“I think it’s time for Tough Mudder!!”
And so it finally came to pass. On November 18th team Didsbury Virgin Mudders descended onto the icy plains of the Cholmondeley estate, Cheshire, to tackle the dreaded Tough Mudder. All the nerves and fears that had been building over the past few weeks came to a head in a tense couple of hours prior to the event beginning. There was plenty of joking about what obstacles might prove to be everyone’s undoing, and also what people were most looking forward to – the event being over being the most common answer!
The team set about their preparation with gusto, suiting and booting up, and engaging in a hearty mix of banter and wise-cracking, with the team divided into two camps; the Tough Mudder’s who were competing without wearing a wetsuit, and the ‘cheaters’ who were competing with one. Or in other words, those with more balls than brains vs. those with more brains than balls. Though taping your wetsuit into your socks may have been taking things a little too far (Simon). In the end, they still all crossed the finish line at the same time. One camp was notably suffering from the after effects of the cold more than the other though..
With the team’s 10.20am call to arms fast approaching, everybody gathered by the main stage to take part in a mass warm up session to get primed and pumped to take on (probably) the toughest event on the planet. From there it was onto the starting line to take part in the final pre-event theatrics. The pledge was read, the music (‘Eye Of The Tiger’) began, and the countdown hit zero. Tough Mudder had started! Slowly but surely the team began to check off obstacles. Catching them at the second, ‘The Arctic Enema’, they were clean as a whistle having just climbed free of the water. The next time I saw them was about fifty minutes later at the ninth obstacle, ‘The Berlin Walls’, where they were once again caked in mud. The team united to help each other scale the walls, putting into practice what Chris had taught them in the lead up to the day. From here, the three barrelled ‘Underwater Tunnels’ awaited. Everybody waded through the water with a sense of trepidation, nervous about the dunking just ahead. They had every right to be nervous, with Simon afterwards comparing the brain freeze it induced to taking a punch to the head!
With obstacle ten done and dusted, and a mere seven(!!) miles left to cover, the Didsbury Virgin Mudders once again hit the road. It was here though that things really began to get difficult, with fatigue setting in and some physically demanding challenges still to come. Tom began to experience severe pain in his hip, and around mile six of the course the pain became so bad he could barely even walk – this is where team-work really became the priority. Luckily team Didsbury Virgin Mudders was equipped with its own professional physiotherapist, Nargis and soon enough Tom was back on his feet and as good as new (just about!). Better than new in fact, as he was about to outshine the majority of the 7,000 plus taking part in the event. Obstacle 18 was the ‘Funky Monkey’, better know as the monkey bars. Of the thousands taking part, so far only about thirty had made it across according to the watching staff, who were keeping track. Tom however, being the keen climber that he is, sailed across in no time! Everyone stood back and watched, cheering him on, and when his feet touched the ground on the other side, the small ensemble of spectators erupted into applause. The rest of the team? They didn’t cover themselves in quite the same glory, with each one falling just a few bars in. At least they cleaned some of that mud off!
With only four obstacles to go the Didsbury Virgin Mudders ploughed on. Through the ‘Electric Eel’ and up ‘Cliffhanger’, the team found themselves staring down the mighty ‘Everest’. ‘Top Cock’ Chris was unsurprisingly the first to tackle the beastly quarter pipe, making it up to the waiting arms of the Tough Mudders who had already scaled it. One by one, the rest made it to the summit; Tom, Adam (who recovered from a slip on his run-in and still made it up), Simon too, managing it on his second attempt with an impressive dive into the waiting crowd of arms. For the girls however, it was a different story. Amy came closest, twice being just inches away from grabbing hands and once managing to grab on, but then slipping, with the waiting team, while Nargis and Angela just never managed to find their footing on the slippery slope despite multiple attempts.
With ‘Everest’ conquered, all that was left was a little sprint through a small muddy patch and the finish line would be waiting. Oh, but the patch was lined with wires which carried volts of electricity, that could randomly zap you. And some of them carried up to 10,000 volts in just a single jolt. Talk about saving the worst until last! This obstacle really was a game of Russian Roulette, with some of the team making it through without being zapped at all, or at least with only minor shocks (Amy, Tom, Simon and Adam). The rest of the group weren’t quite so lucky, with Chris and Ange taking particularly brutal shocks, dropping head first into the mud and temporarily blinding themselves.
After a brief stint with the doctor to wash the mud out of their eyes, the team was again reunited and ready to run the very last leg. Arms draped over one another, they finished Tough Mudder as they had begun it, side by side, together as a team. Upon crossing the line, the team received their prizes, the fabled orange Tough Mudder headband, and a can of (delicious) Black Sheep beer. They posed for a handful of photos and videos together, but after that their attention turned to the more pressing matter of warming themselves up. After a change of wardrobe, the team set off home, tired and weary but full of sense of accomplishment at the epic event they had just conquered. Later that evening, everybody met up for a few drinks in the pub, where they joked about the day and getting through it, and looked over the photos that had been taken. Talk has already turned to what challenge they should take on as a team next. So for the Didsbury Virgin Mudders, the hard work might only just be beginning!
Check out the photos on the Standby Productions facebook page of the Didsbury Virgin Mudders beasting Tough Mudder!
Graphic designer Tom Davies, another member of team Didsbury Virgin Mudder has been working closely with Chris Clarke over the past few months in designing a new website for Chris as a Personal Trainer. A dedicated page on this is called The Wall, where people will be able to upload photos, films and tweets of themselves training and pushing themselves through ‘the wall’, all done via Twitter.
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