Could you handle something this Brutal?

You may have read some of my posts about how I’ve suddenly got into running, but what I’m going to write about now is taking the concept of running to a whole different level!

Competing in the odd cross country 5 or 10k is now no longer enough for some people. Let’s face it, when you’ve run so many of these types of races that your medal rack is starting to bend in the middle from the weight of all the bling you keep bringing home then surely it’s time to up the challenge.

So, what you need is…


Brutal running is all about taking you to your absolute limit and as the team themselves quote,

“these events will make you wish you had never taken up exercise”.

The events are held throughout the year at various locations in the south of the UK and are exactly 10km long. However, don’t for one minute think that just because you’ve run a 10k in the past, you’ll find Brutal 10 a breeze.

True grit, determination and a little bit of crazy!Check out what else you’ll encounter:

  • Hills – steep and flat.
  • Water obstacles
  • Uneven ground
  • Mud
  • And just for good measure, they bung in some more of those hills for you!

And if you want to challenge yourself even more, Brutal have now introduced an 18 hour endurance event for solo or team runners, called the Brutal Enduro.

As a novice runner myself, this is not something I am even considering at the moment – the most I’ve run is 6k and the thought of wading through murky water sends shivers down my spine. So I figured that to get a true account of what it’s like to compete in a Brutal event I’d need to speak to someone who’s actually run and survived the course.

Debs getting stuck in!

Interview with a Brutaleer

I am friends with quite a few runners, ranging from all abilities, but for me there is one that well, in all honesty I am convinced must be part robot. I have known Debbie since 2008, when we joined the same antenatal group and now, 8 years on, with 2 children each we remain school run, book club, wine drinking friends.

So, I’ll pass you over to Debbie who’ll tell you exactly what you need to know if you’re thinking about entering a Brutal run!

What is Brutal 10?

“The Brutal 10 is a 10 kilometre long, boggy, muddy and hilly trail race that took place on Bordon Heaths army training ground in March of this year.  The Brutal 10 at Bordon is a two-lap event, with undulating, twisty trails and huge amounts of strength sapping mud and bog. The course is part of a series of ‘Brutal’ tough trail races, these are natural Obstacle Course Races (OCR) whereby the obstacles include muddy hills, tree roots, sand dunes and bogs, bogs and more bogs. The race was actually 7.5 miles…I guess mud makes it difficult to measure with accuracy!”

Have you done it before?

“Yes, last year in April 2015 I ran the Brutal for the first time and I was 2nd lady.”

Tell us about your times.

Wonder Woman“Last year the race took me 1 hour 7 minutes and this year it took me 1 hour 10 mins, so I was three minutes slower!  This was most likely due to the fact that the bogs were deeper, muddier and colder than last year when the race was over a month later (at the end of April) and positively tropical in comparison.  This year the weather for the race started with freezing fog and warmed up to a balmy 6 degrees.

Worst obstacle? 

“The ‘Chocolate Porridge Pot’, it was absolutely nothing at all like a breakfast treat.  A huge crater of grim, thick, lumpy and stinky mud to crawl through.”

Why do you do it? 

“Because I love running in the great outdoors and challenging myself.”

What do you wear? 

“I like to wear compression clothing, nothing too expensive or too precious as the mud is pretty stinky and very hard to remove with a wash.  Thick or loose clothing is not great as it retains the water and mud making you feel colder and heavier. I wear Mud Claw trainers, grrr!  Although I won a pair of Ice Bug trainers in the race so I will have to try them out soon.”

Your favourite part? 

“Sliding down a huge long muddy hill on my bum, wheeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Any funny moments?

“Well the dog that won the cannicross dog race decided to lick the mud off my trainers at the end of the race during the prize presentations.  Clearly there is something very tasty in that mud…tasty for dogs anyhow!”

What goes through your head as you’re running a race like this?

“Why am I doing this, I must be mad…this is fun though, yay mud loads of it!  I’m getting really filthy and I just don’t care!  And then…I stink…cripes my washing machine is gonna have a meltdown!”

Brutal Winner 2016When did you realise you had won and how did it make you feel? 

“I was first lady all the way round the course (both laps) although I was a little nervous that someone would try to overtake me.  By the time I was near the end of the first lap I was pretty sure that I was doing very well.  I was elated, this was the first time that I have come first lady in a race.  I was over the muddy moon!”

What did you feel like after the race and then the next few days after? 

“After the race I was so excited at having finished and done so well.  I felt amazing, but also a little cold and sore as I managed to hit my shin on something very hard in one of the bogs and a large egg sized lump appeared mid shin, urgh!  Once I had warmed up with a change of clothing and a coffee I went off to cheer on some of my friends who had also entered the race.”

How do you recover and what do you treat yourself with afterwards?

“Shower, scrub, shower, scrub, repeat.  I think I may have worn out my nail brush.  I put some ice on my bruises and did a lot of foam rolling and stretching.  Oh the glamour!  I treated myself to a few large G&Ts and refuelled with a curry.”

What advice would you give to anyone doing the race for the first time? 

“Train off road and get used to uneven and unpredictable terrain.  Do some body conditioning to give you overall strength as this will help you get through the mud.  Wear some old (tight fitting) clothing.  Expect to get a bit cold and wet.  Enter the race with a few friends, have lots of fun and embrace the mud.”

Debs winningTell us a bit about your history of running.

“I’ve been running for about 20 years.  I started running in the gym on a treadmill and progressed to the pavement.  Since moving to Petersfield over 10 years ago I have really got into trail running making use of the beautiful countryside; I love the South Downs and the Hangers.  I am not a natural, or a fast runner but I have strength and running up hills and through mud seems to suit me.  I am a member of Liss Runners and have competed in numerous races, one of my favourites is the Butser Hill Challenge, which is three times up and down Butser Hill.  Last year I did Hell Runner South which was my first OCR/muddy race and I loved it.  I attend Fox. Phys classes on a weekly basis for overall conditioning.”

Plans for the future – what other races have you got your eye on?

“I’d like to do a race that will involve the family, as my eldest daughter is keen to join me in a cross country challenge. I’m doing a team relay race with Liss Runners in May and I hope to do another couple of races in the Brutal series.  I would love to do a triathlon, which would be a real challenge as I’m not a natural in the water and subsequently struggle with swimming (mud – yes, water – argh!).”

If you feel inspired by Debbie’s story and would like to find out more about Brutal 10, check their website out for listings of forthcoming events.

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