In Canada, we have Tough Mudder, a super-fun but super-long race. Here in Jaén province, we had an obstacle race called Eternal Running in Cazorla, a nearby village. There were things similar to Tough Mudder: crawling under barbed wire, cement tunnels, and water obstacles. One difference in Tough Mudder is that the water included huge chunks of ice! C-O-L-D. Here, nothing. I laughed at the locals who plunged in and yelled, "Que frio!" For me, it was like a pleasant bath.
Another difference: in Tough Mudder we had the "pleasure" of getting on our bellies and crawling through mud. Here, ROCKS. Tiny, sharp pebbles and sometimes, a bit of broken glass. It wasn't included on purpose, rather someone didn't clean thoroughly before the race. Just one example of how safety features were largely missing in Cazorla. Another example: we climbed olive harvest trucks (of course) piled with hay bales 2 - 3 metres high. In Tough Mudder, climbing obstacles were higher but if you fell there were foamies or the soft earth to land on. In Eternal Running, there was the pavement. That was it. You can bet I held on for dear life.
Also, in Tough Mudder the water obstacles can be deep. Only one was deep in Cazorla, near the end. By then I was extremely tired, and had no idea how deep it was until plunging in at the end of a huge slide. I suddenly found myself underwater, and in my tired state struggled for what felt like forever to the surface. Even though the side of the pit wasn't far, it took many scary seconds to crawl and kick towards it.
Near-death experiences aside, there were some interesting cultural differences. At the food stop in the middle of the Eternal Running race, a food and drink table had been set up. In Tough Mudder, this table consists of bananas and water. In Cazorla, they served 3 types of munchies, wine, beer, ... and water. Everyone stopped running to nibble and sip. Because Eternal Running is timed, the competitive Canadian in me reached in, grabbed water, and drank it while continuing to run.
Not that this improved my time in any way. I was #424 out of about 500 runners.
There was some cool stuff that happened after the race. For example, a couple got married live before crossing the finish line.
Then Eternal Running served everyone paella - cooked in a giant pan. It was so delish, I returned for seconds.
The race was such a fun experience! I'm glad I got a chance to experience this type of obstacle race in a different country.