Spartan super – Palma

A Spartan with a difference…. having only taken part in a few Spartan races over in the uk, I thought I would venture out and take part in a European Spartan event.

As my birthday was in March, I asked as my present an entry to the Spartan Mallorca in Palma. I was lucky enough that my brother lived in Palma so it worked perfectly. I have visited Palma a few times, but have never managed to visit the hills and explore that much.

I was entered into the elite super event. For some reason I thought it was a 10km race and it wouldn’t be hilly…. how I was wrong in many ways. So being March the weather was perfect, we flew out Friday and raced on Saturday. Knowing I hadn’t trained enough leading up to the event I wasn’t expecting great things. But it would give me a chance to see what I needed to work on.

A day before I flew out, I did my research and realised it was 10 miles and not 10km. On the drive up to the registration point I also realised this was not going to be flat. Surrounded by hills that looked like mountains. It was going to be a leg burner.

Registration complete and ready to go we took off to the start line. You could see their were some very strong athletes around and with this being the first event in the Spanish nationals you knew it was going to be good field.

The elite wave set off and it started off as a slight incline and a few walls appeared and some water ditches. So far so good. Having not done a European Spartan I wasn’t sure on what obstacles to expect and there was no map available before the race. A few of the usual obstacles popped up and a few obstacles which made it much more interesting. The aim was to do the minimum burpee penalties as possible. (30 burpees for failure of an obstacle).

You could feel the incline getting a lot steeper, one moment I do remember very well was the sound of chains. Then once round the bend you could see what the noise was about. Heavy chains around the neck while going up a steep steep hill and back down again. But as you came down you could see ahead of you another hill to go up which looked like it had zombies walking up it. Calf muscles now pumping and hard.

Along the way there were slack lines and carries while balancing and the usual barbed wire and walls. The terrain and hills were an obstacle on their own and even having to scramble up rocks. The challenging thing I found was coming down the hills as they were covered in loose rocks and stones and knowing just one wrong footing you could easily hurt yourself.

You know when you are near the end of a Spartan race when you get to the spear throw. I could hear the music to the event village and their were crowds of people around the last few obstacles. A rope climb and a multi rig were the last main obstacles, followed by a cargo net and another wall. With the fire jump in sight it was a pretty sight to see. My legs were ready to finish.

Going to another country to compete has definitely given me the bug to see what else is out there. The difference in obstacles and even the attitude of the races is refreshing.

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It’s about who you race with, if go on your own or as a team it’s about who you meet and who you share your stories with. There are always people you know who don’t wish you well done or good luck and don’t want to know what you went through. Then there are people who love hearing about it and are always there to wish you well. I don’t always understand why people act the way they do and why people get jealous over other people’s successes. It’s just important to remember who is always there for you no matter what, and what ever you do it makes them proud.

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Urban Obstacle Gym

urban_profileA hidden gem in Berkshire on the edge of Surrey, offering obstacle training with a difference. This year has seen many new obstacle and outdoor boot camp facilities pop up over the UK. With the OCR World Championships heading over to the UK this year, what more of an opportunity to get in on the action. Nick and myself started last year setting up and planning the obstacle gym for a January opening, not the best time of year to open an outdoor training facility. But the weather doesn’t bother us!! It is attached to an outdoor fully equipped gym with strongman training facilities. There was already the basics when we began but it needed a lot of attention. We are not like any other obstacle gym we are not here to take nonsense and prance about, we are here for people who want to train hard and to get stronger on obstacles.

We have many more plans in place for the year to expand and get bigger and better. At the moment we offer obstacles such as – Monkey bars, flying monkey, stairway to heaven, dragons back, high rig, swaying ladder, walls, over under over, rope climb, sternum checker, traverse and many more.

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We are currently offering a Pay and Play session a month with options for groups to book in during the week. With myself an athlete competing in elite races over Europe and Nick a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach and a seasoned OCR athlete and all round monkey at obstacles. With both being ace climbers and always looking for adventures. You are in safe hands to help over come your obstacles.

