Getting outside and getting active doesn’t have to involve sport in the traditional sense. If you want to get fit but need an end goal to serve as inspiration, then adventure style racing may be just what you need to get you off the sofa and into the great outdoors. The last five years have seen a huge surge in the number of events popping up that redefine the meaning of a traditional race.
These races are usually mass participation running events, but instead of your bog standard 10K or half marathon, these events are all about obstacles, booby traps and mud. Lots and lots of mud. Tough Mudder is perhaps the most famous of the genre. This 12 mile off road race has become an international hit – over 100,000 people have taken part worldwide. Every mile participants are faced with some form of obstacle. These range from the usual (cargo nets and monkey bars) to the extremely unpleasant – electric shocks and underwater ice baths. The latter is known as the ‘Arctic Enema’ – just in case the idea of swimming through an ice bath wasn’t quite grim enough.
Dalkeith Country Park has been chosen to host this year’s event on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August. Entries are open now and the earlier you register the cheaper the fee. However, if you want to take part for free, all you need to do is sign up for a Tough Mudder tattoo. That’s right, if after 12 miles of mud, sweat and tears you decide you’ve not reached your daily pain threshold quite yet, you can get the onsite tattoo artist to brand you with the Tough Mudder logo and the organisers will waive your entry free.
If that all sounds a bit crude, and you’re more prone to the finer things in life, then perhaps the Mighty Deerstalker is for you. This refined sounding gathering takes place annually in Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders. The hill race sees participants dress up in their finest tweeds and antlers before hurtling themselves through rivers, over streams and up some very, very steep hills in the dark. Runners get to choose between a short and a long route, although the actual distance is a closely guarded secret and changes every year. Organisers claim they are five(ish) and 10(ish) kilometres, but in past years this has been as high as seven and 14km respectively. The post event party takes place at historic Traquair House, where entrants are all treated to a massive bowl of pasta and great big piss-up.
But if all that running sounds too much like hard work, the Glen Nevis River Race is a less cardio intensive alternative. However, just because it isn’t lung bustingly hard work, don’t expect for smooth sailing. The race involves navigating a two mile stretch of the icy cold River Nevis – on a lilo. Although the definition of lilo is pretty free and easy, for the purposes of the race it’s any inflatable without sides. Hence many an inflatable woman, sheep and the odd crocodile have been spotted in the River Nevis. And although you risk drowning and/or hypothermia by entering, you can do so with a warm glow in your heart as all proceeds from the day are donated to the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team.
These are just a few of the more high profile races taking place in Scotland and they are really just the tip of the iceberg. From 24 hour mountain bike races to iron man contests and triathlons, there are scores of events that take place up and down the country. All offering a great excuse to get out and get fit. Because let’s face it, if the thought of an Arctic Enema doesn’t get you moving, nothing will.