Yesterday I travelled to the countryside just beyond Henley-on-Thames in order to watch my daughter and seven other pals (making up a mixed-gender team) take part in the 2014 London West Tough Mudder challenge. I was suitably impressed by sheer scale and efficiency of the operation – covering everything from car parking arrangements to registration, feeding tents, medical services, marshalling and health & safety provisions. As far as I could tell, everything worked smoothly and I was glad to have made the effort to attend.
Such events are not races per se, but physically-challenging events in which pushing yourself to your own personal limit is the quest.
This one was a 12-mile course involving about 20 obstacles ranging from Ice Enema, an industrial-scale skip filled with ice-cold water, to Walking the Plank – a 15 feet plunge into a 4 metre deep pool of … er, ice cold water … and sundry tunnels, electric shocks and other dastardly ordeals.
It took ‘our’ team just under five hours to complete the course. The heart-warming aspects for me as a spectator were the opportunity for people-watching and the fact that so many – of all ages, shapes and sizes, let alone states of physical fitness – had actually chosen to part with up to £100 or more to enter and spend their Saturday afternoon engaged in such an enterprise.
Two things struck me:
Firstly, this sort of thing never happened in my day, or – if it did – I was totally unaware of it.
Secondly, I should estimate that 30% or more of the participants were female. Thirty years ago, if such events had been around, I doubt that more than 5% would have been – I guess that’s progress of sorts …
Here’s a link to a report on yesterday’s Tough Mudder that appears today on the website of the DAILY MAIL