Sunday, 21 April 2013

Yorkshire Warrior. Water, mud and northern grit.

Luke and I were up early in preparation for setting off to Harrogate for the Yorkshire Warrior. Luke came to pick me up at 7.20am and we set off at 7.30am intending to be there by 8.30am. We got there at 8.15 and our excitement had now turned into a slight case of nerves. About 5 mins behind us was Jessie with Matty and that was our team, as Rob had to drop out yesterday due to family reasons.

Luke, me and Matty keeping warm and feeling nervous

After parking in an almost empty field as we were one of the first there, and by the look of other Warriors turning up we were also the least prepared. After getting our numbers signing the health and safety waivers we stood around for a bit and then made our way over to the start as people were gathering in anticipation of the first wave of people setting off. I took a few photos over the next 25 mins and the crowds just kept growing and growing. We couldn't help but size up our competition even though it wasn't a race, and when we weren't sizing people up we were commenting on their outfits. This was all because we were nervous about what we had signed up for.

It was now time for wave 1 to head to the start so we all went down to see the first start of the Yorkshire warrior. There was a man dressed in spartan attire with a microphone getting completely into character and doing a good job too. He was there to explain something's and to give the warriors a quick warm up, then he set them off with a 3 count. 1.2.3. And they were off really excited and worried at the same time, no one really had an idea as to what was a head but we soon found out.

As 10 minutes later the Spartan called the 2nd wave to the start and that was us, we lined up at the front for some reason like we were gonna be off like a shot or something! Like the wave before we got our briefing and our warm up before we were set off too. This time it was a 10 count to build the tension more, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 GO.

We set off pretty quickly but so did everyone else but at the first gate 100m away we all slowed again as it was too small to fit everyone through at full speed. This was why we were at the front so we could get through the gate and be off on our way without too much disruption. We ran for about 500m before we reached a wall and had to hurdle it, this lead us into some trees where we had to negotiate down trees and logs until we reached another wall, again hurdling it. A little run then brought us to what they called the spiders webs, a group of trees all tangled with string and wire in all different directions and you had to navigate through this to the other side. At the other side we were startled by the sight of a fellow warrior slowing to light a cigarette which made a few of us laugh. It was then down the hill to the next obstacle, a cargo net crawl under a gate into nettles leading down to the Salmon run. This was our first of many encounters with cold water, we had to get in the stream and advance upstream for about 200m in freezing water, and slippery rocks. At the end of this section was a 30ft climb up a muddy banking to an old railway line, the railway line was long gone but trees and shrubs and roots were there instead. From here was a couple of quick obstacles a tyre clamber followed by a crawl through a 20ft tube barely wide enough for stocky people so it was an elbow crawl slightly uphill.

A 1km run up and round the surrounding hills led to the log carry. Choose a log and then its up and down a banking a few times then off running again. Into the trees we went and then it was water time again which was thigh deep 10ft puddle with a queue at the other side leading to another puddle. This one was different this was a foul smelling bog stomach deep to me a 6ft tall guy never mind some of the 5ft tall warriors around me. Once you were in this bog you had a rope to guide you across this 30-40ft puddle but you had to use your feet to feel you way as the guy in front of me found out the hard way. He tripped over a log under the water and went face first into the bog, poor guy got a mouth full too. Once out of the bog you had three big bankings to climb up and down on the way to the first set of 6ft walls to climb. I was worried about these as I was afraid I would be too tired to pull myself up. It was all in my head and I flew over them my feet barely touched the tops and I was over both of them.
Off we were again running for another km until we came to a 15ft climbing wall to get over then a cargo net climb and then running another 500m until we reached more water holes to cross. We were doing well as a team keeping together and helping each other when we needed it, we even became 'those guys' who high five each other after each and every challenging obstacle, it was fun and kept our spirits high. This was very important was we descended down a muddy bank to the entrance to THE TUNNEL. An abandoned railway tunnel 800m long in complete darkness, or that's how they had sold it as in the description for the event. It was sneakily filled with water ankle deep in places and knee deep in others which was actually quite refreshing! They did provide torches but they were useless and were more about being able to see other people rather than where you were going. Some poor girl actually went over on her ankle in there and was taken away in an ambulance as we came out the other side, which is bad you don't want to see others get hurt whilst having fun. From the tunnel we ran another 1km then we had to jump in a ditch covered in places by netting so we had to crouch down or bend to keep our heads out of the netting. The further we went in this ditch the more muddy it got and I almost lost my shoe it got that boggy. Once out of the ditch we ran again until we had to do the ups and down or over and unders if you like. Then it was the big round hay bales 1 high to start then 2, then 3, back down to 2 then 1 again and then onto the last obstacle for a while the barbwire crawl. It was a good 2km run from here and about halfway we came to a sign saying 5 miles halfway. We couldn't believe it we felt like we had done about 7 miles by this point, but we carried on and came to an A frame climb with a Hydration station on the other side.

