If, as an event organiser, you boldly decide to call part of your race the bog of doom, it had better live up to its billing. The name is given in irony. As far as I know, no-one has actually died in the bog of doom. That would lead to one hell of an insurance bill for the organiser.
Still, the bog of doom is the star attraction of Hell Down South, an 11-mile trail race around Longmoor military camp in Hampshire. There are numerous clips of runners wading through the bog of doom uploaded on You Tube, but this – in my view – is undoubtedly the funniest.
I approached the bog of doom in more tentative fashion than Dave. Arriving at the edge, the last thing I wanted to do was to plunge into icy, stinking water. ‘Jump, jump, jump,’ spectators cajoled. There was no way I was jumping. I immersed one leg into the murk, felt the slimy bottom of the bog, then threw in the other. I took two small steps, the water rising to my chest. The sudden cold took my breath away.
‘Swim, swim, swim,’ the crowd chanted. I shook my head incredulously. There was no way I was swimming. I shuffled labouriously through the brown water, fearing every next step would fail to find the bottom and I would plunge beneath the vileness.
Shallower water came, then, mercifully, the end. Inflatable toys bobbed in the shallows, juxtaposing the grim surroundings. Emerging from the freezing water, I felt my nether regions contract violently. As one of my fellow competitors said after: ‘I felt like telling a marshal I had left my testicles in the bog of doom.’
It could have been worse. Anyone about 5ft4in or shorter would have water lapping their lips were they to wade. For them, it’s a straight choice: swim or drown.
There was more to come, more water that is. After another batch of sharp ascents and descents that Hell Down South specialises in, I was ushered down a steep bank into another pool, although the water this time only reached my waist. I clambered onto the opposite bank and crawled to the top, only to be directed back into the same pool.
So down the slope I went, sloshed through more water, before clambering out. ‘That’s the last of the water,’ someone shouted. I could have kissed the bearer of that news.
By now I was extremely cold. Two miles of quick running, much it on sand, failed to thaw me out. The shape of my left hand resembled a claw, the feeling in my fingers gone.
Feeling has now returned to all areas of my body, I’m very happy to say, although looking back, I think I was a little soft. Sometimes I wish I was a little more like Dave.