With the weather meant to be warming up, (but as I type this in March it is currently snowing outside) Urban Obstacle is a great place to train and what a healthy way to train – outside in the fresh air. There is water and there is mud so be prepared for the conditions.

We currently have Pay and Play sessions ready to take bookings. These dates are the 22nd of April and the 12th of May.

https://www.riderhq.com/o/1183/urban-obstacle-gym/enter

Located – Lily Hill Dr, Bracknell, RG12 2UG 
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Red Bull Neptune Steps 2018

The Red Bull Neptune Steps race has always been one on my bucket list to do. With a swimming background and an enjoyment of obstacle racing what could be better…. forgetting the freezing water issue!!

A week before the race – the beast from the east had hit and temperatures were a lot lower than usual. Even though we knew it was going to be cold… 3 degrees celsius was much colder than previous years.

I arrived in Glasgow in the morning, my heat was not until after lunch so I had the enjoyment of watching the 12 men’s heats. Seeing grown men broken due to the conditions and seeing how hard the event actually is. Neptune steps is definitely not an ‘easy’ event for anyone. I got more nervous watching and seeing men drop out even at the first obstacle. The first section of the swim was a 190m and then you approach the first obstacle which was a cargo net… sounds easy, but with freezing water pouring on top of you and having to pull yourself up using your upper body strength, it was something else!

I tried to keep warm all morning, which was tricky in the weather conditions, which seemed to get worse throughout the day. I was in the second heat of the females, I looked on and watched heat one of the ladies take to the water and seeing the facial expressions of the ladies didn’t make me look forward to my turn. To help prepare yourself for the cold water they gave you a two minute climatization before your start, two minutes to get in and concentrate on breathing and get used to the cold temperatures (easier said than done), you then got out again and then 30 seconds before the start you had the enjoyment of getting back in again.

IMG_0305So it was now my turn to start, they gave you a 10 second count down and then you are off. I set off way to quick and excited, I have never swam in such cold water and I struggled to get my head in the water. I was leading the way and then all of a sudden a gush of cold water went down into  my lungs, it felt like my lungs froze. I struggled to breath and started to panic, the girls started to catch up and over take. I swam on my back for a few meters to help focus on my breathing and concentrate on what I was to do, I didn’t want to pull out. I then tried again. I made it to the first obstacle and to my surprise I got up with no problems. Over taking some girls who struggled to even get onto the net. I knew from after that obstacle I was just less than half way.

I dived in from the lock and swam to the next obstacle, a wooden ladder. This obstacle was one of the easier ones, you could get on and climb up quickly to the top. Swimming into the obstacles was hard. You had to put your head down and just go for it, after a count to 3 and a big breath I went for it, with the force of the water pushing you the other way and then knowing that water will then be coming down on top of you. You think you can have a breather on the obstacles but there’s just no chance. Along the way there were three small 60cm rope climbs but the next big obstacle was one of the worst – the rope ladder. With the force of the water on top of you, you felt like you were being waterboarded, trying to find a gap in the water so you can breathe and at the same time trying to pull yourself up. Having to use my elbows to help grip onto the ladder as my grip strength was not doing well thanks to the cold water and the force of the water on me.

I now just had 2 of the rope climbs left and the climbing wall. When you reach the top of the climbing wall you can see the Red Bull arch which means you have almost finished. The climbing wall wasn’t too bad, the obstacle itself wasn’t difficult it was now more of a fight to coordinate your body and make things work. You can feel your hands and feet getting colder, even wearing protective gear it doesn’t take long for the cold to hit. Trying to coordinate yourself up a climbing wall without the use of of hands and feet is a lot harder than it sounds. With just one rope climb left and a swim to the finish, I could see a finalist tag hanging down to grab. This meant I had to do it all over again in the final. It was mixed emotions of – “Yay, wow I did it” to “Oh my god I have to do that all over again”. It would of been so easy to stop half way through, it was hands down one of the hardest races I’ve done, physically and mentally.

