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Getting down and dirty at The Stampede

If someone had told me a couple years ago that this year I would partake in my first obstacle course run, subjecting myself to mud, climbing over walls, crawling through mud that was quite possibly mixed with a good dose of horse poo – I’d have quite seriously questioned their sensibilities.  Damn, if someone had said that to me even six months ago I would have laughed at them.

But here we are, late October 2014 – and TICK!

Without further ado, I bring us to my latest in my series of “fun fitness things to try” – obstacle racing.  Sometimes known as mud runs.  Very, very muddy runs.

The Stampede - 10k, 31 obstacles and a whole lot of mud!

The Stampede – 10k, 31 obstacles and a whole lot of mud!

I have never, ever been so dirty in my whole life – and I have had a mud bath before.  Three days on, I am possibly the most bruised I have ever been in my whole life.  And what a blast it was!

On the weekend I partook in The Stampede, held in the Glenworth Valley, about 45 minutes north of Sydney.  Convinced by a work mate to join in, I found myself facing a 10k course, covering 31 obstacles.  Some of the obstacles were relatively simple – maybe wet & muddy, but not particularly difficult (hopping over creek crossings, or wading your way through mud).  Some of the higher ones were a challenge – climbing up and over a tyre wall that I feel was about 4-5m up, but in reality was probably only about 3 (it felt like a long way up hoisting myself over that to climb back down).

My favourite two obstacles were the rope swing and the giant slip’n’slide.  Rope swing involved swinging on a rope from the top of hill, to cargo net, catch the cargo net & climb down said net (entertaining to watch one of my colleagues get to much height on his swing that he nearly clocked himself on the wooden frame holding the net).  Giant slip’n’slide followed – and as the name suggests, it was a giant slip’n’slide – complete with steep section at the bottom to really launch yourself into the muddy lagoon at the bottom – people were actually getting air born off it.

Climbing over a bus.  As you do.

Climbing over a bus. As you do.

I was glad to have done this with some work mates who were prepared to work as a team – I certainly wouldn’t have made it through if I didn’t get a boost for some of the climbing challenges and a hand up when I got stuck in one of the numerous mud pools.  Although we had two runners in our group of five, they would run to the next obstacle and wait for us slow ones, so we all finished together as a group.

I was pleased to see just how far my fitness has come this year – although I don’t train cardio too much (sprint intervals once a week), I was happy to see that I wasn’t coming in miles behind the runners in the group.  I’ve also found that where the others in the team were complaining about muscle soreness in the following two days, I really wasn’t too bad – although my bruises are quite sore!

Me - before and after

Me – before and after

The bottom line

What: The Stampede

Where: Glenworth Valley, approx 45 minutes north of Sydney (near Gosford) – although as an annual event, possible that it might move around

Would I do it again: Yes!  Was a lot of fun – I am battered and bruised, but really proud of myself for getting through it all.  However, I would only do it though if I had a team to do it with – a lot of those obstacles I would not have been able to get through on my own.  Comments from a few other participants that have done Tough Mudder were that Stampede was a bit more relaxed and fun (think of Stampede as a fun run, versus Tough Mudder being a competitive marathon).  Note to self: don’t even THINK about doing this during comp season – the bruises are pretty messy!  🙂

The bruises were looking a bit shadowy the following day - by two days later were BLACK!

The bruises were looking a bit shadowy the following day – by two days later were BLACK!



Next on my list of ‘fun fitness things to try’: kettlebells.  Now, I’ve done some kettlebells at the gym with my Trainer, but have never spent a full hour working with kettlebells.

I dragged a couple of work mates along to a trial class with Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength for Women at Newington.  We weren’t sure what to expect or how hard we were going to be thrashed.  This is an outdoor class – which was actually fantastic on this particular day as we had one of our first hot days of the season, so was great to be out of the air conditioning.


Photo credit: PT Me Personalised Training

Photo credit: PT Me Personalised Training Uncategorised/kettlebell-introduction-class/228811

The class ended up being far more technical than I had expected – we spend the hour working on technique for dead lifts and kettlebell swings.  I foolishly didn’t snap any pictures, particular of the three of us ‘bumming’ poles in the park – in order for us to understand the idea of breaking at the hips and where our hands should travel on the down side of the swing, we were almost backed up against poles, bending forward till our butts hit the pole and then reaching through behind us to tap the pole with our fingertips.  It really did a great job of putting it in perspective how to do the swing – I have always gone too low when swinging, taking the bell down between my calves almost, rather than swinging through the thighs.  Making that change and getting the technique right made a big difference to how effective the swings were – I really started to feel it in my glutes by the end of the session.

I was feeling the bum and hammies the next day, but I think that was as result of a monster leg session in the morning backed up by kettlebells in the evening!  (Note to self: don’t do that again!)  I did enjoy the swings – I could feel that they were really working the glutes in particular, but were great for the whole body – finishing up with 5 sets of 10 swings, I started to feel it right through the whole posterior chain, into abs, core and shoulders.

At the end of the session we had our trainer, Tania, give us a quick demo of a couple of other things that you can do with kettlebells.  Watching her do a ‘get up’ (just google it!) was pretty damn amazing – particularly as she was doing this with only a 12kg kettlebell and would normally work with at least a 24kg kettlebell.


The bottom line

What: Kettlebell trial class

Where: Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength for Women, Newington

Would I do it again: Yes, as I took a couple of friends along I was offered a freebie and will be heading to one of their regular classes next week.  I also think that I would incorporate some kettlebell swings into my regular gym training – I think that they will do amazing things for the butt!



That's me - second from the right during (unweighted) warm up. Photo credit: Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength

That’s me – second from the right during (unweighted) warm up at the regular Kettlebellas class.
Photo credit: Sydney Kettlebell School of Strength

I went along to one of the Kettlebellas regular classes last week; fabulous!  You really start to feel those swings after 18 sets of 12 swings (first routine = 12 minutes; 12 swings, followed by a short sprint – repeat as many times as you can until you run out of time.  It was tough!).

Totally unlike my normal training, so it really pushed me.  Tania is fabulous, in that she really focuses on good form – even though we were doing a ‘time challenge’ of sorts, she still ensured that we were all working correctly throughout.

Will definitely be working swings into my regular training moving forward – what a great workout!