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More fun and mud at the Mighty Deerstalker

Written by Fiona March 20 2011

Last night was the annual Mighty Deerstalker. This is my fourth (or maybe fifth?!) time taking part in the bonkers event and despite very little running training (I’ve been concentrating on cycling and swimming lately) I scored a PB and was 8th lady home. For an old “deer” like me I’m really chuffed by my time of 1hr 44min.

The night-time off-road 10k (more like 15k!) was just as mad as ever. Two serious hill climbs (one up tough scree), several river crossings, mud and more mud, steep descents, limbo-esque obstacles and a whole lot more silliness add up to a really brilliant race and one that takes everyone by surprise.

For most old-timers the aim is to beat last year’s time – and to remind yourself that this is a fun race. This was the G-Force’s second Deerstalker and he had a race plan: Go like the clappers at the start, push it up the first hill and try to stay ahead of as many people as possible. This is a sensible tactic if you want to avoid being caught in a queue of participants when you reach the narrow uphill paths. At these sections you can only go as fast as the man (or sometimes woman!) in front. I didn’t go quite as fast as the G-Force at the very start but for most of the first half of the race I could see him 10 to 20 metres ahead of me. (I quite like going as slow as the man in front because it gives my legs a rest!)

We had discussed running the event together but I didn’t want to hold the G-Force back. However I was also aware that the long stretch of river that has to be tackled around half way through the race is much, much easier done as a pair. The water is quite deep in places and the boulders on the bottom are very slippery. With a partner to hold on to the 100m water dash is a lot less arduous.

So you can imagine how delighted I was to see the G-Force waiting (he reckoned he waited about 5 seconds!) at the river bank, ready to partner me through the water. Sweet man! After the river crossing I caught glimpses of him ahead but only until his legs had thawed out (the river water is icy cold) and then he was off like a, well, er, a stag! The G-Force finished in a great time of 1hr 41 mins. I staggered in a few minutes later.

Meanwhile, for Deerstalker newbies the goal is to simply make it to the finish. You either totally love this race and come back year after year, or you do it once, tick the box that says “been there, done that bonkers event” and never return. I reckon there will be a high percentage of returners.

Tri club pal, Totally Cool Christine was a newbie. She did a fab 2hrs 22 mins and will be back next year. “Really tough. Much harder than a half marathon. But brilliant fun,” said TCC after the event and with a pint of lager in her hand! TCC has signed herself up all kinds of races this year and seems to be totally cool and up for any kind of madness. It’s fab to find other women who are keen to take part in outdoors activities and events.

A pal of the G-Force, now known as Daredevil Dave, took 3hrs 15 mins (and he swears he only did each hill once!). He wasn’t sure if he’d be back again next year. “Really hard. Nightmare. Exhausting,” he muttered into his latest pint of lager.  Then, an hour or so later, he started talking about start line tactics. He quizzed the G-Force and I about where we started, how we got ahead of the crowds, where we slowed down on the race course. It sounds to me as if Daredevil Dave will be joining us again in 2012!

The winning female was also a first timer, although being a member of Bingley Harriers in Yorkshire clearly stood her in good stead.  Ally Raw finished in a brilliant 1hr 34 mins – and she’s just about to turn 48. That’s a great win for another old “deer” – and great inspiration for me as I charge through my 40s. Ally and the group of Harriers will be back again next year, “for sure”, and with even more Harriers, they told me.

The winning stag Donald Naylor did a fantastic 1hr 16 min. John Walker also deserves a mention. He’s an Old Stag (over 50) and took 3rd place overall (beating most of the young stags) in 1hr 19 min.

Anyway, the Deerstalker is well worth checking out if you’re up for a run that’s a bit on the mad side. The post-race tent party is also good fun. And it’s there that most people find themselves talking about signing up to do the event again next year (after swearing just three drinks before that they would never do it again. Ever.).

I have been trying out my new video camera this weekend so here are a few post-race films. (I’m sure my technique will improve with time!).

G-Force after the Mighty Deerstalker

The post-race “demolished” car interior

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