Last weekend, a group of friends and I decided to run a Tough Mudder, a grueling 12 mile obstacle course where you have to sign a “death waiver” before you start. Not exactly the sort of welcome you are looking for when you are already feeling a bit nervous. None us really gave it a second thought though, we signed and joined the start line.
To be honest, we didn’t just “decide” to do it last weekend, the decision was kind of made for us back in January. Towards the end of last year a good friend – and fellow runner – had a seizure and was rushed to hospital. A few scans revealed the cause of the seizure, something wasn’t quite right in her brain. After a dangerous operation and significant rehabilitation she is now back to health. But this incident followed on from two other major incidents concerning friends and relatives also being impacted by a brain injury of some description. Tragically we lost one friend.
Headway charity played a monumental role in helping our friends back to health, specialising in the after-care for patients of brain injury. So, forever in their debt, we agreed to do something to raise money for them, hence the Tough Mudder.
Our team consisted of 11 questionably fit miscreants, dressed in lycra and compression gear, high-vis bibs and some touches of face paint and Day-Glo accessories. We had seen some of the videos of the obstacles ahead, but nothing could have prepared us for the full impact of the race. I am still limping slightly.
The race consists of some 20 obstacles, spread across a half marathon course, requiring a mixture of team work, mental courage and physical strength. They involve scaling 20ft walls, bracing ice cold water, traversing uphill monkey bars, crawling through mud and crossing rivers on floating boxes.
The first six miles of the course consisted of mainly light-hearted obstacles, crossing rivers and the like. In the cold drizzle of a Sunday afternoon, it took us right back to our childhood, and we loved it. We emerged soaked through, coated in mud and laughing at each other.
When we reached mile seven though, things took a turn. After just completing the Mud Mile we were faced with, what they like to call, Arctic Enema. This involves sliding down a steep slide into ice water, submerging yourself in near freezing conditions, ducking under a blockage in the middle and clambering out the far side as fast as you can. I can testify that sitting at the top of the slide it looks cold, but the moment you go under the water… It still makes me shiver.
From then on in, the obstacles got tougher, the team work more important, and the cause embedded in our muscles. We got through the next part of the course as quickly as we could, running through thick mud and swinging from metal poles and attempting some of the toughest monkey bars I have ever seen.
The last mile of the course all seemed downhill and we were feeling jubilant as we approached the final corner. But scaling Everest, a 15 foot vertical half pipe in this case, was still to come.
I can assure you after running 11 miles, sprinting up a half pipe, coated in mud and then finding the strength to pull yourself up and over is a serious challenge. We were stuck here for a little while as the smaller members of the group struggled to reach the top. A touch of ingenuity and team work however had us dangling down items of clothing, other people and even a towel (no idea where it came from) in a desperate attempt to leave nobody behind. Having successfully scaled this monster obstacle we ran to the finish line, but there was one last challenge.
Anyone who is reading this who has done a Tough Mudder, or heard of, will probably know that the final challenge is the electro-shock treatment. This consists of a big wooden frame and electrical wires dropping down that you need to run through. It’s a pretty daunting. And it hurts.
We completed the challenge in around three and a half hours, broken and exhausted but over joyed.
The team work and camaraderie at events like these is like nothing I have experienced and I will be doing many more in the years to come.
Our target was to raise around £5,000 for Headway between the 11 of us, and at the time of writing we have raised £1,895. As a final plea for a good cause, please head to our Virgin Money Page and give what you can for a great cause, plus it will make me feel better for all the pain we went through!
Thanks from all of us!The Tough Mudder team made use of NewVoiceMedia’s matched funding scheme through our charitable foundation GivingVoice, to support this important cause. For more information about NewVoiceMedia’s Foundation and the work that we do, check out our GivingVoice page.