Brutal Spine Attrition
Catchy title, huh?
Really, this is an amalgamation of the names of the horrific events I’ve either been talked into or, even more foolishly, entered into all by my stupid self!
Sounds appropriately scary though, so I guess it illustrates something of the fear I have, in the lead up to these things.
Let me backtrack and give you some context before clarifying just what it is that I’m proposing.
After that, you can make up your mind as to whether you asign this to the, ‘that’s intriguing, I like people doing idiotic things’ file or the, ‘well, this guy is just stupid enough to deserve to break’ file or just simply the , ‘WHY?’ file.
I am a coach and an athlete for Complete Human Performance and, although I’ve spent most of my background training in various Combat Sports and martial arts, my own focus over the last few years has switched somewhat towards exploring my limits in extreme endurance events.
In 2016, as well as several skyraces and some mountaineering, I took part in the Celtman Extreme Triathlon, dubbed the worlds ‘2nd’ toughest Triathlon.
I simply survived.
During the swim section, around 20 mins in, I took a blow to the head in the melee and drowned a little.
They fished my carcass out of the water, I fell asleep trying to rear naked choke a kayak, and when I came to, I spent the next (foggy) half hour on a boat I have no recollection of, convincing doctors and directors that I was good to go.
To observers – ‘Sure, I see 3 fingers!’, ‘Of course I’m not dizzy!’, ‘Absolutely, I’m 100% fine!’
In my own head – ‘Why is everyone in my bedroom?’, ‘Who are all these cartoon mermaids?’, ‘How am I going to fight all these mermaids when my head is sewn up backwards and my hands are now made of foam?’
Somehow, I bluffed my way through enough to be allowed to get on the bike and continue the race, not without several stern reminders about the waivers I’d signed (gulp).
I’m reliably informed that during my transition from wetsuit to bike gear, I tried to put my helmet on my feet and pull socks over my head and there was a fair bit of doubt about whether I knew which way up was :-/
It took a good 2 hours on the bike, and one moment at the top of a mountain with the same bike over my head about to throw it into the sea, before I finally felt like I was back in the room and (sparing you a full race report), I made it to the end.
Although I scored a DNF on the race, I put in a reasonable time, which would have been a pretty bloody good time without all the delay in the water.
Fast Forward to February 2017…
I somehow managed to get myself invited as a ‘Wild Card’ to take part in one of Britain’s toughest Winter Ultramarathons, The Arc Of Attrition.
The Arc, is a 100 Mile foot race across harsh and unforgiving terrain, exposed all the while to the sea, through the night..in bloody well February.
Training for this was tough, with 30 mile runs wearing a 20kg pack through the night being a choice favourite, as well as maintaining decent strength throughout (har har).
At the start line, I felt nervous but strong and well prepared. We got underway and I slipped into a steady pace at the front of the pack. After about 3 miles in, my HR had settled after the initial nerves started to ebb away…and…
At mile 4, I stumbled and BROKE MY DAMN ANKLE! The crack was sickening to hear, let alone feel, and the instant reflex puking and near whiteout told me a lot.
Yep, it was done.
So I did the sensible thing and I carried on to the next checkpoint and lied my ass off to everyone who asked how it was.
To observers – ‘Yeah, I think I turned it a little back there.’, ‘Oh no, I’m fine, I just need to man up.’, “Cola? Yes please! Mmmm refreshing! Catch you at the next checkpoint!’
In my head – ‘ I BROKE MY DAMN ANKLE!’, ‘I BROKE MY DAMN ANKLE!’, ‘I BROKE MY DAMN ANKLE!’.
*At this point, I should take a moment to apologise to my brother, who I whispered the truth to. When he suggested that I was to stop this idiocy immediately, I may have used a few naughty words and sworn him to silence in a not very becoming way. Sorry Dom.*
I continued on (and to save you another full race report), I made it to around mile 76…and did it again. I spent the next 4 miles literally crawling to arrive late at the final cut-off and my adventure ended.
So, I should give up, right?
Now I’m angry. Genuinely, I’m fed up. There was more. So much more on both races and I’m not giving up here. I’m not going backwards either.
In September, I plan on taking on the worlds Toughest Extreme Triathlon, ‘The Brutal’ and, well, I’m not content with that (or Alex isn’t…I’m not sure whose stupid idea this was) so I’m going to do the Double.
This means hitting all the extreme Ironman distances prescribed, yet doubled. You do the math, I really don’t want to.
This will serve as a precursor for what I hope to be a successful attempt at a world’s first as, in January/February 2018, I plan on doing attempting the absolutely insane yet wonderful, Montane Spine Race back to back with…(yes ok I am going back)…The Arc Of Attrition.
Although several people have tried, no one has yet succeeded in completing both of these winter Ultramarathons one directly after the other.
I plan on being the first.
In amongst it all and in alignment with the concurrent training models we’ll be using, I plan on being able to demonstrate maintenance of not insignificant strength for a 70kg (feeling very) old man, and we’ll reveal how in due course.
Yeah, Yeah, I know, I didn’t even survive the last 2 races entirely intact but hey, we all love a trier don’t we?
Over the next year or so, I/We (at CHP) plan to use this blog to cover my training, demonstrate the Hybrid Methodology we’re implementing and showcase some of the talent (hint – I am not the talent) that WILL allow us to achieve all this…and more.
So “Brutal Spine Attrition”!
Who’s with me?