The Warm Up
Tough Mudder Boot Camp Weekend
The hardy souls (fools) who were committed to the Tough Mudder challenge set off from Halifax in various vehicles on Friday lunchtime. I and six others found ourselves in the luxury of the fun bus; a mode of transport befitting people of high station and noble enterprise. By Basement standards the journey was uneventful, incident wise, but we did pass through some of the most beautiful and inspiring countryside in Britain. There were the few obligatory wrong turns but nothing of any note. The final leg took us to what seemed like the only building in a fifteen mile radius, fantastic! (that wasn’t sarcasm).
The accommodation was (and I use the term loosely) a converted barn. It was however a marvellous place to stay and we were given a great welcome. There followed much jostling for beds and snore avoidance planning. Following a hearty tea, chores and general ribaldry most of us explored the local area and walked to Stocks Reservoir as the darkness crept in. (had a touch of the Blair Witch to it) later everyone chilled and got a welcome night’s sleep.
Most were up early Saturday and a scramble for the showers took place. We engaged in a morning run which began with a long steep hill. I had set off first believing we were supposed to run and everyone had followed. Only at the top did we find out that we were supposed to walk up this; oops, wee bit unpopular. This was followed by a savage onslaught of midges which left Colin and Tom particularly scarred and traumatised. I just remember Steve saying “don’t worry they won’t bite you”.
Saturday afternoon was spent ascending the mighty Ingleborough. We took the route from Clapham, a most rewarding route that covered several miles. It was a glorious day and the view from the peak was astounding. There was an almost tangible feeling of achievement as we sat at the top enjoying the picnic we had brought. It was one of those priceless moments you get in recovery, when you truly get an appreciation of unity.
Although Saturday was physically demanding everyone was still on form come the evening and after tea we held a fellowship meeting. This took the format of an open meeting so that those who were not in recovery could take part. This was followed by the longest game of Trivial Pursuits in the history of mankind. Dark sides were exposed as behaviour deteriorated and people became feral. It was declared a draw at 4am although controversy still surrounds the outcome.
After breakfast on Sunday we packed up, said goodbye to a wonderful place and thanked our hosts for the weekend. This wasn’t the end of the weekend however. We made our way to Colne and Urban Altitude. This is a ‘high ropes adventure centre’ that put the fear of god into me; 60m death slide, 42ft free fall, 11m rope obstacles, climbing wall etc. Good fun for some, terror for others.
All in all it was a great weekend. It involved a bit of physical effort but was on the whole just fun. There’s something incredibly rewarding about outings from the Basement. It’s too hard for me to mention a few specific funny moments as there were so many. If the idea was some training and team building for Tough Mudder then it was a success and more.
The Big Event
The Tough Mudder
It all started on a breath-sucking bitter cold winter’s night in January. The line up that night was very different to the line up who actually completed the mammoth challenge nine months later. The demanding regime took its toll on individuals and the wheat was separated from the chaff. Reputations were made and spirits were broken as the relentless toil showed no sign of abating… enough of the rhetoric.
The majority of those who were taking part travelled in the fun bus; a final chance for team building and reassurance as the reality of the situation started to kick in. People took energy snacks and drinks. Everyone was lycra-ed up.
We got to the Cholmondley Estate and poured out of the van. After a brief delay, as issues of identification were addressed, we were on the actual site and waiting for the word to go. We did a few warm up exercises and exchanged encouragements.
All of a sudden we were running, actually doing the Tough Mudder. It felt like a phoney war to begin with as we just seemed to be taking a long jog. Then we reached the first of many obstacles, a river. We waded through, the water up to our waists. It was cold but not unbearable. Then we tackled the second obstacle; a quick climb through and over a puzzle of tree trunks. It all seemed so easy.
The next was slightly more challenging. A series of floating platforms spread across a river. Michael Silcock led the way and we were soon across. Most made it but a couple fell in. It still seemed a far cry from the test of endurance we had feared.
Then the mud challenges started and everything changed. Oh the mud, the mud! Huge pits of mud. Mud everywhere. It stuck to your legs and sucked you in. It was like was walking with lead weights tied to your thighs. I didn’t know there were so many consistencies of mud. It was like a mud apocalypse. You longed for cold water to leap into so you could wash it off.
After several of these mud trials we ran all over a large hillside and the effort really began to take its toll on the legs. Then a sign appeared that informed us we had completed four miles. This nearly killed some of us. Only four miles? I got that feeling you get in the back of your throat when you are going to cry. I felt like curling up in the foetal position and wailing.
Still we persevered, onward into the great unknown.
We arrived at an obstacle which required the team to form a human pyramid in order to get over it. Simon Heyes, Richard Douglas and Jay Begbie were particularly dynamic at this helping not just us but other ‘mudees’ as well.
Rab excelled at the monkey bars, being the only person to get all the way across and avoid a (in most cases welcome) soaking.
On more than one occasion Michelle and Ross dragged me out of mud that was over my knees.
The wall of death near the end was torture. Everyone was tired and it took so much effort to get over it only to find another one at the other side, absolutely gutted. Steve’s military training came in handy as he helped most of us over.
The last few miles were a real test for some and the spirit of the team in helping those who struggled was amazing. We would have made sure everyone got over the finishing line if we had had to carry them.
The penultimate obstacle was a fifteen feet high quarter pipe. You had to run at it and try to reach the top. After 12 miles of torture this was incredibly difficult and many struggled. Again Si Heyes was inspirational here as was Mark Cohen, both dangling down to drag others up.
I may have mentioned a few names but that isn’t a lack of respect or recognition for anyone else’s input or effort. The event truly was a team event and everyone played their part amazingly. The team spirit was fantastic and the sense of achievement at the end was phenomenal. Everything you need for a good recovery was evident on that day. Faith in yourself and those around you, teamwork, determination, belief, actions not words, effort and a genuine concern for your friends. It was certainly one of the heights of a fantastic year for me in recovery. Hopefully it was for everyone else too. A big thanks as well for those who stood around for hours encouraging and supporting us.
The 2015 Tough Mudder will be at Broughton Hall, Skipton in August.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 8