Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
Farewell Muscle Acre
This week I read the sad news on Facebook that the Muscle Acre team have not managed to find a new venue and as a result have decided that the November Mud Slog was their final Muscle Acre event. Any regular reader of this column will know of the love I had for Muscle Acre so it’s no huge surprise that I’m really sad to see this event shut down. I am sure that the reasons behind the decision are valid and not taken lightly but, nonetheless, I wish things were different. Having seen how well the Muscle Acre team ran their events I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll hear of them but for the moment I wish them all the very best. In memory of all the great times I had at Muscle Acre, I thought I’d share my 5 favourite Muscle Acre moments.
1. The First One
My first Muscle Acre was a bit lonely really. The first proper OCR I’d done after Tough Guy and I went on my own because I didn’t know anyone who wanted to do OCR (or didn’t think I was stupid) and so when I arrived far too early I whiled away the time by walking around the car park. Yes, it was pathetic. But, the race was great and for a while near the start of the race (up the hill near the monkey bars for those who know the course) I was following this bald feller. Now this chap, he could really move and he dropped me after a bit, but I remembered what it said on the back of his shirt, and when I came to find an OCR team (to cut down on the solo car park walking warm up technique) RAW were the ones I knew I was meant to join. The man was Mark Storey, he’s a mate to this day and I still can’t keep up with him, but we do race for the same team now.
2. The Cold One
In January 2016 I ran the Muscle Acre Winter Warmer with the intention of making sure my cold weather kit was up to snuff for Tough Guy, which was a week later. It was very cold, there was snow and ice everywhere and though my kit did what it was supposed to do, I was freezing the whole time. Combining that with a course that can be tough at the best of times and it was a hard race. I knew I’d be fine at Tough Guy if I could deal with that. It turns out I was more correct that I could imagine. Tough Guy a fortnight later was toasty warm in comparison and I boiled in my carefully tested cold weather kit. So that was the year Muscle Acre was colder that Tough Guy.
3. The Fast One
When I started the Summer Madness in July 2017 I knew I had a good pair of legs that day. In fine Muscle Acre tradition they threw us into a set of hill slaloms and and I just felt fast, I munched them right up and proceeded to tear my way round the course with abandon. Coming off the course I felt even better and was super pleased with my performance and time. There’d been a few new wrinkles to the course and I’d really enjoyed them, everything was working just fine. I was even more pleased when my friend Becky pointed out that with my time and membership of the over 40s class I may even have have qualified for the 2018 European Championships. I had indeed qualified and went on to run at the Euros in Denmark the following year, which was an amazing experience.
4. The Slow One
The year before had been a different story. In 2016 I came to the Summer Madness a week after a thoroughly punishing Spartan race and, more importantly, 2 days after touching down from the West Coast of the USA. I was tired, messy and in no fit state. I was slow and I stayed at the back but I spent the race chatting to some lovely people as we enjoyed the sunshine and the mud and had a grand old time. I learned here that it does not have to be 100% about smashing the best time in.
5. The First One with Logan
I always knew Logan’s first race would be Muscle Acre but perhaps I should have started with the Summer Madness not the Mud Slog. It was a crisp November morning (i.e. cold) and as soon as he hit the skips he disintegrated. I’d been creative with his birth date when entering him so he was a year younger than the youngest on the field, but he did it. The Mini Muscle Makers is a good 2 miles with some hill work thrown in and he ran the whole course despite being freezing cold and more than a little bit upset. I’m proud of my kids whatever they do but that day I thought my heart would burst when I crossed the finish line with him. It’s one thing to go back and conquer your demons (which he did) but to pick yourself up there and then and start fighting back was pretty special to see.
So there you have it, a selection of the many happy memories I have from the Muscle Acre. I hope that Kev and the team succeed in the next thing they do and I am sure they will, it is sad that for the moment Muscle Acre is over, but it’s hard to be too sad with so many great times to reminisce over.