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The Strongman Run Survival Guide: Mud, Sweat And Beers

by Ross Edgley
Wednesday 15th May 2013

Race report: Run247 columnist Ross Edgley reports Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in Germany - May 4, 2013

It was Saturday the 4th of May and I found myself on the Nürburgring race track sharing nipple tape with an elderly German gentleman who's dressed head to toe in lycra as we both Vaselined up our inner thighs to the sound of German pop music blaring out of 20,000 watt speakers. It could only be the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in Germany. An 18km assault course consisting of electric fences, net climbs, hay bales, mudslides and ice-cold lakes. This was very different to how I’d usually spend my Saturday but after getting an invite from event sponsors Fishermans's Friend I thought I should give it a try, even if only for the free cake I was promised after the race.

So here I now find myself sitting on my sofa post race with my legs up in the air (since I’m told it will help the blood flow back to my body the way it should) as I write about an event that can only be described as being as painful as it was enjoyable.  


For me the event itself began long before the starters orders as all 10,000 runners and their family and friends mingle and share stories of their preparation. It’s a unique blend of pre-race rituals, as the Strongman Run pros stretch and warm up, whilst the more recreational runners put the finishing touches to their face paint, costumes or in one particular case a Finnish man who was making the final adjustments to his Borat mankini. I can’t quite explain it but imagine the sense of fun you get with a carnival but then mix that with a hint of competition and sense of adventure in the air. That then is the start of the Strongman Run.

Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in Germany - May 4, 2013

1km -5km

The race itself starts on the track of the Nürburgring, with the competitive runners making their way to the front jostling for position and those in fancy dress gladly making room, like an unspoken etiquette of the Strongman Run.

This changes ever so slightly once the race is started by a huge cannon, followed by clouds of smoke as everyone, regardless of ability, takes off like Usain Bolt as they are fuelled by pure adrenaline from the pre-event festivities.

Hurdling the hay bales in a single bound and sprinting up hills with no regard for the lactic acid build up in their calves. I would say this lasts right up until the 5km mark when the tempo and ‘feel’ of the race changes.

5- 10km

Now whoever invented obstacles 3 and 4 can only be described as some sort of evil, adventure/endurance genius. Like something out of a Saw film this section consisted of jumping into and wading through a one and a half meter deep trench, filled with freezing cold water, and then climbing a muddy embankment on all fours only to then remain on your hands and knees and crawl 200 meters under an electrically charged net (still dripping wet from the trench to increase your chances of getting a nasty shock). How bad was the shock? Well I’d say pretty bad and a liken it to getting punched and dazed for a second, however the German gentleman who took one to the temple after popping his head up to look for his friend may argue it felt slightly worse.

Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in Germany - May 4, 2013

10- 10km

Between 5-10km I think the adrenaline had well and truly worn off and instead people were now being solely fuelled by the free bananas and energels being handed out around the course, coupled with the support of their team-mates and spectators. This was further put to the test when faced with 200m long stretches of piles of tyres you had to climb over, that tests both your balance and the durability of the bones in your ankles and 45 degree gradient hills that you almost have to climb instead of run up. But it was during this period of the event that I realized the reason people travel to Nürburgring every year to do it and the ‘spirit’ of the Strongman Run became apparent. Complete strangers from different parts of Europe would be stopping on the side of the track to help each other stretch their cramp plagued hamstrings out, people would stop and turn around on the larger hale bales to offer a hand-up to anyone they saw struggling and in one act of heroism I will never forget, I saw someone take a hit on the electric fence and prop the net up by his head so his struggling friend could crawl through unscathed.

10- 18km

The final stage of the race is arguably the easiest. As you approach the finish line you can smell the freshly cooked cakes waiting for you and are greeted by thousands of spectators who cheer you on like you’re Mo Farah winning Gold at London 2012. Certain teams would have practiced their finish line pose for weeks for that final photo opportunity and you're reunited with friends and team-mates at the beer tent to exchange stories and recount every step in detail.

The end

Now looking back as I write this I won’t lie - my legs are in pieces, I have blisters in places I didn’t know you could get blisters and I’m still very tired from the post event festivities that took place in a night club 400 meters from the track. But would I do it again? Absolutely without a doubt and I have already booked my place next year!

Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in Germany - May 4, 2013

For those who want more details you can visit the Fisherman’s Friend Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/FishermansFriendUK or visit the official Blog here: http://www.fishermansfriend.de/strongmanrun_eng/

And if you’re thinking about doing it next year, you’ll find me at the cake stand carb-loading pre-race, hopefully see you there. 

Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run in Germany - May 4, 2013


About The Author

Ross Edgley

Sports Scientist with a BSc Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough University Ross Edgley was a Strength and Conditioning Coach at The English Institute of Sport working alongside Britain’s Olympic Physicians, Nutritionists and S&C coaches and is currently fitness and nutrition advisor to a range of celebrities, athletes and what is considered the UK’s most innovative sports nutrition company http://www.theproteinworks.com


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