Set within the scenic Cotswolds, a course of just over 11 miles of soul-crushing terrain with 23 world-class obstacles waited for Paragon Costs on Saturday’s Tough Mudder. No amount of training could have prepared them for what was about to happen…
Despite the sunshine and summer sun, all 9 participants were chilled to the bone during the warm up session as they anticipated the tear gas, ice and extreme mud that lay ahead. After completing the Tough Mudder pledge they were off, lulled into a false sense of security with a gentle jog through some woodland and grassy rides. But, it was soon time to get down and dirty for the first obstacle - Kiss of Mud 2.0. After commando crawling through Cirencester's finest mire, with barbed wire brutally reminding them to stay low, they emerged triumphant.
The sun was punishing as they covered the miles, scaling walls and giant stacks of straw bales until they were faced with the infamous Arctic Enema. Some called it refreshing, some called it pure hell. They were plunged into ice cold water, their breath knocked from their bodies, making it almost impossible to draw enough air to see them swim underwater beneath a blockade of tyres. Willing their freezing limbs onwards, they ran towards Mud Mile; a stretch of the harshest and toughest mud imaginable. Pools of quagmire rose to slippery slopes where teamwork and camaraderie was essential to pull everyone (together with their shoes) through.
The mid-section of the course saw the teams scramble up giant Hero Walls and crawl through tear gas filled enclosures until they came to Funky Monkey 2.0. Tough Mudder's take on monkey bars were far removed from the domesticated versions found in children's playgrounds. Things were fairly tame at the beginning, with bars gently climbing upwards until the time came for participants to shimmy down a single pole, the transition to which included holding onto a swinging bar. As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, a drop into freezing water awaited those not who did not make it across- 8 of our team of 9.
The teams continued to run onwards, through dark tunnels dropping into icy pools, over giant A-frames, through the excruciating Birth Canal until they had to Walk the Plank. The teams climbed ladders and were faced with a drop so high even Tom Daley would have run scared. After plunging into the freezing and murky water, the end was in sight but not before two of the toughest obstacles yet.
After a run through the woodland, the landscape opened out into grassy meadows and the teams had their first glimpse of Everest. They had to sprint as hard as they could, driving themselves up into the arms of fellow runners to be pulled up to the dizzying heights of Everest’s summit.
They barely had time to recover before the final hurdle, the legendary ‘Electrotherapy’. A forest of wires hung down over a muddy bog, waiting to send currents of several thousand volts through all who dared run though. Numerous tactics were employed to limit the pain but all were unsuccessful, with speed being the only option.
Finally, the finish line was crossed and Paragon Costs were now officially Tough Mudders and were rewarded with a pint of cider.
A huge congratulations to all that took part.
Paragon Costs from left: Claire Winn, Nick Lee, Richie Rees, Marc Harris, Lucy Baldwin, Rowena Edwards, Megan Roxburgh, Brooke Sullivan and Nathan West