This was the inaugural run for the unique Hell on the Harbourside event. This challenge included a run around Whitehaven harbour and up to Mount Pleasant and back for the tough course and including an extra length to Haig Pit for the La'al bit tougher course. This would be taxing enough normally, but the catch was that there was also over a dozen obstacles to overcome as well.
The challenge started off on the Lime Tongue by the Crow's Nest structure and was organised into 4 separate waves of runners to help space them out and reduce congestion at obstacles.
The first obstacle was provided by the local fire brigade and was named the power shower which ensured the contestants didn't overheat as they were thoroughly soaked by water from a fire hose.
They next ran down to the end of the Sugar Tongue before returning to the hub where the Stix drumming group were providing a bit of rhythm.
Next there was a long running leg to the Golden Sands in the outer harbour where crowds gathered round the walls to see the next set of trials.
Obstacles here included running through the shallow water at low tide and crawling through a splash pool covered in netting.
There was also quite a bit of crawling through sand traps trying not to get too much in the bits that would chafe later on.
If running on wet sand wasn't tiring enough the next obstacle would get them tyred. Not only did they have to pick their way through various sizes of tyres but also jump or climb over two hurdles made of tyres.
The environment of Whitehaven harbour provided its own difficulties as they had to scramble up the sloping harbour wall back to the old fort.
The old fort wall had then to be scaled, more or less exactly as it was by John Paul Jones back in 1778, with people having to help each other clamber over the top.
After another run along the harbour side the next natural barrier that truly separated the men from the boys or the women from the girls was a climb up mount steps. At this stage only the fittest managed to run all the way to the top with the majority walking or even stopping and puffing.
The first man to the top was so far ahead that no other competitors were in sight as he approached the next challenge and so he was rewarded with a clear ascent unhindered by other people.
Nylon sheeting had been laid on the already steep bank up to the old Duke Pit fan house making it hard to gain purchase with the feet. So, helpfully, a rope had been placed to enable competitors to haul themselves up, but this was hindered by more nylon netting. At times they looked like fish writhing inside a trawl net.
If runners weren't exhausted by this stage, then before they reached the Candlestick, they had to run up and down the nearby steep field several times. The route then split into two with the Tougher crowd going on to Haig Pit, and the others descending back to the harbour on the South Beach side.
If they thought it was a quick dash to the finish lines then they were in for a shock. All along the prom, in the home straight, was another set of barriers to completion. The first was a pair of corrugated plastic drainage pipes that were uncomfortable to climb through.
Then, as legs were turning to jelly, another series of tyres had to be navigated, with crowds of people along the Millennium Promenade cheering the runners on.
The most unique obstacle came next in the form of two giant lobster pots that had been especially constructed to form the penultimate problem.
As with the real thing they were rather easier to get into than get out of, but the camaraderie that builds from shared endurance often provided a helping hand for those getting too tired to function efficiently.
In the final 100 yards sprint to the line was a pair of high hurdles, at which even Colin Jackson would have hesitated, as they were solid and more the height of a fence in the Grand National.
The fittest just vaulted over them but everyone found some way of struggling over aided by the adrenaline provided by the finish line just yards away.
Once over the line goody bags were handed out containing energy replenishing snacks and drinks whilst the challenge participants queued for their all important Hell on the Harbourside T-shirts.
Hell on the Harbourside was a non-profit event and so any money left over after staging costs was donated to Cash for Kids or the Air Ambulances
The whole event seemed to be such a success that hopefully it will be repeated next year with probably even more entrants and spectators - something certainly to look forward to, although there is a similar event this August, on the 25th, called Beach Bash at St. Bees.
© WAWL 2013
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