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Jumping into the hot tubs was one of the nicest feelings and the realisation of having to go through that again. I really couldn’t of done it without being shouted at all the way –  and knowing that my friends and family were watching on live stream kept me going. Even on each lock having someone shout “3,2,1 Go” made such a difference (I didn’t want to go back in the water once you get out at a lock).

I now had an hour and half to wait until my final. I got warm and tried to relax and warm my chest back up, from swallowing the freezing water had really effected my breathing and it felt so hard to take a breath I was worried about how I would cope in the final.

IMG_0306Women’s final time and I knew I was up against some top athletes. My aim – was to finish again! We did a quicker climatization as I think we all knew what it was like from the heats. Before I knew it we were off again. I had learnt my lesson from the heats and knew to keep it steady and not set off to hard, I set off much better and managed to keep a good rate to the first obstacle and over took girls along the way. I got stuck behind someone on the first obstacle which slowed me down but I just knew I needed to keep going. I knew what to expect and was now around 5th or 6th place with another girl. We got to the last rope climb and my hands just didn’t want to work and I fell back twice, I managed to climb up and dive off and swim to the end. I was happy with a 6th place overall. My first proper open water swimming event and managing to knock 2 minutes off my heat time.

It was an amazing event and experience and I will definitely be entering again to try and do better. I had such fantastic support from everyone and the Red Bull team were brilliant. An event definitely to push yourself to the limit and making you realise how strong you actually are.

A massive thank you to everyone who shouted at me supported me and Obstacle Race magazine for the live stream so friends and family at home could watch the action. Also a big thank you to that special someone for helping me get to my plane and being there for me always and I wouldn’t be here without him.

Holly

xxx

Tough Times…

So we are almost at the end of February and the last two months have been the hardest two months to date. Its been tough but it has made me realise a lot about myself and also about others. People who you think were your friends, enjoy seeing you hurting and get off by having  good old gossip behind your back. Also people who you didn’t realise were such good friends, sticking up for you and being there for you. I have no time for bored careless people who get enjoyment from your situation.

I have had to put training on a back step which I can say now, wasn’t the best idea. I never stopped, just cut down on training – lot. I have hated every moment, watching people train and seeing instagram posts on progress and what I’m missing out on and basically feeling sorry for myself. Training and racing makes me so happy and I’ve missed it so much. I need be stronger in myself, mind and body. I haven’t been thinking about myself and what I want, Ive thought about giving everything up, thinking that would be the easy option and what everyone wants, but it’s not what I want. So here I am, feeling more alone than ever and hating what I’ve become and trying to get myself out of a hole and back to where to were I was before, a happy Holly.

So as from yesterday I’m back on it, Im ready for some hard work and to get back on my game, I have races booked and can’t wait to race my first OCR race of the year on the 3rd March. I  now need to work on myself and what I put in my body. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and do what I love. I will take the tough times as experience and hopefully it will just make me stronger and make me grow. So please stay tuned and see how 2018 will go… Im hoping many more adventures and experiences.

 

Holly Jones 

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Training – Red Bull Neptunes Steps 2018

So as part of my blog, I’m going to allow you to follow my training for the Red Bull Neptune Steps which happens at the beginning of March next year.

If you haven’t heard of this race then all it is an open water adventure race which involves swimming 420m and climbing 18m over seven canal lock gates – easy you may say… but this all happens in the icy cold waters of Glasgow.

As a swimmer from a young age I have the skill already there. Although my swimming has mostly been in a swimming pool and have only taken part in a handful of open water swimming events.

I have done a little research into the event and have found out that most of my strength will need to be used for the climbs and a lot of training in upper body and pull ups is a must.

