When a university friend approached Josh Blakeway to join his company’s Tough Mudder team, he knew it was going to be challenge. But what he wasn’t expecting was to come face-to-face with gruelling obstacles known as ‘Swamp Stomp’, ‘The Blockness Monster’ and the infamous ‘Killa Gorilla’.
Josh was just one of nine team members who was roped in by Fitzgerald Contractors to take on the assault course in support of its charity partner, Birmingham St Mary’s. Here, he gives the low-down on what it’s really like to take on one of the UK’s toughest mud runs but why it was worth it to raise over £2,000 for the hospice.
Taking on Tough Mudder was a challenge like no other. It wasn’t easy but it was a brilliantly unique experience that focussed on determination, courage and some unlikely team work. The Fitzgerald team experienced some demanding obstacles along the way but knowing that we were raising an impressive amount of money for a great cause is what kept us going…
The first challenge we encountered happened before we’d even reached the first obstacle – my trainer came off and got completely buried in the mud! It took three of us to pull it back out but it turned out that this was just the start of things to come.
When the team eventually reached obstacle number one – thankfully, with both my trainers still on – we were greeted by a huge eight foot wall which we had to climb over. It wasn’t as easy as it seems – and I definitely seemed to clamber more than climb – but we did it, so it was on to the next challenge!
The second hurdle we encountered was called ‘Quagmire’ and can only be described as a huge crater filled with filthy water. It was roughly four feet deep but there were sections cut into the floor which made it over six feet. I think I managed to find every six foot hole in the crate but it didn’t matter as the next challenge – known simply as the ‘Kiss of Mud’– ensured no one remained dry. Kiss of Mud involved army crawling under a low barbed wire and as the name suggests, made everyone become well acquainted with the muddy ground.
Next up was my favourite obstacle on the course – the ‘Blockness Monster’. This saw two huge barriers rotating in water, in which we had to push, pull and roll our way over. I enjoyed this as it was not possible to do it alone. Everyone was helping each other to get over the platforms before eventually taking the plunge themselves. There was a great sense of team spirit in the air – from colleagues and strangers alike.
The fifth hurdle was called ‘Hold your Wood’ and for this task, three people had to carry an eight foot log around a 400-metre muddy track. To begin with, the challenge didn’t seem too bad but after about 100 metres, I was convinced the log was getting more and more heavy. That’s when I realised that one of our team members had stopped carrying and was simply walking alongside us! It was time to rethink our strategy, so we decided to swap shoulders and take it in turns to carry the log.
Up next was the obstacle that was to be my personal nightmare. Known as ‘Killa Gorilla’, this was a series of steep, 150m hill runs. It doesn’t sound too bad but the hills were incredibly muddy – and I knew I would be sliding around more than running. Sure enough, my prediction came true but after gathering some momentum, I just went for it and thankfully, my determination got me through it.
As the team reached ‘Everest’, the general feeling was to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. Everest was a halfpipe style obstacle that was a colossal 13ft in size. Amazingly, the whole team made it all the way up and knowing that we were now approaching the home straight, we felt optimistic that we would complete the course.
What we didn’t realise was that the hurdles we had yet to tackle would be some of the toughest. One challenge that I had been warned about was called ‘The Birth Canal’. This involved crawling through a tight space and under a liner filled with water. I pretty much squirmed all the way along and chose to look directly at the ground as I made my way through – which was a great idea, until I eventually head-butted the feet of the person in front of me!
‘Mud Mile’ was the final hurrah to the treacherous, sloppy mire. It was a series of smooth, clay-like mounds which were slightly too tall to leap over. What I loved about this obstacle was that it was completely dependent on teamwork – everyone was determined to help everyone, which made the atmosphere electric! Strangers were helping strangers in a fantastic display of unity and alliance.
Finally, the team reached our last obstacle – the ‘Pyramid Scheme’. This was a large, 15ft plastic pyramid, completely drenched in water. This was a particularly brutal challenge, as it involved creating a human ladder and climbing over teammates and strangers. It wasn’t easy but that feeling we got, when the whole team eventually completed it and crossed the finish line, was just incredible. It was a feeling of achievement like no other – made even better as we did it under our goal time of one and a half hours.
Of course, whilst the team were proud to have completed the course, our biggest achievement has to be raising a fantastic £2,000 for Birmingham St Mary’s. The hospice is a wonderful charity which is doing amazing things in our local community.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored the Fitzgerald team and the brave souls who joined them– your support means a lot and will ensure that even more local people living with life-limiting illness can receive the vital care they need.
Thank you Josh for sharing your story! To find out how your company could benefit from team building opportunities, increased brand awareness and more, all whilst making a difference to the people we care and support, take a read here.