After taking part in McTough Guy 2016, I was hyped for Mactuff 2017. Advertised as bigger, better and tougher than before with world championship qualification status no attached. This had to be good.
After travelling the short journey of 500 miles to Gods Country I rested up in the nearby Premier Inn. Waking on Race day with an unwanted sore throat and blocked up nose (perfect timing) Time to do this. Kilted up, off I set. Heading off into the fog towards Knockhill Race Circuit. Upon arrival Parking was hardstanding, aplenty and close by. It was also free.
Registration had a short queue when I arrived but was a smooth and east process. Collecting timing chip and goody bag before being left with my own thoughts before the start of the race.
There were food venders and plenty of toilets nearby so you didn’t have to venture far.
It suddenly started feeling a lot colder, the fog was heavy and the wind had started to pick up. The start must have been getting closer. 11ish was nearly upon us. I headed to the start line and met with my RAW team mates on the race circuit. The crowd was certainly a lot bigger than the year before. A warm up then commenced, then a few rules were explained by Mr Alex Potter himself. Nice to see the race director getting up close and personal to the runners. We were then graced with sound of the bagpipes and the band. The standoff was back, the pipers were face to face with the runners, Smoke filled the air from grenades being let off and then to add to the atmosphere a few fireworks were thrown into mix. The adrenaline was certainly pumping now…Cold… What Cold?
The band finished and parted in front of us. Alex Potter walked towards us. 3…..2…….1…….Go!
We were off, What a start.
No messing around, we were straight into action. A brief run on the tarmac saw us turn back on ourselves, onto the grass and faced with an American Football team. Fully padded and ready to take you out. Being 6’4” and 15.5 stone I was not worried about a bit of push and shove, I quite like it. As I approached the group it looked like I was about to get sandwiched by two players. I got ready to dodge. I turn quick, dodged one and it looked like I was about to get a face full from the other. I braced for impact just as the player decided to move. Down I went without even being hit. Typical!
Up and away from my tumble we were led around the race track for a short warm up run which helped to thin the field out. A few small obstacles along the way. The front runners managed to miss a small obstacle but the marshals saw this and made sure everyone else didn’t make the same mistake.
Away from the tarmac and out onto the mud. A few more small obstacles and then we were led to a sandbag carry. Not an overly heavy sandbag, but being quite small made it a little more awkward to carry and run with. Over one shoulder off I went. Up over a cargo container and off into fog. Slowing down as the sandbag carry took me into a series of streams, these were slippery under foot and the water was certainly fresh on the toes. A nice windy trail of streams and hilly banks that seemed to go on forever eventually led back to the sandbag collection point. I was glad to rid of that bag at last.
A short run out and then back onto the tarmac. This time for something else…… A car pull. Several cars were laid out with ropes each end. As soon as a car was available you were to pull it the required distance. Failure to do so and a 5-minute time penalty would be issued as this was one of a number of mandatory obstacles. Pull completed and I was off again. Through small buildings/shelters of the race circuit where there we various obstacles incorporated. Rope climbs and traverses. Then off out into the fog again, some hills led you to the weaver. A short queue for this mandatory obstacle, no failure here or another 5-minute time penalty will be awarded. I was confident in my ability on the weaver so not fazed by this obstacle, although I had never completed one in a kilt. An uphill well-built wooden weaver which claimed a few victims whilst I was on it, this led into a wooded area which had you ducking, diving and weaving through the beautiful natural terrain.
More Obstacles were thrown in my way as I made my way through the wooded area. Sternum checker, spiders web to name a few. Then out into knee deep water with an interesting climb out on the Highland Reel. A large cylinder with rock climbing holds to assist you in getting up and over.
A short jog up the hill and I was faced with The Brass Monkey. A scaffold frame with different lengths of rope with Go cart tyres attached to the ends. Size 13 feet into Go cart is fine, but try getting them out again. This was a got test of agility, upper body strength and determination.
What came next seemed to go on forever. The dreaded hill slaloms. I think it made it worse in the fact the fog was so thick you couldn’t see how many there were or how long they were. Also, another twist to them was a tyre carry part way and to have you come away from the briefly to complete other obstacles. Just another fantastic way to break you down mentally. By the time, I had finished the slaloms my Quads were a mess, then just to push you a little bit more you were faced with a never ending uphill trench to climb.
Other great Obstacles on this part of the course included, Monkey bars leading to Ring less ninja rings. Both over small water ditches and being mandatory obstacles you really didn’t want to drop off. Then over to Nevis, 2 steep wooden climbs back to back, with a jump required from the lower to higher one.
Time to get the legs to wake back up as it was back to running. I had nothing left in my legs. I was led to a section I recognised from 2016 where we was made to wade through a thigh deep muddy stream for what seemed an eternity. To my delight, we crossed this stream and headed into a stunning section of woodland that had the most interesting but brutal footing. It was like moss on top and a peat bog underneath. It felt like running on sand, it was soft, uneven and occasionally deeper than you expected. Just what my already dead legs needed. More punishment.
Leading out of the woods I knew I was nearly home, water slaloms, tunnels, mud, tyre climbs, traverse. The obstacles kept coming. Then I was led to the Quarry. I had seen the mandatory list of obstacles so I knew what was about to come. The quarry swim. Winter in Scotland, what better way to finish a race than with a nice cold dip. There was no getting slowly. Two steps and the floor dropped away, breathtakingly cold water and the swim began. Midpoint suddenly felt even colder and I could hear the marshal’s words of encouragement on the other side, they even had sweets. This was all I needed, I was out, a handful of sweets and I was set to go again.
Just when I thought the water was over there I was faced with a barbed wire crawl through, yes you guessed it, water. Kilt slowed me down here as it kept getting snagged, but I made my way through the gritty, murky water and tried to get a run on in the home straight. A slow plod through a couple of more small obstacles and one last big scramble up a large hill and the finish was in sight. Back onto the race track and over the line. Greeted by a big crowd of people, Medal earned and now time to get dry and warm.
Since the first event in 2016 this event has done amazing things. Earning World Championship qualification status just proves that. Last year it was incredibly windy, but the views and surroundings were spectacular. This year had a heavy fog, creating an eerie effect and playing a real mind game with you. As you never knew what was coming next until it was right upon you.
This is an event you must try, I can only get bigger and better. Yes, it had a few small issues. A lack of pens in registration slowed the process, but easily resolved. A few early course marking issues, but again, easily resolved.
The positives certainly outweigh the negatives. The organisation leading up the event was great. Lots of updates online, Free parking, Key drop, hot showers for after and a great tee and medal.
The marshals were aplenty and all were friendly and approachable, giving words of encouragement and high fives along the way.
I heard people talking about there being no water stops on the course. I hadn’t even realised this until I finished. But to be honest I don’t miss the water stations on winter races. I find I’m okay without. But that’s just me, so maybe a water station or two wouldn’t go amiss.
Well done Brass Money Events, Alex Potter and the gang. This was a top event and you should all seriously get signed up to next year. It’s tough and brutal but beautiful. Its Mactuff.