Moddervet: the raw power of survival running

Members of Moddervet know exactly what monkey climbs and swingovers are. They need these sports techniques for survival running.

‘Survival running is an intensive, individual sport, in which you have to overcome various obstacles while running.’ Camilla (22) is president of the Groningen Student Survivalrun Association Moddervet.
Let’s expand on that: the Dutch word moddervet, literally mud-fat, means ‘very fat or super greasy’, but it’s also a slang word for ‘great’.
‘We train techniques that allow us to take the obstacles even better. Meanwhile, we work on strength and fitness. You can run distances varying from three mile to 21 kilometres, yes, that’s a half-marathon. During the run, you follow a trail through woods and meadows.’

‘I do admit: survival running is most fun in the rain’

Although the club name suggests otherwise, the members do not run through mud. ‘Only if it has rained a lot. Survival running is more serious than mud and obstacle runs. You’re not allowed to work together. It’s a personal effort with a focus on techniques. But I do admit: survival running is most fun in the rain,’ says Noor (21), Moddervet’s internal commissioner. ‘I used to do athletics, mainly running. But I missed that extra oomph. At the 2020 students’ introduction week in Groningen, I walked past Moddervet’s stall. I tried one of the trial sessions and I was immediately sold.’

A year later, Camilla walked across the same student introduction market. ‘I was looking for a new sport. Survival running seemed like something I would enjoy. It was similar to what I was already doing: running and gym work. After a trial training session, I thought it was so cool that I signed up.’

Training? You are as free as a bird

‘We train twice a week. Tuesday training is for people who want to compete. The training on Thursdays is a bit looser, with lots of games. There is always one coach present.’ Athletes are free to do whatever they want during training hours. ‘You start as a group, though. Some running and warming up. After that you’re free as a bird. You can focus on obstacles, on climbing, on running or on your strength. How hard you train is up to you.’

All conditions, all seasons

Training always goes ahead. ‘Only if thunderstorms are within three seconds, we have to leave the track. Training in bad weather may not always be fun’, Noor admits. ‘But you are in a group and you go through all hardships together. Later on, when you’ve taken a shower and step into your bed you feel incredibly fulfilled.’

Want to compete? That’s totally up to you

Camilla explains what a typical competition run looks like. ‘At the start you get a wrist strap, which you have to try to keep. You do so by passing the obstacles. You can try as many times as you like, but there is a time limit of a few hours. And there is this broom wagon, so you have to pass. If you fail, you lose your strap. There are competitions all over the country. So you may get to know other students who practice this sport. And taking part in the competitions is completely free. You decide how often and where you compete.’

A close-knit group of friends

What makes Moddervet such a special club? Camilla: ‘We all know each other and we are a bunch of very different types of people.’ Noor adds: ‘You might be a newbie or one of the old gang, everyone talks to each other. We are very diverse and inclusive. No cliquism, everyone belongs! So I would say: if you are looking for a new challenge and a close-knit group of sports friends, please join.’