10km, 65 obstacles - and a helluva lot of mud! It could only be the Mud Monsters event. Here's what happened when Muddy got muddy.
Mud Monsters is an obstacle course race set in the Sussex countryside just outside East Grinstead. There are 5km, 10km and 20km options, as well as a Ninja race for kids aged 4-13 years. Last year, I ran the 5km with bunch of girlfriends and it was a huge laugh and loads of fun.
This year, I signed up for the 10km with my 15-year-old son – and I can honestly say it was an amazing thing to do together. It was hugely challenging and fun, but also a great way to spend time with my boy.
The event is held each year on at 135 acre site on the edge of East Grinstead – it’s really easy to find, and there’s plenty of parking on-site. Go for the VIP parking (£5) if you can, which puts you right next to the event village – which you’ll appreciate at the end. Although, the standard parking (£3) is still fairly close to it all.
The event village is really well set out – and both times I’ve been involved it’s been really well organised. There are toilets, (cold-water) outdoor showers, changing tents and a bag drop, as well as plenty of options for pre or post race food options – think woodfired pizza, gourmet hotdogs and hearty hot soups. As you’d expect there’s also bar – so you can toast your achievement at the end of the day.
For families coming along with littlies in tow – there are activities to keep them amused including a bouncy castle and giant bungee trampolines. But there are also places along the courses where supporters can cheer on their friends and family.
Camping is also available on site the night before the event for £5 a tent. You’ll be in desperate need of a shower after the event, so best make the journey home.
This is an event that’s all about the challenge and the achievement. It’s not timed and there are no penalties for failing or skipping an obstacle, so leave your competitive spirit at home – you’re not racing each other. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – there’s a real sense of camaraderie among the competitors offering encouragement, advice and plenty of helping hands out of a slippery mud pits.
Expect around 34 obstacles on the 5km circuit, and 65 on the 10km. Those who sign up to the 20km, complete the 10km circuit twice, which means about 130 obstacles. To my mind, that’s pretty hardcore – and with an average finishing time of 5hrs 15 mins for the 20km race you’ve got to be pretty fit to tackle this distance.
But the great thing about the Mud Monsters event, is that it’s not just for the super fit. All ages and all fitness levels can – and do – take part. Everyone who finishes gets a medal.
THE MUDDY DETAILS
Runners take off in waves throughout the day. My boy and I were in the 11am wave, and after a group warm-up we were off and scrambling over hay bales for our first hurdle. But this event is called Mud Monsters for a reason – and it wasn’t long til we were waist-deep in mud. Plenty of the obstacles involve mud, but not all of them. There’s a water slide and a section of the stream where you wade through what feels like fairly clean water. It was a nice chance to get some of the mud off!
There are also solid walls to climb, monkey bars, rope walls and tunnels, as well as sections where you carry tyres, logs and water tanks. I managed to complete most of the obstacles – although one or two, like the monkey bars were just too much for me. (Have you tried swinging across bars when you’re covered head to toe in slippery mud?)
The last two kilometres were probably the toughest – but in many ways also the most exhilarating. The end was near, but boy was my strength starting to wane. The marshals are brilliant though – full of encouragement and praise – so you really do feel like a champion. And for me, crossing that finishing line with my teenage son was a truly memorable experience – and one I’ll always feel super proud of.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: If you like a physical challenge, and you don’t mind a bit of mud, you’re going to love Mud Monsters. Plenty of people enter as a team – some raising money for charities and others with their fitness clubs.
Not for: Well, it sounds kind of obvious, but if you don’t like getting dirty, then this really is not the event for you.
The damage: Tickets are £49 for the 5km, £56 for the 10km and £64 for the 20km – with early bird discounts available as well as discounts for teams of 10 or more.
The next Mud Monsters event is on 20 October.