Then it’s mostly trail running with more tunnels (dry ones), some really steep climbs where I was able to grab some places back (3 Peaks training paying off there!) and plenty more running along streams.
Near the end, at the top of another climb, just after a scramble net, I’m handed a car tyre to carry for the next half mile. Cheers. After running with this I’m allowed to drop it then run down another muddy slope covered in fallen trees. This one’s so steep I’m surfing down it on my arse, into a stream at the bottom then a climb up an equally steep slope at the other side. Under a scramble net then I’m handed my tyre back to carry for the final half mile. The marshall offered me a bloody great big 255 that was off a Mercedes or something – I therefore ignored him and grabbed my trusty 155 off a Mini 😉
Almost at the end, I seem to have opened up a gap on the young lad I passed on the last climb and I’ve got to negotiate the crappy bridge/pontoon thing I mentioned earlier. I fell in almost immediately and had to swim across the lake still carrying my tyre on my shoulder. A crowd of spectators were predictably watching and cheering at the other side of the lake. After being allowed to leave the tyre on the floor all I had to do was negotiate a climb up and over a steel container (with ropes on it), a huge pile of straw bales, a skip, a scaffolding shimmy along on your hands and shins thing, a scaffolding thing you had to climb over and a run around the perimeter of the rugby pitch.
The guy who was behind me had closed the gap a bit by now. This had been a recurring theme for the last hour and a bit – I was picking people off in the long running sections then I was losing time because I’m a bit crapper than some at stupid obstacles. I’m not a bleedin’ monkey. Anyway, all I had to do now was run as fast as I could around this rugby pitch with someone trying to get past. Ouch.
He didn’t get past though and I crossed the line in 5th place. Apparently there were 190-something people taking part, although some were taking part in the team event (and had to do canoeing and carrying a team member on a stretcher). Quite pleased with that result, despite being extensively cut and bruised.