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A grand day out in the rolling hills of Gloucestershire

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 26th February 2015
Tags  Devil Mud Run   |   OCR   |   Paul Hayward

Race report: Obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward  has a great time at the inaugural Devil Mud Run - February 21 & 22, 2015

Devil Mud Run - February 21 & 22, 2015

Photos: The warm before the start © Reward PR

With the increase of popularity of the sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), it was only a matter of time before someone combined the “rolling hills which rise from the meadow” of Gloucestershire with OCR. Thankfully this day has come and the inaugural Devil Mud Run took place last weekend, offering competitors an eight kilometre race around some of the most beautiful terrain that the county has to offer.

Clearly the team at Devil Mud Run’s luck was in as, quite uncharacteristically for this time of year, the sun was beaming and t-shirts and shorts were back in fashion. This being said, there was an unusual amount of competitors sporting goggles and I did wonder if I was going to be treated to a dip in the river Severn.

The start line, rather ominously, overlooked a huge row of tyres ranging in size from car tyres to tractor tyres, that were clearly placed to help break up the waves and ensure that congestion did not spoil the day. On being released and charging across these, the difference in size ensured that competitors struggled to find a clear rhythm from the off. Any competitors that did manage to navigate these at speed were then faced with a wall of tyres to surmont.

Devil Mud Run - February 21 & 22, 2015

Photos: The tyres © Reward PR

Although a little brutal to start, it was effective none the less as I found myself running with a few competitors into the Cotswolds. Due to my complete lack of local knowledge I had not been expecting what happened over the next two kilometres! The Devil Mud Run took me into its claws and made me run up hills of varying terrain, ranging from knee deep mud to forest trails, and this sucked the life out of me almost from the off. I knew I was in trouble as I started to catch the last wave’s competitors, who were looking suitably broken, but the hill climbs seemed to continue.

The hills finally lessened and I reached a wall to climb that was occupied with a queue from the wave before me. All of the competitors were in good spirits, cheering each other on and gasping about how high the wall was, and it was clear that the last two kilometres had not broken their resolve. Whether this was the case later on remained to be seen!

On negating the wall we were treated to a quick descent through a water slide and into a valley of obstacles, including a series of large steps of varying height heading back up the valley. This obstacle was aptly named “Satan’s Steps” and on negating the first few, the step itself became higher and higher requiring more and more energy. You were also treated to a series of mud baths before each step towards the end.

Devil Mud Run - February 21 & 22, 2015

Photos: A helping hand © Reward PR

This combination proved deadly and as I went past other competitors, I could see I was not alone in the heavy breathing stakes. Satan’s Steps were quickly followed by a cargo net crawl down, opposed to crawling up as the current trend in OCR appears to be, which ranged from clumps of thick clay that reduced you to a standstill to a smooth run of clay under a net, that doubled as a vertical drop, which resulted in you flying down at speed!

I will be honest and admit that my smile at this point was huge; the vertical drop had caused me to come out of the nets at such speed that I went flying into the small bath of a muddy bog head first. On gaining some composure it was back to climbing the valley and breaking through the woods to the summit of the Devil Mud Run.

As the ground levelled competitors were met with a simple wall of haybales to negate. However this obstacle had not simply been “dumped” here by accident, instead, on climbing the haybales we were met with a spectacular view across the whole valley and the surrounding Cotswold hills. Yes you were there to race but you could not help taking a moment to think “wow” as you looked across this beautiful countryside.

Devil Mud Run - February 21 & 22, 2015

Photos: The final push to the finish © Reward PR

I pulled myself together and ran back down the valley for the last sprint to the finish line and a huge 15 foot wall with ropes to climb. Sadly these ropes had suffered an hour or so of competitors and were now draped in mud; making it incredibly hard to scale the wall. For those that did, the finish line and the elusive Devil Mud Run finisher’s T-shirt awaited.

The team at Devil Mud Run had delivered one of the best experiences I have had this year. The terrain was both brutal and wonderful at the same time, with some horrendous inclines and some really testing terrain, and the obstacles had a sprinkling of originality that ensured the difficult task of making both seasoned competitors and beginners smile was done with ease.

Devil Mud Run did the small things very well, such as a simple registration and marshals that were only too happy to help, and the bigger things, like obstacles strategically placed and thought out, better. In addition their finisher’s shirt would not be out of place with some of the bigger names in terms of quality.

The second Devil Mud Run will take place in September (information can be found here: www.devilmudrun.com) and on the basis of what I saw this weekend, this could be a belter.

I note that the main “constructive feedback” from competitors appeared to be the lack of a medal. If this is the case then it means that Devil Mud Run has got off to a flying start by getting a lot of things right.


About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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