The recent wet weather in the South of England added a certain piquancy to the watery obstacles in the Brutal Run Series event at Pyestock, Hampshire on Saturday (15 June). More than 350 runners were testing the efficiency of their laundry systems after the latest clash with nature that defines the ethos of becoming a 'Brutaleer'.
Brutal races are seriously tough trail events featuring completely natural obstacles designed to test you physically and mentally. The Pyestock Wood course – one lap for 5K and two for the full 10K – starts with an innocuous run to the dry Zig Zag Gully and down to a small switch-back hill. But don't be fooled, this is just the appetiser for what's to come!
Next up is the muddy trail, through the Lily Pond to get nice and wet before three more hills. Then it's a wade through the elephant grass, forge the shallow river and onto a boggy section and linear marsh – a long, wet channel which gets deeper as the race progresses.
First of those for whom one lap was sufficient punishment was Simon Farrington of Team Brutal, who managed 5:05 per kilometre for 25:23. Dave Proctor (Winchester, 25:49) and Max Parr (Aldershot, 26:09) also stayed ahead of the first woman, Tamsin Hunt (Frensham, 27:19). Sarah Rollins (30:32) and Jocie Hilton (Southern Navigators, 31:11) also made the top ten.
There were 236 runners who decided to sample the delights of the course twice in the 10K race. It was a race, too, as six seconds separated Tristram Murdoch (Portsmouth Outdoor Fitness, 47:30) and Phil Young (Lightwater, 47:36) as both somehow managed 4:45 kilometre pace. Ian Plumb (Bracknell Forest Runners, 48:09) had the best view of the battle for victory.
If the men's race was close the women's title was in doubt until the final soggy strides. Samantha Godfrey (Surbiton, 59:06) prevailed by two seconds over Billie-Leigh Roberts (Portsmouth Outdoor Fitness) as both joined the 19 finishers inside the hour. Louise Crozier (Southampton, 64:02) completed the podium.