student life

What I learned from the Born Survivor challenge

I don’t know how I did it, but I did it. I survived.

I don’t know how I did it, but I did it. I survived. Running along 6.2 miles of cruciating hills, diving through rivers and crawling over woodland to complete the mighty Born Survivor last weekend.

6.2 miles? well, come on that’s only 10k, I bet you could run 10k in your sleep? Maybe, after all a nice untimed jaunt in the Lake District sounds wonderful, perhaps even idyllic?

It’s just a 10k run
Arriving on site we are handed a goody bag full of tattoos, our event t-shirts, discount codes and some very tasty 9 bars. A walk through the site led us to a stage where a well-oiled personal trainer led us through a vigorous warm up (note: push-ups on top of gravel is not fun) which ensured everybody was smiling and happy prior to joining the start queue. We were on the first wave (thinking let’s get it over with) and all starters were nicely spread out to avoid congestion, this also which meant the course was fresh and there was no waiting around. After some cautionary safety instructions a remix of Paggio for Strings was played, reminding me of a days in Ibiza and building my excitement to a crescendo. 
3, 2, 1…Go
And so it begins. As is usually accustomed to races everybody flies off at the start, I guessed I was running a nice pace but one glance behind my shoulder soon told me that I was in fact, last. A feeling a dread moved in my stomach, worrying how my teammates would take to having to wait for me. There was no reason to worry, within seconds we had caught the stream of people running as we approached the first obstacle. Oh yes, this is not only a 10k run over gruelling terrain but this course is also intermingled with 40, yes 40, obstacles designed by Royal Marines.
Our first obstacle involved climbing into a skip, a skip filled with rather shivery cold water. Once in the skip it was necessary to get past two poles wedged inside. This involved being fully submerged in water. As our freezing limbs negotiated exiting the skip at the other side our minds prepared to do it all again; skip number two. Spraying water in all directions we then tread into the muddy fields and onto the next challenge; through the piping (commando crawl) into a what can only be described as a giant pig muck sludge pond complete with barbed wire. 
To make one thing perfectly clear, Born Survivor is not a place for make-up, hair spray, fancy shoes or even tidy hair (although I do deeply envy those ladies that managed to look good despite the mud). Within minutes of starting the course you are covered from head to toe in thick oozy mud and very cold water. 
The Killer K
Lots of running and negotiating water slides (see it’s not all hard work) later and we reached the Killer K. So called because this kilometre contains ten obstacles on a hill, zigzagged between each other. Up and down, up and down, crawling, climbing, lots of slipping and carrying logs later we made it to the end of that section. Yet this was small fish compared to our jaunt through the woods where we came face to face with a 10 foot wall. This is really where teamwork comes into it- there is no ladder, no steps, no ledges, just a flat, smooth and shiny vertical wall to get over. After drying off a bit from the skips session I was soaked once at the monkey bars after slipping and falling into the icy water below. Beyond this more rat tunnels with mud and barbed wire, river crossing then crossing under a river to ensure that we were fully submerged and gasping for breath.
We followed the river taking on mud, mud and more mud before jumping back in the river to waist height and wading through it in a trench. Finally the end was in sight, with 38 obstacles down there were only two left. A backwards wall which again required team work to concur and finally another dip in a skip, rope climb,and rope drop into freezing water. At this point my legs had given up, they throbbed with the cold but I used every ounce of energy I had to pull myself out of the muddy water and up onto the finisher ramp. My team finished together, we all worked our butts off and helped each other (some, like me, needing more help than others). A quick pose for photos and we crossed the finish line. Job done. 
The Bottom Line…or bottom of the bottle
There are things in life we do because we have to, others, we do because we can do. Born Survivor is a can do. Six months ago when I reluctantly signed up, I had no idea what I was capable of. I’ve crawled through tunnels, climbed 8ft walls, carried logs up hills, thrown myself down steep drops, swam through rivers, conquered my fear of confined spaces and developed a fear of heights. The best thing about Born Survivor or other exhilarating physical challenges like this is that you get a chance to be somebody else for the day, somebody who is the best and worst of yourself.
I am still wearing my dog tag (contestants only get this after completing the course) and am wearing it with pride. Participants don’t need to be fitness freaks, for determination and teamwork will get you through. 
I have two pieces of advice.
1) Sign up and challenge yourself, for what is life about if not getting out of ones comfort zone?
2) Look after yourself after the workout. A bottle of champagne in a dehydrated and hungry body is not a good idea as I told the grass which I dive bombed, head first into.
In the classic words of Nike: ‘Just Do It.’
Tempted? The next Born Suvivor challange at Lowther Castle is in April.