Hundreds take on nature and win at MudMan
7th March 2015
The MOD grounds in Camberley today hosted MudMan, the finale of the Human Race Off-Road Series. This year’s event was the biggest yet, with over 800 people descending on Surrey to take part. Organisers had promoted MudMan as a battle of ‘You v Nature’ but it seemed mother nature was in no fighting mood, with most waking up to clear skies and bearable temperatures.
Competitors had chosen in advance whether to take on an undulating 10 or 15k run through the grounds, or attempt a duathlon that starts with a 7.5k run before a 15k bike ride and 7.5k of running to finish. Today would see fierce competition for the various disciplines, but also the winners crowned of the entire series. The champions would have travelled up to a vomitous 90km off-road on the way to securing the title.
Also joining in today were runners of the four-legged variety. A crowd of dogs, along with their suitably attired owners, were in attendance loud and proud before the start. After bums had been sniffed and special leads attached the ‘canicross’ group were ready to start alongside the other competitors. All the canines seemed just as enthusiastic as their attached human, with not a single petulant pup amongst them.
Event Director David Birdseye was delighted with the turnout – “We have seen the Human Race Off-Road Series almost double in size over the past couple of years, to the point where we have to turn people away. Obviously there’s a competitive side to it, but generally it’s just brilliant fun!”
On site in the event village were the team from Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the official charity of the 2014/15 Off-Road Series. Before the first competitors set off we caught up with Stuart from the charity who said “We have seen a large increase in fundraisers supporting Scotty’s through various off-road events and were keen to partner with a series that offered participants a real challenge to get stuck into that was also very organised and professionally managed.”
A mixture of determined faces, and panting dog tongues started to head out from 9.00am. as the trail runs got going. Whilst the weather was decent, some would even say sunny, there was still plenty of puddles and mud to contend with throughout. Route planners had mischievously added a new obstacle to the course this year, in the shape of a 30 metre long unavoidable pool of water. Whilst only two foot deep the water slowed the runners down, and they would feel the resulting squelch in their trainers for a long time to come.
Some were having a more troublesome time than others making their way over the rocky ground and climbing the plethora of hills. One person who seemed to take the obstacles in his stride was Euan Lees (Ful-On Tri), who was first across the finish line, completing the 10k route in 42:17. He was closely followed by Richard Bull (Team Dillon) and Rob Reynolds who claimed second and third respectively. Olivia Ross-Hurst made it a Ful-On Tri double as she was crowned first in the female 10k event. Maria Kowal (Fittleworth Flyers) and Faye Watts completed the top three.
ZipVit was available before, during and after the race to help athletes get all the nutrition they needed. It seemed especially popular at the on course feed station as participants were keen to re-fuel after a tough opening sector.
David Chapman obviously had an extra ZipVit before the start as he turbo charged through the 15k course in 1:09:17, making him today’s male winner. Not far behind was Ben Meakin (Mornington Chasers) and Simon Anderson. Ben was completing his third race of the series and when combined his consistently strong results made him the male trail run series champion. He collected a trophy, along with a cash prize and a supply of ZipVit. Series Runner-Up was Greg Harradene, with Ed Fisher completing the podium.
Today’s fastest female over 15k was Hazel Blythe, who was almost four minutes ahead of the nearest competition. Gemma Farrell and Gail Walker also recorded excellent trail run times on their way to second and third place. Hazel’s confident victory today ensured she went home as this winter’s female Off-Road Series Champion, beating Gemma Farrell (second) and Geri Taylor (third) and she takes home the same prizes as Ben. The finish line started to flood with muddy individuals who looked ecstatic but shattered as they grabbed a complimentary SpaTone after a turbulent Saturday morning challenge.
As the winners of the trail runs were being crowned one side of the village the duathlon was only just getting going. The first run was fairly even as most confidently completed a lap of the military base. Soon transition was bustling with hastily changing athletes as they jumped on their mountain bikes for a stint of muddy hill climbing. It quickly became apparent though that Callum Hughes was the man to beat. By the second transition change he could have sat down and enjoyed a strong tea from Betty’s burger van and still been in front, thanks to the lead he had built. Whilst many find the second run a dichotomy to the first, some heroes just take it in their stride.
It was no surprise then to see Callum galloping down the home straight first and burst through the finish tape to complete an impressive IceMan and MudMan double. His time was 1:49:14 and Callum Hughes has now seen more ribbon this winter than your local haberdashery worker. When asked what he thought of the course Callum replied “The hills are brutal, absolutely brutal. Next year you should change the name to HillyMan!”. Thomas Elwood followed just a few minutes behind making him second today. Johan Olivier (Ful-On Tri) completed the top three. Callum can add the Human Race Off-Road Series Duathlon Champion to his collection of titles. Ross Smith(Bournemouth AC) and Jon Heasman (Thames Turbo) were second and third across the entire series. An incredible effort over a tough series by all three.
This left just the female duathlon winners to be crowned. Louise Fox used all her cunning to get round the course fastest and win in 2:07:40. Not far behind was Fay Cripps who grabbed second, with Elizabeth Doyle crossing the line third. Unlike many of the other categories, the female duathlon series top three was a tight affair. Officials could be seen bustling around the finish line, working out the mathematical consequences as positions changed out on course. Fay, who had finished second today, was rightly crowned the female Human Race Off-Road Series Duathlon Champion and wins a selection of lovely prizes and a shiny, transparent trophy. After results had been double counted and checked it was confirmed that Jan Scott (Eton Triathlon Club) was second, with Naomi Brewer third.
After the awards were handed out many continued to complete the course. They were obviously tired, aching and muddy, but definitely not beaten. Maybe next time nature would get the better of these plucky Saturday morning athletes, but today it was very much a comprehensive win for mankind.
MudMan was a tremendous end to the most popular Off-Road Series yet. Many were enthusiastic about returning later in the year. In the meantime Human Race will turn their attention to the next big event in their calendar, the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run on Sunday 15 March. Around 3,000 people are expected to run 8, 16 or 20 miles and you still have time (just) to join them.