Event #3 - Get your Nutz out

Well, well, well. I’ve been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. Sunday 12th April saw 36 teams of 3 running from Thurstuston to Parkgate and back via beach, marsh, mud, wind, rain, maths and (more) mud. Of the 36 teams running, 3 of them were Fifteen for ’15 teams.
9 clean gents, ready to test their nutz.

Meet the Teams
Fifteen for ’15 – First up, we have the (un)imaginatively named Fifteen for ’15 team. Made up of Sean Chappell, Gareth Chappell and Mark Cotter, the flagship group had a start time of 11:55 which perfectly coincided with the BBC’s weather forecast of winds peaking at 60mph. 

The A (Floor) Team – With special guests Tom McGillycuddy and Joey Tyson, Ste Chappell lead his merry band of University friends off at 11:50, giving Fifteen for ’15 a target to hunt down.

The Stags of Merlin (don’t ask) – Fresh from a personal best half marathon in Liverpool alongside Sean and Ste, Dan Bentley and Ollie Murray were joined by long term CF Trust supporter and all round great guy, Chris Thomson. The stags had the earliest start time on 11:45 which meant that there was sure to be some close racing and some chasing down being done.

And they’re off…ish
TuffNutz is a fantastically well organised event by Pensby Runners revolving around an 11 mile running tour of the South Wirral Coastline interspersed with "8" different challenges.
Before starting your run, there is the minor detail of piggybacking each of your teammates along a plank whilst the piggyback-er carries a pipe with a tennis ball on top. Not until all three have been carried across the plank can your run begin. After psyching ourselves up for the run, over-excitement meant there were a few dropped balls and we all eventually got going.

TuffTasks 1 & 2
Absolute commitment to the task 
The day started off in the worst possible way. I forgot my lucky headband. Luckily, I knew we would have some supporters meeting us along the way and arranged a pick up point. Knowing that was taken care of, I could crack on with the day then.

Within the first mile or so where TuffTasks 1 & 2 (I know, after struggling with the tennis ball, I was worried it wasn’t a challenge as well). These gave us a good idea of how the rest of the day would pan out though. With some challenges designed to test your physical and mental strength and the others, well, they were simply designed to get you covered in mud. They worked.

A quick run down to the beach and we met our first TuffTask. The first challenge of TuffTask 1 was hearing the instructions from the marshal. With 60mph winds battering us on the beach and no shelter, there was little chance we were going to hear what was required of us. Seeing a shovel, a bucket, a bag, a pole and a course marked out on the beach, it didn’t need the best imagination to work it out though. So I set about shovelling sand into the bucket, put it in the bag put the pole through the handles and me and Gaz set off around the course.
Dan and Ste demonstrated a faultless
swimming technique on TuffTask 2...
...which is odd, seeing as you could walk
through it.

The high winds were really (un)helpful on this one. The bag was big enough to act as a kite and dragged us around the first 3/4 of the course and then tried to take me out. Skidding on the sand, we stayed upright and made it back, picked up the sandbag and off we went.

Mark had the right idea. Upright as possible
Once again, Ste immersing himself in the
challenge. Literally.
TuffTask 2 was where the mud started. Running up from the beach to Thurstuston Country Park, the second task was literally a net in a puddle and you had to get under it. Now, there are two types of people in this world. 1 type will happily dive right into a puddle and try and drink their way through (Ste) and the other (Me, and my team) will think outside the box and get through as dry as possible (not very dry, but still…) 

TuffTasks 3 & 4

After 2, it was back on with the sandbag and along the Wirral way for about half a mile before returning to the beach for TuffTask 3. A straightforward maths challenge here, each member of the team had a set of numbers to collect and add them all together before we were allowed to continue. When we were back on our way, the terrain really started to change and there was to be a mixture of beach, bog and marsh for the next few miles.

Before TuffTask 4, we were zig-zagging along the marsh, running inland, scaling the sea wall, abseiling back down and repeat. Big shoutout to the marshal's here, stood on the marsh, absolutely exposed to the howling winds. Eventually, we got to the site of TuffTask 4.

