Eight Point Two

Sheffield Whole Hog 2008
December 16, 2009, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Whole Hog 2008 Series | Tags:

The forecast for the 23rd November (race day) was pretty ominous in the week leading up to the event. The word blizzard was mentioned more than once so we soon decided to adopt a slightly shorter course. It’s never an easy decision to make but what we lost in distance we decided to make up for in effort required. Consequently, the course ended up as being a very wet, boggy and hilly 9km.

The 230 competitors started the race with a steady 1k climb through Hesley woods and down to the beginning of a series of water troughs and streams. The initial stretch thinned out the competitors and the water and mud soon created some gaps! A series of two rope climbs led the competitors back over the Hesley pit plateau and down through the Hog Swamp – (which was as it sounds). Another straight forward 1km led back to the start area and the beginning of the, 2nd, longer lap.

A 30m 3d spider’s web was overcome followed by a stretch of small hills and craters which led to the mini assault course – a series of small climbs, crawls and scrambles. Straight out from this led down to a repeat of the 1st lap water troughs and river crossings followed by a, by now very squelchy, stretch around to the King of the Hill climb which had the racers gasping for breath even by the half way point. A rope was in place but it still required a great amount of effort!

The route now dropped back down through a long picturesque section which led gradually back up to the plateau. This ‘gentle’ section was soon interrupted with another mud slide down, then back up, towards the last of the ‘muddy’ challenges – the hog Pit. This years pit was fashioned from a 50m long trench that had been excavated prior to the event. Waist deep mud and water was waded through quickly followed by an uphill stretch to another mini obstacle course. One short loop was followed by the final obstacle of the day – the ski run – a 30 m long tarpaulin liberally sprinkled with washing up liquid which the competitors had to slide upwards on!

Another 200m and it was Hog Roasts and hot soup at the finishing line!

This year’s event was a truly gruelling affair for the competitors (and the event organisers) but the true Hog spirit shone through.

Thanks to all the competitors and all of the 22 volunteer marshals from 7th Dronfield Explorer group.


Wantisden Valley 2008 Whole Hog
December 16, 2009, 3:33 pm
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I’m pleased to report that this year’s event certainly had a few surprises for the 240 competitors who took part in the race.

The three course planners, myself (Ian Loombe), Ian Bliss and Stuart Anderson decided that we wanted to have a theme for this years event – this soon became obvious as Ian Bliss and I drew upon our old experiences in the Royal Marines. During training in the Marines you have to run a water based obstacle course called the Endurance Course. 2 miles of water filled tunnels followed by a 4 mile run back to camp – the ‘highlight’ of this being a duck under a water filled pipe. With all of this in mind we went about recreating the horror of the endurance course for the 2008 Hog Run. Hopefully the competitors weren’t disappointed with our creation!

Almost 12km was covered over track field and bog. The start was the normal thinning out exercise which we have to do to avoid large bottlenecks. Consequently competitors started with a quick gallop through the sandy hummocks and then bashed there way through the undergrowth to emerge with a 1km run to the first real obstacle. The ”tunnel of love’, as we nicknamed it, was an 8m long tunnel filled with mud (and whoever knows what). The tunnel was darkened by placing sheets over each end just to add to the experience.

One of the highlights of the day, for me, was in approaching the tunnel and listening to the howls of disgust from the competitors as they waded through.

Out of this tunnel led to another km of field running which then led to another quick crawl and, shortly after, the torpedo tube climb.

Another 1 ½ km of running through beautiful woodland led to one of the main event areas – a quick crawl under a JCB followed by a rope climb out of the bomb hole soon led to another 20m crawl shortly followed by one of the highlights of the day (for the spectators). The torpedo tubes were needed to cross a small stretch of lake but this was just a ploy because soon the runners were in the water up to their necks! The piglet option was a wade across the lake followed by an up and over on the pontoons – the full hog experience was to take a deep breath and duck under the pontoons which was certainly good for clearing your head!

Out of the lake and a short jog led to another deceptive stream crossing – earlier in the week Ian Bliss and I had ran the course to test it out (and yes – we do test everything to make sure its not too hideous) and had been surprised by this crossing. I had guessed it to be about knee deep – but soon found out that was just where the mud started and below it was another 3 feet of bog. I nearly lost one of my trainers but managed to squeeze it out before it was sucked off!

From this area another few km’s of running led to a short wall climb followed by another 3 river crossings – again much neck deep wallowing was required to escape from this area. A swift trot through the maize fields led to the final obstacle – a complex 3D rope maze. From here it was just a short jaunt over the finishing line for Hog roasts and beer.

It was a great day and a big thank you to all of the competitors and also to the many marshals’ who helped out. Thanks to you all – I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. The date for 2009 has already been confirmed for the 1st November and we are aiming to incorporate Bentwaters Park for that event so watch this space!

Alton Boss Hog 2008
December 16, 2009, 3:32 pm
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A brief dash around the meadow led down on to the overflow car park which was now overflowing with foot high grass! A 1 1/5 km circuit was punctuated by the first serious obstacle of the day which was a  crawl under a 30 metre net which was then followed by a low tree climb and then a scramble through a ‘grab’ ropes course. More grass galloping was needed to get out of the meadow.

The course now winded down hill to ‘the tunnel’. 20 metres long and, (just) big enough when you are on all fours! Not great for claustrophobic’s but there were only a few refusals who took the piglet option of a 2 minute time penalty! Off your knees then down to the boggy trench – no refusals but there were a few lost shoes in the sucking mud.

The course now winded down through meadows and finally up to Alton castle. A short rope climb led in to the castle’s crypt. Pitch black and 50 metres long the passage winds through the basement of the building before emerging out back in to daylight again. A low ropes course led back under the castle and up again on a steep rope climb!More beautiful wooded tracks led on to the next series of obstacles: a collection of ‘up and over’ beams and climbs.

It was down hill now for a 1 ½ km fast stretch to the next activity area. The rivers were the main attraction here and the competitors were in and out of the river battling the current and tired legs.

Another 1 km stretch of flat track led up hill then very steeply up hill on fixed ropes to emerge at the last challenge which was another low ropes course. A gentle up hill section of 500 m followed to the finish line where weary legs were allowed to rest at last!

All in, the entire course was just over 7 miles long and had a great diversity of hills, bog and river!

With just under a 100 competitors it was an excellent day for all – even those who lost their shoes in the mud. Many thanks to all of the competitors and to Alton Towers and Alton Castle for the kind use of their facilities.

Dates are already set for 2009 so see you there next year for a bigger and better course!