|'Sniper Alley' or the more aptly named 'Turkey shoot'. Photo courtesy of Hell & Back|
*****************************The light thudding beats of my feet pounding the soft soil is interrupted with the crackling leaves and twigs underfoot. Warm earthy scents hang in the heavy humid air as we round the corner and the track ahead seems to open out slightly. The world takes on an eerie aspect through the tinted yellow view and red smoke seems to hang in the air when suddenly a piercing scream slices through the air. *pop, pop, pop*
"Man down! Man down!" I roar as I hit the dirt, pain shooting in all directions on the backs of my legs. The feeble thought, 'Just go on without me', darts through my mind as a look at my team mates not far ahead, ducking and diving the pellets hurtling towards them. That scene from the film Platoon flashes through my mind.
"Contact right", my team mate, John roars as I pick myself up and sprint towards the fallen tree for some .. "Go, go, go" shouts my other team mate and husband, Dave.
*pop, pop, pop, pop*. More shrieking, more pain,... The end is in sight, I think? Nope, not yet! We seem to be running and trying to dodge bullets forever. For some strange reason, I can't wipe the smile from my face. My inner voice cheers, 'Shur, what else would you be doing on a Saturday afternoon?'.
The familiar distant screams of first contact as the people behind us enter 'Sniper Alley'... We round another corner and, yes, there's a marshal, grinning from ear to ear and holding a box for the used eye protection. We are free!
I have to say, the day was absolutely amazing, from start to finish. The set up, preparation, and planning put into the event must have been quite intense and months in the making because everything on the day was flawless, From the easy parking, no queues in changing areas or valuables storage area (before and after) to the fabulous obstacles, marshals, entertainment and buses. The atmosphere was electric and moods buzzing.
The feeling experienced at Apollo (& Trojan & any Hell & back race, I imagine) is obviously very unique to each individual, but I think that a mutual one is that, warm and fuzzy 'feel good about humanity' one. We are all brothers and sisters, slogging through this together, neck deep in, as my mom says, s-h-1-t. The camaraderie and team spirit is at times overwhelming. For me, it was just after the warm up. Everyone was happy and bouncing their way through the gap in the wall towards the start line. The group was bottle necking at the gap so I started looking at all of the different t-shirts people were wearing. Fancy dress, Apollo shirts, Trojan shirts and Charities of all kinds. You name it, they were there. Directly in front of me were a group wearing blue shirts(i think they were Temple St children's hospital) with little speech bubbles and in each bubble, a name. I glanced at each one bearing the same name until I reached the guy directly in front of me. His said something along the lines of 'my little angel son'. WELL... Whether it was the build up of all the excitement and adrenaline or not, this little moment pushed me over the edge and my eyes welled up faster than a burst dam. Thankfully, the gopro camera on my head wasn't on so that moment wasn't immortalised.
The race itself was amazing. My previous blogpost details each challenge in detail & the camera I had on my head in live detail (watch this space) so I wont ramble on again here. :). Every obstacle challenging and exhausting. The marshals were hellishly motivating with their shouting taunts, yet always helpful where needed. The water stops positioned perfectly for that quick refuel and the Vit-Hit (Oh the glorious Vit-Hit) and banana at the end- such a perfect finish.
We each signed up for Hell and Back for our own reasons: For ourselves, for charity, for weight loss, for health, for the memory of somebody, for fitness, for the craic, for the challenge... Whatever. Each of us with our own powerful reason- pushing us onwards through the thick and thin. I think it is this- the reason, though all so very different for all of us, that creates this magic atmosphere between everyone. For me, this is the spirit of Hell and Back and the reason I will put myself through the pain, exhaustion and sheer fun of Trojan, Apollo and Titan again and again. Bring on Titan on 3rd November! (That include YOU too... 5 months to train so no excuses: Dave, Kerri, Alan, John, Kara, Emma, Kate, Cora, Katriona, Oonagh, Jen, Aurin, Marie, Claire, Matt)
A HUGE thank you to my Mudslinger team buddies, without whom, I was probably still be trying to get over the wall before the start line. Thank you for putting up with my 8 weeks of training torment & whining. Dave, John, Kerri (MIA due to injury- still recovering. Boo) and Alan (for your hands on team training enthusiasm. Put DOWN the tree... LOL)
Big massive thanks to the Hell & Back team and organisers. Without you guys, where would we find the opportunity to go through such agonising torture and pain and sheer fun in the form of a race? You guys and your sadistic tendencies rock. :)
A BIG thank you to Kieran Ryan, King of my Hell & Back reason for blogging. It's been a blast. not sure what I am going to do now without my weekly Hell & Back blog. *sobs* LOL.
And finally, thanks to fellow H&B bloggers, Neil & Sarah, Kevin Fox- videographer extradonaire, fellow H&B participants and you guys, the readers, without whom I may as well be screaming into space.
Toodleloo for now.