Having done a fair few obstacle races in the past including Tough Mudder, it was refreshing yet slightly unnerving that the guys behind the latest race on the scene, Judgement Day, decided to give very little away in terms of what we were to expect during the event.
All I knew was that I was going to cover approximately ten miles of terrain littered with a variety of obstacles designed to push competitors to their limits, including obstacles normally reserved for the British Military!
Rocking up to the race HQ which was located in the heart of the FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Areas) village, brought on an air of nostalgia as I was transported back to my time as an Air Cadet and the various training weekends I went on in similar locations. It also generated a buzz of excitement as I saw a number of obstacles unlike any I’d previously experienced in other obstacle races.
Being a brand new event, the start was far less chaotic than usual with waves of only about 100 people a time and it wasn’t long before I was penned into the starting area, preparing to set off on what would be a body breaking ten miles.
Straight away I knew I’d find this race difficult. The terrain was very hilly and I hadn’t really done any cross country distance running to prepare but nevertheless, I tackled the first few obstacles including a few basic fence jumps, some scaffolding monkey bars, a kilometre tyre carry and a commando crawl under some wet netting.
Then came the standard “four walls” which ranged from four to ten feet tall, the latter requiring the help of a fellow runner to boost you over as there were virtually no hand holds.
Just before the half way point in the race, there came a tyre flip challenge, where you had to flip a tyre six times, which weighed in the region of 80-100kg. Luckily I’ve done some events in the past with this element in so it wasn’t too bad, though I did see it catch a few competitors out!
As I grabbed some water at the half way point, I was already concerned by how much the course was taking its toll on my body, with my knees and hips in particular starting to give me some trouble. However, the worst of it was still to come and blissfully unaware of what lay in wait, I pressed on across the expansive terrain of the Salisbury Plains…
After conquering a few more obstacles including a concrete block carry and a barbed wire crawl through some testicle retreating water, I was faced with the soon to be infamous sandbag carry!
They weren’t joking when they hinted that the sandbag would be around 30kg and you’d have to carry it over a mile in distance but what they failed to mention was that you’d also have obstacles to complete including a rope & ladder climb and also a memory test, which was sadistic to say the least! I’m not sure how long the sandbag carry took but it felt like an eternity and my entire body was screaming at me to put it down, but I battled on and eventually got to the drop off point, where I felt sorry for the competitors just arriving to collect their bag.
The rest of the course leading back into the village contained more of the same, including more wall climbs, a tyre drag, more testicle retreating water crawls and bizarrely some sandbag back squats, but it was the hilly terrain that was really taking it’s toll on my weary legs!
I was really running on empty by the time I’d reached the outskirts of the FIBUA village. The excitement of nearing the finish and taking on the main attraction of Judgement Day managed to give me the lift I needed to take on the remaining obstacles.
After navigating some disused railway carriages and burnt out helicopters, I was instructed to do five burpee pull-ups before heading towards the first of the village obstacles.
First up was a concrete wall climb that a helpful marshall aided me with, followed by a ladder climb up into a second story window. I’m not usually great with heights and confined spaces but I think I was so fatigued that I ploughed on through the next few obstacles without giving it too much thought.
After climbing down a drainpipe, back through the window of the next building and up the stairs to the second story window, I was faced with two girders that you had to cross to gain access to the next building. I had been dreading this one all day but I got on with it without hesitation and even stopped for a posed photo midway across. The next obstacle, a drop into the pitch black of the first floor below was a different story though and I actually bailed on it before gaining my composure and dropping into the unknown!
A rope climb up the next building and onto the roof of the next, I was faced with a pitch black network of sewage tunnels. I’m not kidding when I say you could see absolutely nothing in those tunnels, I even turned my camera off as there was no point in recording the nothingness ahead of me. I didn’t think about it too much and managed to crack on until eventually I made it out the otherside.
The finish was almost in site with just a few obstacles left including a climb through the rafters of a barn and the infinity jump which I cleared with ease and even chucked in a parkour front roll for show! One more crawl and two more tunnel crawls were all that was left between me and the finish line.
I usually like to sprint finish any race I do, except on this occassion I had nothing in the tank and so I sauntered across the line to collect my finishers medal and t-shirt, before posing for one last photo and retreating to the sanctuary of the changing area.
The marshall’s on the day were great and the organisation was fantastic. The race medal and t-shirt were good quality and the fact official race photos will be free is also a nice touch.
Overall, I really enjoyed Judgement Day. It offered a genuine challenge and some unique experiences that I urge anyone with an interest in obstacle racing to check out!
Judgement Day Links