Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

I survived!

Written by Fiona December 07 2009

It’s not exactly the latest news as I took part in the Survival of the Fittest event some weeks ago but here’s the write up that appeared in the Daily Record recently. As one “friend’ said: “Aye, Fi, you look like you’ve just run a 10k!” Which I had – but this was a tough 10k with obstacles and by the time the photos were being taken all my beautiful make-up (not!) had run. I laughed and giggled my way around this event and would thoroughly recommend it. Here’s what appeared.

By Fiona Russell

I CAN’T decide if it was the huge waterslide, the urban jungle or the inflatable assault course that made me laugh the most.

Then again, I’m trying to figure out if it was the thigh-sapping climb up the 130 steps of Jacob’s Ladder or the 8ft-high Wall of Fame that made me want to cry the most.

For more than an hour, I ran, climbed, jumped, slid, jogged, swung and walked the wackiest 10k race I have ever seen.

And I was not alone. More than 1500 other brave competitors took to the streets of Edinburgh to compete in the inaugural Scottish Survival of the Fittest.

Setting off in six groups throughout the morning, the 1318 men and 195 women were challenged by a hilly course of winding, cobbled streets, steep alleyways and off-road trails.

Then at every 1k, competitors faced an obstacle zone, ranging from fun and inventive to tricky and tough.

My favourite was a long hillside waterslide that took me by surprise halfway around the course in sunny Holyrood Park.

Although it left me with a wet butt for the rest of the race, I giggled loudly as I descended the slippery, plastic sheeting.

A playground-style assault course at the top of Calton Hill also made me smile as I tackled a rope swing, monkey bars and climbing frames – and crawled under cargo nets.

For friends Zoe Hill and Louise Gregory, who had travelled up for the event from the south of England, it was the inflatable assault course in the Royal Mile that had them in stitches.

Working as a pair, they just managed to lift and pull each other over the high walls of the bouncy-castle style obstacle.

Louise, who crossed the finish line with her pal in 1hr 43 min, said: “I’m not really what you would call a runner, but I’m thoroughly enjoying this mad event.”

Meanwhile, David Venables, who was running with colleagues from Intercell Biomedical, of Livingston, reckoned the urban jungle obstacle at the top of Tolbooth Wynd at the 4k point was the best. David, who came 50th overall in a time of 51 mins 16 secs, said: “We had to climb through two old cars, heading in through the back window, over the seats, out the front window and over the bonnet.

“As a child I always fancied climbing over old bangers. Now I’ve had the chance to act like a kid during a race.

“I’ve never come across a 10k race that is as silly and fun as this one.”

Race director Gary Tompsett, of Scotland-based Details Events, had promised Edinburgh a “rollercoaster of an event”.

It was in 2008 that the first Survival of the Fittest took place in Nottingham.

This year, the event, in association with Men’s Health magazine, became a tri-nations series with new races in Scotland, and Cardiff in Wales.

GARY said: “We knew from our previous Edinburgh events, such as the urban rat race, that the natural topography of the city’s old town, with its cobbled streets and ancient steps, would make a great location for a rollercoaster of a 10k.

“Coupled with energy-sapping obstacles every kilometre, we believe the Edinburgh Survival of the Fittest is the most spectacular and hilliest city-based 10k – and also surely the most agonising.”

Certainly by six kilometres, after negotiating a Spider’s Web and before being doused by two firefighters with hoses, I was starting to feel the pain.

And one kilometre further on, a long ascent and descent of countless stairs inside the Festival Fun building pummelled the last shreds of energy from my thighs and calves.

Then, settling for an exhausted jog, I headed towards obstacle eight, the Under Armour Royal Mile Challenge, for further all-over-body punishment.

If that wasn’t enough, the final two kilometres involved a parkour urban gymnastic zone and yet another winding hill.

And that was before I came face-to-face with the Men’s Health Wall of Fame.

Situated just a few strides from the finish line in West Princes Street Gardens, every participant was required to tackle the towering wall while hundreds of spectators looked on.

If it had not been for the welcome “leg-up” assistance of a fellow competitor, I might still be standing at the bottom looking up.

Even the guys found the 8ft wall a challenge. One, 6ft 2in Jules Robson, director of male grooming and lifestyle website Urban Tonic, said: “It wasn’t until you were actually close up to the obstacle that you realised the height of it.

“I’m quite tall but I still needed to use a lot of effort to get up and jump down the other side.

“The reward though was to see the finish line only metres away.”

According to Claire Matthews, of Men’s Health, the Survival of the Fittest aims to show the public that fitness can be fun. She said: “We want to promote the benefits of exercise and keeping a healthy body and mind.

“The Edinburgh event is proof that running a 10k can be a great deal of fun – for both men and women.”

The photograph as I crossed the finish line in 1hr 3min shows I am smiling ear-to-ear.

I can’t decide if this was thanks to the joy – or pure relief – of finally finishing the madcap event.

THE FACTS AND FIGURES First Male in the Edinburgh Survival of the Fittest event was Matthew Sutherland in 44 mins 23 secs. First female, and 81st overall, was Fiona Thompson in 53:04.

Dale Platt ran all three Survival of the Fittest races and came second in Edinburgh in a time of 44 mins 48 secs.

The average time for a woman in the Edinburgh race was 1hr 19 mins.

The average time for a man was 1hr 9 mins.

13 per cent of competitors were female.

A person weighing 10st will burn around 650 calories running a 10k.

Running the Survival of the Fittest 10k burns hundreds more calories – thanks to the range of obstacles.

The Survival event also offers a complete all-body workout with numerous obstacles giving upper and lower body muscle benefits.
1 of 1

More Like This


Historical landmarks of the Golden Triangle – A journey through time, taste and tranquillity


Six new sports you might like to try


Cycling on the Black Isle


Cycle Aviemore to Inverness


Pawel Cymbalista sets Rob Roy Way FKT


Online safety tips to protect your data while you travel