In previous events around 1 in 10 Darth Mannion challengers have failed to complete the course. This is usually due to poor preparation or a limited understanding of what the challenge involves.
Our aim is for as many of you to get around the course as possible, so Darth’s Regulators have put together five tips to ensure this happens. We hope they help.
- Train for a 2 hour half marathon: The Darth Mannion course is 11 miles of hills, rivers, sea and mud. To account for the challenging terrain, we recommend you are able to run half marathon distance in around 2 hours. Previous competitors that have turned up with only a 10k under their belt have failed. The time limit is important because you must run no slower than The Silent Sweeper (our chain-vaping back-marker). There are no static marshals, so if you fall behind The Silent Sweeper you are unlikely to finish, and may get lost. If you need a training routine, BUPA provide an excellent half marathon programme.
- Take on some hills: Horse’s Hill and Devil’s Dip are just two of the brutal hills that make up The Darth Mannion course. Hill running is very different to road running. It is anaerobic, uses different muscles and requires a tailored technique. Running downhill is also a learned skill. If you do not put hill running into your routine you may tire early on in the challenge. If, like some of our London challengers you don’t live near hills, an inclined treadmill or running up steps is a good substitute. Covent Garden Tube Station has about 200 of them, motorway flyovers, or the local town hall (to Rocky music), all do the job.
- Get wet: Another defining feature of the Darth Mannion is the time spent in cold water. Sea submersions in March are a shock to the system, so we suggest you prepare your body. Darth does this with a morning wash in Pwll Du, us Regulators take cold showers. One (anonymous) Regulator likes to get hosed down by his wife. All are valid. The rivers and sea also have the impact of stiffening up your legs, making running more difficult after submersion. Including the occasional river run in your training will be helpful (even if you do get a few looks).
- Invest in appropriate footwear: The muddy and hilly terrain of the course means that appropriate footwear is a must if you want to complete safely. In previous years challengers have dropped out early on (despite high fitness), taken harsh falls and incurred the wrath of The Silent Sweeper due to inappropriate footwear. We once had a student entrant whose sole fell off his right shoe halfway around the course (amazingly he managed to complete and won the bravery award for his efforts). Trusty, worn running shoes, or smooth soled gym shoes will not get you around the course. We recommend fell shoes – SportsDirect have a range of reasonably priced pairs.
- Dress light, dress tight: The start of the course involves navigating ‘Bernie’s Brambles’ so tight clothing is recommended to avoid getting snagged (something Bernie would take great pleasure in). The water from river runs and sea submersions will add weight, so we suggest breathable light clothing. Lycra (although unflattering) is ideal. Denims and hoodies (although fashionable and slimming) are not.
Those are the main lessons we have learned so far. If you follow each one, we’re pretty sure you’ll get around the course and avoid the Hall of Shame.