Primal Events ON TRIAL: 48 Hour Endurance Event

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 waist deep in a cold river, fully clothed, having not slept since Thursday evening.

The group of people I’m with and me are all laughing hysterically as we sing. We act out the song, getting louder and louder with each verse. 

The event organisers look confused. Were we ever going to stop singing? When were we going to get tired and finally give up?

We sang it over and over again. 
“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes”
“Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes and Eyes and Ears……”

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

That’s me on the left

Primal Events ON TRIAL, a gruelling 48-hour endurance event started at 7pm on Friday evening, where we all lined up at Base Camp.

This is the first year that Primal introduced 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 in such an event. It also made me 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 wristband would be taken from 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!

This year the race directors thought it would be funny to issue us with uniforms, a khaki coloured boiler suit. At first, I was quite excited about this until I realised 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 entire weekend. I wasn’t looking forward to lugging that suit around for the whole event. 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 did think about was how good it was for my glutes – lol.

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 event 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 was an individual event, we all stuck together. The challenge involved a lot of map reading and we got so 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.

There was a joyous occasion on Saturday morning when we were given a checkpoint, and a goal to get there and back within 90 minutes. The time limit was tight! Our tiredness, navigation, the hills, ridiculous homemade backpacks and my baggy crotch didn’t help our speed but we made it back 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 insane!!! With only 3 axes in our event kit list, we 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 it down. We then had to tidy up every fragment from the task.

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 I could feel the emotion rising up from my tummy and hitting my eyeballs. I took a massive gulp. I wasn’t going to cry this far into the event.

After a punishing 42 hours, 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’s hard to describe why they sounded so great.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I’m going to do it all again next year and get my name on the finishers list again. I now know what I’m capable of after 2 days without sleep, a physical beasting 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 Race Directors said – “Just be careful that after On Trial, nothing will ever be difficult again.”


My personal highlights of the event were:

  • Shooting tin cans in the woods at sunset with a pistol to be rewarded with checkpoint 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 where Luke and I went mental on an energy gel. Then came crashing down.

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’m disappointed to say I acted like a stroppy teenager. Lesson learnt – being stroppy doesn’t make time go any quicker and it certainly doesn’t reward me during a task. Stay switched on LT!
  • Making a handmade pack: I’m usually so prepared with my nutrition and hydration during an event. 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.

An 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

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