Bruises still around from Tough Mudder, and it was time for Nuclear Fallout. A 10mile OCR in Brentwood, Essex. Probably the smallest event I’ve done (excluding the Major North last year), after mainly sticking to Spartans and Tough Mudders (as well as road runs), I was looking forward to trying something different. Also, Nuclear Fallout has a permanent base, as oppose to events across the country, which gives the obstacles a different edge. There were 16k and 8k routes. We were tackling the 16km (10 miles).

Passionate about the countryside and outdoor sports, Nuclear Races aims to thrill people with truly epic, gritty and highly organised races leaving everyone who takes part with an amazing and satisfying sense of achievement.

The rain on the way to the event was VERY heavy – it’s guna be muddy 🙂  We all got quite excited about the signs to the ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’.

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I was running with my favourite race-buddy.. James.. hooray! Despite both being quite fit and doing numerous races, this was only the second time we’d run together (first was Tough Mudder Yorkshire this year), as unfortunately, my ‘getting fit’ had coincided with him ‘getting injured’ (IT band problem, shoulder separation injuries…)! We were also running with James’ dad Harry, and his club, Energise Mud Runners… unfortunately, we missed the team photo… (d’oh!).. as I was looking at the course map for as long as possible in one of the tents… it was cold! Anyone looking at me before the race would not have thought I did this for fun… I was freezing (it wasn’t even that cold..), but it meant I couldn’t wait to start!

A fun warm-up and lots of ‘We love mud!’ shouting later and we were off, in the later 12.30 wave. Later wave = lots of churned up mud. The first obstacle was the first (of many) mud ditches, named ‘Bitch Ditch” (see below), which did a great job of breaking up the crowd early doors. The sound resonating from the ditch was great – lots of splashing, screaming and everything in between. This was a sign of things to come – lots of mud ditches to climb into, and climb out of. They aren’t glamorous obstacles like the half pipes or the rope climbs, but they do take it out of you when faced with… lord knows how many… it seemed like hundreds!!

bitch ditch

Early on came the ‘Aquaphobia’ obstacle. After climbing out of a mud ditch (shocker), with the help of a rope… this simply consisted of metal bars across a ditch below (see image below) – the drop was significant enough to make you really not want to fall down! James walked over but I looked at it for a while wondering.. “how the hell am I meant to cross this?”.. I looked at the beams at the side, but these were so muddy that they looked like an even worse option. Remember that your shoes are caked in mud – it would be very easy to slip and take a couple of knocks on the way down! Also running in a later wave meant the bars were covered in mud. In the end I crossed very slowly on my knees, trying to lock my kneecap into each bar as I crossed for extra stability! Then more trauma for me… a walk out onto a beam and then a jump to reach the next platform, then ANOTHER (significant) jump down, then ANOTHER balance beam. All these things are simple enough on their own, but combined with muddy shoes and muddy surfaces, they make me quite nervous! James helped me through though and I was very glad to have them behind me! A climb over a wall made of tyres was a welcome relief (hooray.. I can hold on with my hands to something!).

aquaphobia

After Spartan Beast, carries seem pretty easy in comparison. At Tough Mudder, the log carry was kind of a joke, and I was pretty gutted that London South excluded the Hero Carry (my opportunity to find the biggest bloke I can and put him on my back!). Nuclear Fallout’s carry was heading towards Spartan league though… just to crush your spirit a bit more.. you had to carry it in a circle, which looks perfectly do-able.. as soon as you got going though, you realised.. “this was going to take a while!”. See Garmin data below…

circle

Fun and games. A couple of walls added into the centre as well for good measure.

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‘Hang Tough’ – I really need to find somewhere to practice rings. As you can see.. James gives it a valiant effort…

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I am the proud star of (I think) the best wipe out photograph taken that day.. I’m horizontal! At least (I hope) it means I gave it my all, the rings were just so slippy it feels impossible to get any grip.

James had ‘accidentally’ played a hard 80 minutes of rugby the day before, so was unfortunately struggling with fatigue after about half way (“is there any food on this run?” he asked… “i dunno”!), and then cramp. A bit of walk/jogging later and we were told that jelly babies awaited at obstacle 34. YES. JELLY BABIES. THAT’S WHAT THAT MAN NEEDS. Oh wait, we’re only up to obstacle 24. Nevertheless, the thought of jelly babies kept us going for a little while, and the thought of the ‘fun’ obstacles. But not yet. A failed attempt at the 100m+ long monkey bars (obviously) meant more mud ditches, and then the most horrendous cargo net crawl ever.  The net was heavy due to being caked with mud, and seemed to go on FOREVER. Literally, forever, I feel like I’m still there. Not only that, but my GoPro chest harness kept getting caught on the net, which felt like someone was literally holding me… lots of loud swearing later, and we were FINALLY OUT.

The zip wire was a lot of fun. You got given your rope and had it attached for you onto the cable, hang on and off you go! I guess this is where having a permanent location is a big advantage. Whoosh and splash down! There was one unlucky soul who didn’t get that far though, somehow managed to let go straight away and fall straight down into the cargo net below.. oops!

Then came the ‘Death Slide’ but first came THE JELLY BABIES. James grabbed several handfuls and still had plenty to chow down when we were at the top of the slide ready to go! The slide looked a lot bigger and steeper than the photos I’d seen, but after a slight hesitation, I was down.

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Another cold, awkward swim and we were out, ready to tackle the last 3miles(ish?). I’m sure I attracted the attention of the water safety team AGAIN though… I must always look like I’m about to drown.

After these ‘fun’ obstacles, it felt like we were on the home straight… but nope, still a LONG way to go and LOTS of obstacles. Unfortunately, I was a bit cavalier with my GoPro and it ran out of battery at this point, so my videos ends here. Some of the wall climbs that I’ve felt very confident with before were quite nerve-wracking due to the amount of MUD. when you’re about 10+ feet in the air and your feet slip off a wall ledge, it gets your heart pumping!

‘Coach Michael’s Quarry’ (which was apparently only assembled the night before) consisted of 14 steep and slippery slopes which you crawled/climbed/slid up and down with the help of some ropes. This was a lot of fun, however now we’d rejoined the 8k route, there was a bit of congestion and some queuing.

A slide down a pole and some more ditches later and we’d reached the quarter pipe (or we just call it ‘Everest’, as its a smaller version of TM’s signature obstacle – still pretty big though). James and I made it up quite easily with some helping hands from the top. It would have been interesting to see if we could have done it on our own, but nevermind. Once we were up, the whole deck seemed to clear of people… “I guess we better stay and help!” we thought. This was a lot of fun – helping people up the wall together. Saying that though, my hands were extremely swollen that evening, and I certainly felt the DOMS in my shoulders for the next couple of days! It’s not often that they’re used to holding onto, and trying to lift 15 stone fellas (and some lighter folk too…!) After a while, we thought we may as well wait for James’ Dad and buddy, Jon. The pained look in Harry’s eyes before TM Yorkshire Everest is still engraved in my memory… he might need some help with this too. When they arrived, they were quite pleased to see us, which was nice! They both got up first time and off we trotted again.

Hmm attractive mud-coated hair.

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STILL yet more obstacles – tyre climb, balance beam, haystack climb… and finally we were at the finish – medals hard-earned.

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I really enjoyed Fallout. The obstacles were great and a good mixture of skill, strength, as well as some of them having a real fear factor! Great value considering it was half the price of bigger events. Not as scenic as other long runs but the mud distracted you from that. A big shout out has to go to the Fallout volunteers, who were fantastically enthusiastic all the way round.

Here’s my video..