A (floor) Team crate surfing
It was here, we saw The Stags of Merlin for the first time since the start. But before we could catch them, we had to navigate the crate challenge. The premise was simple, 3 people, 3 crates, get around a square course without touching the floor. The wind did it's best to knock us off balance but once we were in a rhythm, there were only a couple of feet planted on the floor. Once completed, we then had to mount the railings on the sea wall and traverse to the end. It was here that carrying the sandbag came in handy and acted as a counterweight to keep everything balanced as I hung half over the railings.

TuffTask 5 - The Fifteen for '15 official fan park
It was then on to Parkgate, a big milestone in the run as it meant we would turn off the marsh and would be running along solid ground again, but more importantly, back in the general direction of the finish line.

It was also a big milestone because that was were our groupies (loyal and very much appreciated supporters) had planned to meet us. And they didn't disappoint. A roaring reception followed by energy gels and drinks and more importantly, my headband greeted us as we took on and failed miserably at the ski/plank challenge. It was a great boost to everyone to have the supporters there.

Having caught up with and run alongside the Stags, they left us once again as they mastered the art much quicker than us. Have a good laugh and see how we got on...

More TuffTasks
From Parkgate, we headed along the Wirral Way to Lower Heswall. Here, we had our next task. In true Fifteen for '15 style, just as we started a task involving a piece of paper, down came the rain. Our task was an anagram and a maths task. After about 7/8 miles of wind and now rain, our maths really suffered, and being honest, we didn't have great maths to start with. Luckily for us, the Three Stags of Merlin do have great maths and apparently anagram skills as well. The gave us a gentle nudge in the direction of the answer (told us) and we were off again.

Now, this is where I'm a bit confused. Originally, I thought there were 8 TuffTasks. I have counted 10 though. So who knows if the next challenge was a proper Task or just the whim of a man with a clipboard. Anyway, we had been given a number at the start of the day to remember. Then we had to count the lamp posts along the short road section between TuffTask 6 and the next section of Wirral Way. A short dash uphill to a third number and then add them all together. The extra mile seemed to recover some of my maths skills and it was then into Heswall Dales.

So Close...
Bang on message. T-Shirt looking
remarkably white/legible after the slop 
Joey taking advantage of the free mud spa
Knowing the area, I knew we were starting to really close in on the finish line but not knowing how long we were going to spend in the Dales, I was reluctant to celebrate that. An undulating run saw us reach the next TuffTask/punishment/mudbath.

Chris and Dan's T-Shirts were not so lucky
Under the sheet and through the mud, ring the bell, sandbag re-slung over the shoulder and on to the most gruelling part of the run. By this point, Fifteen for '15 had snook in front of The Stags and The A (floor) Team were probably mincing around the finish line.

Team banter hit a low and it was a quiet jog up some brutal hills before arriving at the dungeons for the final challenge.

The last leg....
It was around the time of arriving at the final challenge that I was cursing the event organiser. We were soaked through, covered head to toe in SH...mud and did ferrying a bucket of water up and down a hill to fill a bigger bucket was the last thing we wanted to do. Unfortunately, that was exactly what we had to do. With tiredness setting in, my memory is fairly hazy of this one. We did it though and all that was left was a short run, down on to the Wirral way where you could see the finish line!!

End Zone
After a monumental effort by everyone, we powered towards the end, greeted by a torrent of abuse from half-marathon runner Ollie. This was the perfect motivation to get cracking and finish. As the course opened up into the park where it all began two and a half hours earlier, cramp began to set in but we managed a "sprint finish" and made it over the line with a weary rendition of Daniel Sturridge's wriggly arms.

Once again I owe some humongous thanks! Thanks to the 8 warriors who showed how Tuff their Nutz are and put themselves through that in the name of charity. Thanks to the event organisers and marshals, it was such a well thought out and organised event, something I'll definitely be doing again. Thank you to the supporters who keep coming out in appalling weather. It is making each event so much  more bearable and it's great to see you all when we're struggling along.

Finally, thank you to all the generous donators!! Without you, we would all just be idiots running around in the mud! At this moment in time, we are just shy of £2900.00. We've smashed the halfway point of my target with only 3 events done and I am SO overwhelmed by everyone's support!!

Hope you've enjoyed this, bit longer than usual but it was so much fun, I had so much to tell. Sorry to The A (floor) Team, I couldn't feature you as much, but that's what you get for running so fast.