Thinking of running a Nordic Race? You got this.
Yesterday had one of the toughest, but best experiences of my life to date. Just one year into my Danish adventure and I did something that would have been unthinkable to my slothenly London-self: I completed the Nordic Race.
For those living outside of Denmark, Nordic Race is an obstacle course similar to Tough Mudder. Yesterday I found myself gritting my teeth around a 5km course that was peppered with 30 different obstacles that ranged from the manageable (think crawling under barbed wire, and running with buckets of sand), to the downright beastly (rope climbs and swimming through freezing water).
I was signed up to the race in a team along with 9 other friends from work. We signed up several months ago, at which point I don’t think I’d challenged myself with any form of physical exercise for a couple of years, and then duly proceeded to bury my head in the sand about how tough it was actually going to be. At the turn of the new year, when reality hit about the kinds of things we would actually have to do set in, I finally decided to get my butt into gear and get in shape.
Cue 4.5 months of hardcore training anywhere between 4-5 times a week. As I started to see results and do things I never thought I would be able to I became more and more addicted to pushing the limits of what I thought my body was capable of. Suddenly, and to my absolute joy and surprise, I found myself….ahem….looking forward to the Nordic Race.
After months and months of moaning about how hard and tough it was going to be, deep down I was now mentally pumped and ready to push myself and see what this bod of mine could do on race day.
That adrenaline soon took a big fat nose dive when I arrived on the day itself. I got there with around 90 minutes to spare before our start time, which I spent walking around the course watching other runners attempt to master the gruelling course. That initial excitement I felt gave way to a totally overwhelming fear and anxiety… what in God’s name had I gotten myself into???
Over the course of those 90 minutes I got so inside my head. SO many thoughts of “I can’t do this”, “I’m going to hurt myself” and “Everyone will laugh at me” completely took over, to such an extent that when the race actually began and I hit my first major challenge (I slid all the way down from the top of a wall, winding myself pretty badly), I had a huge anxiety attack, started hyperventilating, and almost walked off the course.
But then something more incredible happened than anything I could have expected from the day. My phenomenal team mates rallied around me, got me back on my feet, and stayed by my side every step of the way throughout the race. I’ve never, ever experienced team work like it, and it gave me all the boost I needed to get out of my head, believe in myself again, and hit the rest of the course with all the grit I had.
As a team we pushed and pulled each other through each of the obstacles. We kept each other calm, we shouted encouragement at each other when one of us was faltering, and we were behind each other every single step of the way to catch one another before we had a chance to fall.
I was doing one of the obstacles I was most looking forward to - The Atlas Stone - but, after 25 obstacles my arms and legs were shot and I managed to get the stone stuck between the ledge and my diaphragm, making it hard to breath. Before I knew it my team mate Lue came in behind me and helped me push that massive fucking stone onto the ledge and pepped me up ready for the home straight. That’s a kind of unspoken teammanship I’ve never experienced before, and it just made me feel so proud and part of something. Every leg up over a wall, every word of encouragement when I was afraid, every hand reaching down to grab me up - all of that built my adrenaline up to an unbelievable high.
I’ve never hugged and thanked so many people in one day, but truly, if it wasn’t for the 9 people by my side I wouldn’t have gotten through that course, and more to the point, I wouldn’t have wanted to get through it without them even if I could.
We came over the finish line after 1h 18minutes, battered, bruised, tired but really freaking proud.
Now the day is over and I’ve had time to digest the awesomeness of what we did, I just honestly can’t wait to see what else I can do to push myself even further. We’ve already made a pact to sign up for another Nordic Race in August, and this morning I signed up for a 10k later on in the year (after having told myself my whole life that I can’t run but then getting my 5km time down to under 30mins, I think it’s now time to prove to myself that I can).
Nordic Race has been by far one of the toughest but best things I have ever done. As the 1 year mark of my move to Denmark approaches (just one week to go!), I’m struck by just how much not only my life has changed, but how much I have changed too. I believe in myself more than I ever have, I want to take on more challenges, and test the limits of what I thought was possible. I am facing my anxieties, fears, and feelings of being ‘less than’ every day, and Nordic Race was the perfect embodiment of all of that.
So, seriously - if you want a challenge that will push and reward you in equal measure: grab a team of the finest people you know and sign up for an OCR race this year. Who knows, you might just surprise yourself and have an amazing time…