I ran Tough Mudder and lived to tell the tale

Reporter Richard Redman during Tough Mudder. Below, trainer Adam Stevens, and Richard in his 'Finishers' T-Shirt.Reporter Richard Redman during Tough Mudder. Below, trainer Adam Stevens, and Richard in his 'Finishers' T-Shirt.
Reporter Richard Redman during Tough Mudder. Below, trainer Adam Stevens, and Richard in his 'Finishers' T-Shirt.

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Battered, bruised, frozen and caked in sludge, I emerged triumphantly from the grizzly 12-mile gauntlet that was Tough Mudder, writes Richard Redman.

I started and finished the challenge side-by-side with PureGym personal trainer Adam Stevens, who had spent the last few months getting me battle-ready with his high-intensity sessions.

Designed by Special Forces, Tough Mudder has become a staple part of a thrillseeker’s diet since the company’s inaugural event in Philadelphia, USA, in 2010.

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The course began with a horrific indicator of what was in store for us – the first of 23 obstacles, the Arctic Enema.

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Though we were in the ice water – including brief full submersion – for less than 10 seconds, the Enema was an incredible shock to the system.

I climbed out of the tank shivering and gasping, tunnel visoned, half-seriously fearing for my life.

‘Great’, I thought, ‘20-odd more like this’.

Water proved to be a regular feature of the course, both in the mud and streams we had to cross and from the malevolent springtime sky.

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Sandwiched between two weeks of glorious sunshine, the few hours I spent battling Tough Mudder just so happened to include thunderstorms and a gruelling hailstorm.

The worst of all the obstacles was prefixed by a small – yet daunting – sign that read ‘leave your dignity here’.

Behind the sign was a low, wooden structure, from which dangled a jungle of orange wires that stretched down towards a muddied floor – I knew what was coming.

One deep breath later I was lying on my front, army-crawling through electrically-charged flourescent vines that stabbed at me with agonising frequency.

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Short of showering with a toaster, I could never have prepared for the shocks those dangly demons sent through my body.

After the tenth-or-so full-body spasm, I had almost had enough. I stared down at the dank beige puddle, summoned a gutsy roar, charged my way to the other side and flopped over the barricade like a damp fillet.

Half-way through the course, Adam’s knee gave up on him and he couldn’t run properly.

But I was not about to leave behind the man who had whipped me into shape and gave me a fighting chance at completing Tough Mudder.

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I told him he wouldn’t forgive himself if he gave up, and he battled on through the pain.

We had to climb 12-foot greased wall after 12-foot greased wall, trudge through chest-high rivers and streams and leap over raging flames.

We also had to traverse a a full mile – mounds, ditches and tunnels – made entirely out of mud.

The daddy of all the challenges was the appropriately named ‘Everest’ - a behemoth quarterpipe 11-and-a-half miles into the course that demands one last deep dig from participants.

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A glance to the top of the obstacle epitomises the ethos of Tough Mudder.

Dozens of selfless weary warriors lay with outstretched arms to offer extra leverage to fellow Mudders yet to conquer the mountain.

They didn’t care about their course time, because Tough Mudder isn’t about individuals – it’s about teamwork – and every Mudder pledges so at the starting line.

We chanted together: “I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.

“I put team work and camaraderie before my course time.

“I do not whine – kids whine.

“I help my fellow mudders complete the course.

“I overcome all fears.”

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It was that camaraderie that pulled me to the top of Everest. A quick ‘thanks lads’ and a position swap later and I was the one offering a helping hand.

Watching participants slip through my fingers after they had sprinted their way almost vertically into my grasp was as heartbreaking as when I was the one falling.

But – ‘No man left behind’.

After Everest, we dashed through another electric shock forest before together crossing the finish line threshold into a party atmosphere where they served cocktails of relief, pride, accomplishment and that old favourite camaraderie.

Well, not exactly – we were handed a pint of ice-cold Strongbow which we neglected to finish in similarly ice-cold winds, hopped in the car, put the heating on and set off home – not before collecting our well-earned T-shirt and commemorative sweatbands.

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The whole experience was unforgiving yet unforgettable, and crossing the finish line is an achievement I will always be proud of.

I may never have played for Manchester United or rowed in the Olympics, but I can now say I have taken on Tough Mudder and won – Hoo-raah!

For more information about upcoming Tough Mudder events all around the world, visit www.toughmudder.co.uk.

I would not have been able to get through Tough Mudder were it not for Adam, personal trainer at PureGym.

Visit Adam on Facebook at Phoenix Personal Training.

I was running Tough Mudder to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital - if you can spare any small amount, please donate here.

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