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Tue 27th Sep 2022
MudMan: view from the sidelines
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 11th December 2012

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Off road regular Jim McConnel ( had to miss lst weekend's Human Race MudMan Duathlon with injury - but that didn't keep him away from Camberley, and having published many reports from Jim's racing over the years, here is his report on an event that hewas watching!

Human Race MudMan 2012 - view from the sidelines

As competitors flocked to the Human Race Mudman circuit just outside Camberley in Surrey last Saturday, it was clear that the race was going to live up to its name. Recent heavy rains have put the fast draining soil under pressure and the course was littered with deep puddles and a layer of slimy mud. Despite a poor forecast the sun shone brightly and lifted the temperature a few degrees above freezing - which brought smiles to just about everyone’s faces.  Perfect winter duathlon weather.

The flag dropped on the 12km Trail Run and the extended pack of runners zoomed and ambled off onto the severely testing course. In my view, Mudman is the most demanding, yet most rewarding course to race on in this series – your heart and legs are pushed to the max, not just once … but over and over again. Kevin Quinn was close to finishing the race in a blisteirng time of 42:07 as the Duathlon racers made their way to the line. Nerves were jangling as last minute stretching was completed, shoes were checked for tight laces, and the best line around the puddles was inspected.

A massive roar of enthusiasm was heard moments before the start as the starter whipped up a frenzy and then what followed was a blur of colour and flying legs .. the herd of 200 racers flowed past in a constant stream and disappeared into the distance on the first of the run sections – 8km along a wide offroad double track. It looks inviting as the first section is flat, but quickly the devilish course starts to whip relentlessly up and down around the army testing area, until you are begging for mercy. It was clear the favorites were going to battle hard from the gun as Doug Hall forged ahead and dragged out a slim lead on the first of the climbs. Jez Cox, Oli Mahony and Phil Westoby were in close attendance, every racer barely managing his or her own extreme effort as they gulped in gallons of chilly air like stranded fish on a beach. Regular front runner Fay Cripps looked in dominant form in the women's race as she held place in the top 20 overall on the first run. The long string of competitors - including Batman and Robin strangely enough - made their way around the course and all received an encouraging shout from the small but enthusiastic crowd as they crested each hilltop before plunging back into the forest.

MudMan 2012

With a promising 30 seconds in hand, Doug Hall danced his way into T1 like the hare, to jump aboard his new all singing Specialized 29er and tear off around the revised 6km bike loop for the first time. The bike course would be three laps in all.. Jez Cox wasn’t far behind and blitzed out of T2 moments ahead of Phil Westoby after over taking him with a speedy transition. These two were the hounds and set off in hot pursuit with what seemed like no regard for their legs which would have to run again … for now it was all about the bike.

Behind the lead men, Fay had opened up a slim lead of 10 seconds over a speedy running Gemma Jones as she entered T1. But as soon as Fay hit the bike, she made her speed and endurance known and started to pull away, looking fresh, and riding just about every section of the gritty and challenging bike course.

Back at the head of the men’s race, Doug was cementing his lead with the fastest bike split and carving his way neatly through the back markers. Ride of the day for me has to go to Ian Kirkpatrick though – who had the third quickest bike split on the day but does need a little work on his running to really get close to the competition. Sadly Paul Davies (third place in Round 1, WildMan) was sidelined from the race with a broken spoke which did other terminal damage to his bike. Other retirements came from Tim McDowell who we hope to see back in the Spring. All around the course many competitors doubted their ability as the course relentlessly pushed them to their limits, but in most cases the crazy thought of going running again, followed by free Lucozade and a hot bath, spurred them on.

MudMan 2012

After dropping his fellow hound, Jez Cox moved clear from a slightly tired looking Phil Westoby and setup the final run to be a game of ‘hang on in there’. It was clear from the leg actions of everyone on that run course during the second run that it had taken its toll, from those out front running with a wooden style, to those further back in the field that had resorted to clambering up each incline one step at a time. Grimacing their way over the top and onwards to the next onslaught with a wry ‘what am I doing look’ on their faces.

At 1hr 44 and 15 seconds an elated Doug Hall crossed the finish line to take the win. Jez and Phil rounded out the podium with strong performances and then the streams of finishers began in earnest. Many struggled to set away from the finish line as they recounted tales of the event to each other – knowing that their neighbor on the line would be feeling the pain and elation in a similar way.

Speaking to eventual second place finisher Jez Cox after the race he mentioned that on some of the ascents ‘it felt quicker to walk for sections using my hands to push down on my knees in an effort to drive on and up over the hills’. I think about 185 other racers know how you feel Jez!

In the women’s race predictably Fay Cripps smashed her way home to finish first woman and 19th overall. The lead was never really in doubt, but Becky Hoare of Army Tri did come through to take second from Gemma Jones with a strong bike and second run leg. Current series contenders Juliette Clark and Samantha Aplin finished to score good points in fourth and fifth which means the overall title race will only hot up from here.

In the men’s event, the series is wide open with two winners from two rounds, and the likely return of a fresh Richard Stannard to the next round is concerning most. Phil Westoby is Mr Consistent with two third places, but time will tell, there’s a long way to go and four races to count.

So, after some three and a bit hours, 186 people had finished the Human Race Mudman for another year. The last race chip cut off, the last bike packed away, the final cup of hot chocolate was served, the porridge wagon shut its door and the slightly out of place London 2012 race tape was removed from the trees. Later as the sun went down, the barriers were collected and the final bits of litter picked. The Human Race Team work as a well drilled outfit to bring you this winter experience, make sure you sign up for the next event in January, ICEman on January 26th - .

See you there, til next time - have a great Christmas!

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