I am also in talk with a coach to help build up my acclimatisation to the cold water. Trying to find somewhere to train in the winter is a little tricky but he’s put me in touch with the local lido which is currently at 12 degrees!!! Brrrrrr!!! Also taking cold showers often should help – this will be a challenge as I like my showers extra hot. So stay tuned to see what happens next and how I get on with the cold!!

EVENT – Muscle Acre, Mud Slog – 5th November 2017

Remember, remember! The fifth of November, The Muddy trenches and obstacles.

The last in the final installment for the 2017 Muscle Acre events – until next year!! I had already taken part in the winter and summer events this year so was looking forward to my trilogy.

Muscle Acre for me is great – it’s a local event which just keeps on growing and with more and more people giving it ago. There was a chill in the air and my biggest decision was to decide between long or short sleeve compression tops. I decided to not be brave and instead be prepared for the worst and go with the long sleeve.

The atmosphere around the event village was buzzing with more familiar faces making an appearance. The fire pits were most appealing and would of happily stayed close to one.

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I was in the front runner wave at 10:40 and was going for the 10km distance and as usual we were on time and ready to go. After a quick race brief we were off onto the very familiar switchbacks and tyres. The course was great, a mix of terrain and obstacles and with very friendly and encouraging marshals out on the course. I had the pleasure of running the course with Laura Heywood  and Kate Stillwell – Great athlethes!!!

 

23167964_1947067132199629_6188742972475372536_nWell done to all Pack Fitness members – its great to see more and more members giving it a go.

 

EVENT – Kelly’s Cross Country Challenge – 15th October 2017

Kelly's XC Challenge 2017 Guildford #running #racephoto #sussexsportphotography 10:26:56

Kelly’s Charity Events support charities local to the areas that they serve. They like to work with pro-active charities who work hard within the community to raise funds, enabling them to continue with the vital services they provide. They like to work in partnership and build long lasting relationships with our charities.

I have been lucky enough to do a couple of Instagram Takeovers on Kelly’s Charity Events page to show people what I get up to in a day. I also helped to promote this event with our fitness group – ‘Pack Fitness’ and encouraged members to sign up to a great  event to help raise money for Challengers. All money raised would be going to help  the charity Challengers which recently had a devastating fire to their building in Guildford.

The event was taking part in Loseley Park, Guildford. We arrived nice and early on the Sunday morning and the site was already buzzing. The kids race kicked off at 9am with either a 1km or 3km route, after a fun warmup taken by Nick; trainer and owner of Pack Fitness, they were off.

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Next there was a choice of 21km, 10km or 5km run or canicross. I thought this was a great choice for such an event and members from Pack Fitness took advantage of this. The weather was brightening up and some blue sky even appeared. The 21km set off first, they had 2 laps to complete. The 10km and 5km set off together and there was a good turnout – its great to see so many people get involved!

Kelly's XC Challenge 2017 Guildford #running #racephoto #sussexsportphotography 10:29:31

The first 3km seemed fairly nice with a mix of terrain and so far not many hills to climb. Having done a lot of speed work recently to try and improve my running, I may have got a little excited and my pace was faster than normal. We hit our first major hill and then down into a woodland track, at this point we were over taking some of the 21km runners who set off before. (Some with headphones on and not noticing people over taking and staying in the middle of the track.) Down this track I managed to roll my ankle and ended up doing a weird hobble run. I got to point where I had to decide if I continue straight ahead to complete the 10Km or I turn left to complete the 5km route. The next day I was grateful for just doing the 5km and not pushing it as my ankle was pretty sore the next day.

I managed to cross the line in 2nd overall and 1st female and just behind me – yes I did IMG_1369beat him – Nick and his dog Bodhi came in 1st for Canicross 5km. The whole of Pack Fitness enjoyed the event and with some great times from everyone.

The marshals around the course was superb and everyone around the event village was so friendly and I would definitely recommend Kelly’s Charity events to anyone – great courses for great causes!!

 

 

https://charity.kellystorage.co.uk

https://www.packfitness.co.uk

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