Rangers are readying one of the UK’s top parks to ensure runners have a muddy good time when its annual obstacle course race returns.
Muddy Mayhem has over the past four years seen thousands of thrill seekers turn out to prove they have what it takes – though as all have discovered, it is no mere walk in the park.
And with two months to go until the run – which takes place at Hardwick Park on Sunday 2 October – work is already underway to ensure that 2016’s course is bigger and better than ever.
Durham County Council senior parks and countryside ranger Ross Carrick said: “From a small, very basic 2.5km event in 2012, Muddy Mayhem has grown to become something quite unique in the obstacle course run world, in that although it is only a 5km loop it is packed with nearly 40 man-made and natural challenges.
“We take inspiration from horse trial courses, motocross tracks, rock climbing centres, military obstacle courses, adventure playgrounds and – having personally become hooked on taking part in mud running events – we incorporate the best ideas from around the country, but with a County Durham spin.”
On the day runners, who must be aged 16 or over, can tackle the 5km course either once, for £35, or twice, for £40, with waves of participants setting off between 11am and 3pm.
Participants can go it alone or discover what trials Ross and his team have come up with alongside friends and colleagues – with discounts available for groups.
Ross said: “As our experience as a team has grown, and as the materials we have available change, the obstacles are getting much bigger and much more fun – or harder – depending on which way you look at it.
“But I would encourage everyone to have a go at all the obstacles as you will be really surprised at what you can do.
“I run a lot of these events on my own and I sometimes come up to a 12ft wall and think, ‘How am I going to get over that?’ Yet I’ll give it a go, and if I fail you can guarantee that there’ll be someone next to me who will give me a leg up until I get over that wall.
“That’s the great thing about these events, it’s all about teamwork and community, whether you know people or not. “
Many of the obstacles are months in the planning, and Ross said this year will see yet more added to the already jam packed course.
Ross said: “My favourite obstacle would have to be ‘Don’t Swallow’ where runners are required to go through a four metre tunnel under one of our bridges, half submerged in water.
“Unfortunately we only have one tunnel at this bridge, so we are hoping to redevelop this obstacle for 2016 by adding some similar size pipes and putting these further around the course, in the main lake.
“Our most challenging obstacle would have to be ‘Steeple Chase’ which is a series of climbing walls which range in size from around 4ft to 10ft, finishing in a backward facing overhang.
“And I think the most fun obstacle would have to be ‘Greased Lightning’ which is a water slide down a long tarpaulin in the amphitheatre bowl outside the Visitor Centre. It is quite steep so you can get some speed up with a running dive.”
Places for Muddy Mayhem are selling well, with earlier time slots, between 11am and 12pm already filled up. Anyone who wants to take part is advised to sign up as soon as possible to avoid missing out.
For more information and to sign up visit www.durham.gov.uk/muddymayhem or call 03000 262 899.