Primal Events ON TRIAL 2015: A 48 Hour Endurance Event

Event Date: Friday 29th May 2015

“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes”
“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes and Eyes and Ears……”

It’s 9.30am on a Sunday morning. I’m standing in a river fully clothed having not slept since Thursday Evening.

Me and the group of people I am with are all laughing hysterically whilst singing. It’s like we’re on drugs or something, acting out the song and getting louder with each verse.

The event organisers look confused. I’m sure one of them scratches their head in confusion. Were we even going to stop singing? Were they going to break us and get us to quit???

“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes”
“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes and Eyes and Ears……”

We are approximately 38 hours into our event 48-hour event.

Primal Events ON TRIAL, a gruelling 48-hour endurance event started at 7pm on Friday evening, with Luke Lawrence, Ben Kirkup, Jason Goonery, Matt Talbot and myself lined up at Base Camp.

This is the first year that Primal has allowed a base camp – somewhere for us
to change our clothes, refuel and get a much-needed morale boost from our support crew.

This seemed like a luxury, but it also made me extremely nervous as I knew we would pay for the privilege.

After a safety briefing and kit check, we are issued with our orange “PRIDE HONOUR COMMITMENT” wristband which is a representation of our strength and determination. If any of us decide to quit, our wristbands would be taken off us. I fiddle with mine, study it and wonder what the next 2 days will hold…… Will I be the second female to ever finish On Trial? I wanted it so bad!

The race directors thought it would be funny this year to issue us with uniforms – a khaki coloured boiler suit. At first, I was quite excited about this until I realised that the one they had selected for me was ENORMOUS! The crotch hung down to my knees and was made of heavy cotton. The weather wasn’t looking great with constant rain forecast for the whole weekend, so I wasn’t looking forward to lugging that suit around for the whole weekend. Welcome to On Trial LT.

We were each given a number which was sprayed onto the back of our suits. Our names were now redundant.

Within 30 minutes of starting, we had to wade up and down a river, and although a few tried to avoid getting their feet wet, it was inevitable. I knew that foot care was key to finishing this event and felt a little nervous about having wet feet so early on.

The base camp was ‘conveniently’ located in the depths of a steep valley, meaning with every task we had a long trudge in and out. All I thought about was how good it was for my glutes.

Dressed in our boiler suits, chopping down trees, carrying wood and digging deep holes into the rocky ground for hours made me feel like a slave. Especially as we didn’t have names. At one point, we had to make a backpack out of items from our required kit list; 2m x 2m fabric and rope and carry all our belongings in it. Navigating our way through the night, soaked to the bone from the rain, with our handmade packs cutting into our shoulders and falling apart meant we looked like slaves too.

3-4am seems to be the most challenging time during these events, just before the sun rises. This is when I began to question my sanity. I wondered why am I doing it? What have I got to prove and to who?

Dragging our exhausted, sorry, soaked selves along, Number 2 (Luke) and I were chatting…… I told him I’d had enough of doing crazy challenges and pushing my mind and body to the limit too frequently. This was in the early hours of Sunday morning having not slept for 2 nights, having covered around 50-60 hilly miles in the pouring rain.

I asked Number 4 (Ben, 3 times Primal Finisher!) why he kept returning for more. He said, once I heard the words “Congratulations, you’ve finished ON TRIAL” I will understand. I couldn’t see how 5 words would make it worthwhile, especially as I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait to hear them.

Although On Trial is an individual event, we all stuck together. The challenge involved a lot of map reading and we got incredibly lost on the second evening, walking about 90 minutes away from our checkpoint. Morale was low and I had been falling asleep as I walked.

Many On Trial participants hallucinate due to lack of sleep, however, I am disappointed to say, I didn’t. I was hoping to see some cool stuff, like skeleton unicorns, Furbys or Sonic the Hedgehog but all I got was whispering in my ear and thinking I was being followed.

There was a joyous occasion on Saturday morning where we were given a checkpoint, and a goal to get there and back within 90 minutes. It was going to be a close call,becausee of the tiredness, navigation, hills, ridiculous makeshift backpacks and my baggy crotch, but we made it with 11 minutes to spare. This is the first occasion an On Trial team have ever completed a task within the allocated time. For this, we were rewarded with a treat……. a FUN task…… demolishing a 33 foot static caravan.

This was mental!!! We only the axes from our required kit list, so we just beat the s**t out of this caravan with anything we could lay our hands on. The ‘Fun’ task turned into a mammoth task, taking nearly 8 hours to knock down and tidy up.

Towards the end of the event, after singing in the river and having a Primal PT session with a lovely big rock, we were each pulled aside individually and asked why we were so determined to finish.
It was then, that I could feel the emotion rising up from my tummy and hitting my eye balls. I took a massive gulp. I wasn’t going to cry this far into the event.

After 42 hours of physical and mental tasks, 4 of us were rewarded with the delightful words – “Congratulations, you’ve finished On Trial” This was it! The words! Number 4 was right, it was all worth it. Even now, it is hard to describe.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I am going to do it all again next year and get my name on the finishers list again. I now know what I am capable of after 2 nights without sleep, a beasting of PT session and being soaked to the bone looking like a slave for 2 days.

My teammates Ben, Luke, Jason and Matt were what made the event for me – if there was an apocalypse, I would want to be in their gang. Through the exhaustion, frustration and discomfort we still found room for laughter and so much if it. I have made the greatest friends from On Trial.

It’s like one of the RDs said – “Just be careful that after On Trial, nothing will ever be difficult again.”

My personal highlights of the event are:

  • Shooting tin cans in the woods at sunset with a pistol to be rewarded with coordinates
  • Melting aluminium to pure liquid at over 1,500 degrees and making ingots
  • Demolishing the caravan
  • My 10-minute caffeine high on the second morning

The challenges I found tricky and will learn from are:

  • Taking a pee whilst wearing a saturated, oversized boiler suit – no more details needed
  • Remaining positive and motivated in the early hours of the second morning – we were given a task that I should have excelled at. Due to my tiredness, I am disappointed to say I acted like a stroppy teenager. Lesson learnt – being stroppy doesn’t make time go any quicker and it certainly does’t reward me during a task. Stay switched on LT!
  • Making a handmade pack – seeing as I am usually so prepared with my nutrition and hydration, having a pack made of fabric and rope restricted access to my delicious treats. Every time I wanted some food or drink, it meant unravelling my stupid pack. I ended up not bothering and becoming dehydrated and hungry.


A enormous thank you to our support crew – Karina Grimes, Tony Campbell, Steven Abbott, Gabriel Campbell and Bex Lawrence- you guys was truly remarkable staying awake for us and being there whenever we needed xxxxx