We stopped for a drink before pushing on and coming to another A frame climb, which was beside a tree with a very tempting branch to swing off the other side. Somebody gave into temptation and broke the branch and must have fallen about 7ft but he was ok. Running over the next field was hard as the ground was so uneven but we soon were at the next climb, over a cargo net then a couple of walls. From here it was back towards the hydration station but on the way we had to climb up and slide down a couple of bankings. By this point my knee was starting to rear its painful head again and I was having to walk a bit but at the hydration station I had a chance to rest it. The next obstacle was another crawl through a small maze of poles not too bad but all this was on a slight hill which wasn't good on the knee. It was about now where we started to miss the water puddles as we were getting warm again, but got distracted by a deer being chased by a dog, by the time we had got our heads around the funny sight we had reached the next obstacle. We were pretty excited about this 1 by now, it was the ice bath. I didn't think I would have been excited by an ice bath before today but I was and as we climbed up it Matty decided to dive in head first which got him a cheer from the others around us. It was really shocking having to duck under a plank and dunk yourself in the water but I didn't want to get out after it. It was very refreshing and lifted our spirits, and so did the sign that said 2 miles to go that was there too. Running again we came to some streams that we had to cross and cross again and again. We were soon in another water hazard and climbing another muddy bank then onto another 15ft climbing wall. We were told we only had about a mile to go which was great news but as rounded the corner we realised we had THE TUNNEL to do again the other way. As its pitch black in there it's not safe enough to run so as we were walking it gave my knee a chance to rest but my calfs decide to get a touch of cramp. I needed to stretch them out a bit and I got the chance on the steep slope we had to climb at the end of the tunnel. We were close enough to the finish to have spectators cheering us on and they could see I was struggling so cheered my number to pick me up. Which it did and hurdled the next obstacle without any problems. It was really annoying my knee because it was only that, that was slow us down I didn't feel tired too much and my muscles were fine on the obstacles it was just the impact of running on my knee.

With 2 obstacles to go we could hear all the crowds watching the final obstacle and after a couple of walls we could see them too. As we came to the final obstacle, a climb up a man made slippery slope, I saw Sarah-Jane and the boys who had come to see us finish. They had made signs for us and Jessie had one too.

We conquered the last climb and we ran together to the finish line and even sprinted the last 20m. We had done it we had finished it and in a fairly respectable time too, unofficially we had completed it in 2hr20m. Officially we were Yorkshire Warriors it felt brilliant to say that too, we collected our T-Shirts and put them on. The T-Shirts were great they were proper running T-Shirts not like the cotton T-Shirts you usually get, these ones you might actually use again or at least I will on my training runs. We then got congratulatory hugs from Dexter and Clark, and they had been practicing their well done Daddy chants too.

We hung around for a bit to see some of the other Warriors cross the line and to get some food. Then we headed back to the car to get changed out of our muddy and stinky clothes and go home for a shower.

It was a fantastic day and I would certainly do it again next year and recommend it to others too. For a first time event it was set up and run very well indeed, and I can see it being full next year. We thank you Yorkshire warrior and will see you next year.

Keep running Everyone.


  1. Can't believe you remember the whole course, a great review and one we all enjoyed also, marshalls at all obstacles may help next year, proper timing chips and need to think about the bottlenecks, but otherwise thoroughly enjoyable!

    1. I liked the bottlenecks it gave me chance to rest, cheers for reading my blog. It was a good day but they did need a few more marshals.

  2. The detail is very is the fact that the 3 of you did so well. I hope the bones aren't aching too much today. well done. Jx

  3. A great account, Matt and a real achievement. well done all.

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  5. A great account of the day, I am doing the yorkshire warrior this year for the first time!!! Any training tips?? Starting to panic now!!!!

    1. I concentrated on being able to run the distance first but at this point I would just try doing body weight exercises. Press ups, sit ups, burpees, power jumps, etc etc. you get the idea. Don't worry about being super fit and just enjoy it for the fun muddy run that it is.