“THIS is the first day of my Easter vacation and I’m completely knackered already,” said the mud-spattered but smiling Sheffield University lecturer Matt Watson.
Matt and his colleagues from the university’s geography department, Adam Whitworth and Adam Dunajko, had been examining the topographical geography of Holmesfield very closely last Saturday while following an 8km assault course and race up and down the hills off Horsleygate Road.
Participants, some in fancy dress, had to deal with the standard climbs and mud of a cross-country run, as well as a series of obstacles including climbing walls, rope climbs, stream crossings, a tunnel of mud and various horse jumps on the land owned by the Barlow Hunt.
The Endurer Dash was the first event of its kind organised by Pete Pollard, a former Royal Marine who now owns the Hope Valley Health Club.
“I’ve done a lot of running in my time, and it can be a bit boring,” said Pete. “This is more of a tough physical challenge, it’s more gritty than the average cross country which can be a bit one dimensional, I think.”
The idea proved very popular, with 400 competitors signing up over three months – Pete had expected only 300.
Part of the profits from the event also went to two charities: the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Appeal and Help for Heroes, which provides assistance to injured war veterans.
“It’s been fantastic and it’s good to raise money for charity too,” said Dominic Smithers, who, together with fellow runner Greg Jones, had raised £200 for the two charities in sponsorship.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and after running through all those streams and bogs I’m looking forward to a few beers now we’ve finished.”
“The tunnel wasn’t pleasant,” said Greg. “But I enjoyed the water slide near the end.”
“I’d definitely do it again,” said Dominic. “You definitely feel you’ve achieved something at the end of it.”
The geography academics felt the dash was an ideal way to let off steam after a term of lecturing and computer work. Adam Dunajko actually came first in the men’s race.
“As you got to the obstacles you kept thinking, ‘this will be hardest’, but then they kept getting harder all the way round.”
Adam noted he was in second place until the front runner fell over in a stream but gallantly urged him to carry on regardless.
“It doesn’t have to be so much pain,” cautioned his colleague Adam Whitworth, who came in at a more leisurely fourth place.
“It’s lovely countryside and it’s just chucking in a few obstacles too. And why not?”
The next Endurer Dash race is in September, probably at the same location.