Marketing Assistant, Charlotte Lambert describes the experience of her first Tough Mudder challenge as a member of the Girlings Gladiators’ team.
Well, what a weekend. The Girlings Gladiators took on the Tough Mudder classic and we smashed it - four hours to complete, 10 miles of cross terrain, uphill running, 25 obstacles and an absolute scorcher at 27° degrees for the most part.
Team Captain Jonathan Masucci (Corporate & Commercial), Will Chrusciel (Employment Law), Raphaëlle Davies (Girlings Personal Injury Claims) and Rabina Shrestha (Girlings Personal Injury Claims) and I made up the elite team.
The Tough Mudder challenge
Held at Culden Faw Estate, Henley-on-Thames there are few more picturesque areas to run through, with red kites circling above (perhaps looking for a Mudder who didn’t quite make it through the quagmire) the location was stunning and made the slog of the uphill runs well worth it.
But this is not your average weekend race, in fact it is not a race at all. For those unfamiliar with Tough Mudder, it is a series of obstacle and mud runs that will push your physical and mental limits without the pressure of competition.
Tough Mudder themselves have a pledge that you all say before the start line:
- I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge
- I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time
- I do not whine - kids whine
- I help my fellow mudders complete the course
- I overcome all fears.
A team challenge
A long, woodland uphill run gets the adrenaline pumping but before you have a chance to catch your breath, you discover the first of Tough Mudder’s pretty imaginative obstacles. We tackled everyone one, helping each other as a team, from wall climbs, log carrying and monkey bars to crawling under barbed wire and electric cables, oh and splash into a giant ice bath.
As a first time Tough Mudder participant, I didn’t know what to expect, I thought I would need to push myself to my limits but I didn’t have a clue what my limits were. I feel that I have achieved something as a team that is beyond what I could have achieved alone.
It was a fantastic experience and although it was hard at times we all thoroughly enjoyed it and wore a smile from start to finish!
My personal highlights and toughest moments
Of all 25 obstacles I have picked out two that I felt stood out for me.
The Block Ness Monster
A 30 foot long cuboid that sits semi-submerged in chest-deep water.
The aim? to rotate the block, allowing your fellow mudders to grasp the top and be pulled up and over.
The key? When you reach the top, don’t let go! Your bodyweight is essential in keeping the block rotating to allow the next mudders to follow suit.
Why was it my highlight? This was more than a team effort, it took a community to tackle this obstacle, as Tough Mudder themselves say, you need an army to take on Block Ness Monster, no solo soldiers!
Oh, and you have to do it all over again on the second block.
My toughest moment - Hydrophobia
A 3 foot deep pit of water, which is around 12m long and 6m wide and contains huge pipes.
No, the pipes aren’t for swimming through, you have to fully submerge yourself and swim into the small gap under each one. For me, this was a challenge, during my first 2 attempts I didn’t swim under with enough force to allow the pipe to rotate with me, the result? A nose full of water and a little hydrophobia creeping in.
But my team weren’t going to leave me behind, a guiding hand, words of encouragement and a team led countdown got me through, and once again, you have to do it twice.
Don't just take my word for it - Here is what the rest of the team had to say:
Team Captain - Jonathan Masucci
My personal highlight – The Team
"Seeing everyone working together as a team and challenging themselves beyond their own individual limits but also enjoying themselves at the same time (even if submerged in mud at various points!) It took a lot of trust in the rest of the team, particularly where we had to pull/push each other up over some quite high obstacles."
My toughest moment – Everest
"For me, the toughest moment was running up the levelled up version of Everest with wet shoes on the third attempt, having failed the previous two. I knew I didn’t have to do it but came so close on the previous attempts and didn’t want to throw in the towel. Had a little moment to collect myself and with the rest of the team and another team there for encouragement and support well… think the video of everyone’s cheers nicely sums up how it felt to clear that particular obstacle. Thanks guys!"
Rabina Shrestha, Girlings Personal Injury Claims
My personal highlight - the event
"After the year we have all faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event and mainly our team, showed me the importance of a community built on teamwork and overcoming obstacles. No obstacle was too hard for the Girlings Gladiators and to top it all off we were able to raise money for such a great cause! Thank you to all our supporters."
My toughest moment – Arctic Enema
"The toughest moment for me would probably be the Arctic Enema which was basically a giant ice bath! The amount of times over the years I have said I would love an ice bath during scorching weather, I don’t think anything could have prepared me to be fully submerged not once, but twice in ice!"
Raphaelle Davies, Girlings Personal Injury Claims
My personal highlight
"It is difficult to pick one particular moment from the event, and I feel that our team worked incredibly well together. I thoroughly enjoyed the Blockness Monster, which involved pushing and pulling big rolling obstacles in the water, to try and pull other people over them, and then get yourself over the obstacle. This was so much fun and showed the importance of everyone working together, teammate or not. Plus getting in the water was a welcome change to the scorching weather and almost made it feel like a break. I feel a lot of pride at having completed this event, particularly in support of Take Off’s amazing work."
My toughest moment
"I knew from the start that anything involving upper body strength would be difficult for me, and when we came to ‘Skidmarked’ (what a lovely name!), for which you are supposed to pull yourself over an obstacle at such an angle that there is no way over it but by pulling yourself up with your arms I knew I was in trouble… But thankfully with helpful hands and shoulders from teammates, I was eventually able to climb over the obstacle! Otherwise I probably would still have been hanging on the obstacle, desperately trying to build up my upper body strength."
Fundraising for our corporate charity, Take Off
And of course we didn’t just take on the challenge for fun, I mean, who doesn’t want to be frozen, electrocuted and tear gassed* (*Well a tunnel full of some tear gas equivalent) on a sunny Saturday? Our team are raising money for the Girlings Corporate charity Take Off, working for better mental health and well-being. Working across the South East, they provide ready-made social networks, running regular groups such as arts and crafts, gardening, cooking, walking and more to help their members learn new skills and share experiences through peer support.
Please take a look at the amazing work that Take Off do www.takeoff.works So far we have raised £630, if you can spare a donation to support our fundraising for Take Off please visit www.justgiving.com/girlingsgladiators