Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The fundraising mud challenge by Jan Speedie

There we were, sitting comfortably in our committee chairs at the Wellington on the Strand, London in February 2015. A  decision needed to be made between white water rafting and a muddy military assault course challenge. After a lunch with wine it’s the mud challenge for us. Our slot is booked for 23rd August 2015.

The months slip by and suddenly I realise a little training might help. So down to the local gym I go and explain what I am to do in a month’s time - they enrol me there and then. Not sure what they thought about a 70 year old Grannie doing this challenge but they were ready to get me fit and yes they managed it; not quite the size 8 I had hoped for but definitely on the way.

As for the other grannies: Penny wild swims in the sea, so is as fit as a fiddle, and Margaret? Well, Margaret does what Margaret does ...  relying on a stiff upper lip and and the occasional heave-ho from the sons-in-law, suspecting they will  let her drop - 'payback' comes to mind. 

Because, yes, the families are doing it with us, bless their hearts. So there are to be 16 of us, ranging in age from 10 to 70. 

Sponsorship is already rolling in, from those eager to help the wounded (remember 100% of everything the charity raises always goes to those in need, because the grannies absorb all costs.)

Josh, our social media guru, did it with us, of course, and Corinne, his girlfriend baked cakes for his colleagues to help the donations.

Nonie, Margaret's daughter baked cakes for her office too. We'll be able to help more and more people.

Sunday 23rd August arrived and we all met up at  Action Days Out near Dorking.  We were briefed  by the fantastic Ian and Callum Marshall, (as well as Boris, the Norfolk Terrier puppy),  on safety and team work (there is no I in team, troops).  We're off. With Ian and Callum keeping a careful eye on us all the way.

Clean and buoyant, but we hadn't yet begun

We stood looking at 3 trenches stretching over what seems miles of mud. Time to get down and dirty. This is supposedly the 'warm up'. Ho hum. Down we slid, and slogged knee deep through muddy water. We climbed up the muddy bank and completed two more trenches. It's as well there's a big tub for unwanted clothes outside the showers.

We slid down into a flowing stream and waded along, minding the booby traps that were set to send us head first into the water. 

As we rounded the corner I was faced by my worst nightmare - a tyre wall to climb but with much help, encouragement and pushing I made it over (hip joints will never be the same) and on I went wondering what lay ahead.  

Out of the stream we sprinted. Ok, we clambered, hauling some up, shoving others, and being hauled and shoved ourselves.

Then, we saw ahead of us the dreaded  ‘birthing tubes’ (oil cans linked together like chimneys, a rope). We continued to remember there is no 'I' in team, thank heavens, and while someone shoved, we tried to heave ourselves up the wretched things to get out of the river. We had  to ignore the skinned elbows, and bruised knees, not to mention the rear ends brought into use to lever ourselves up. Smiles slipped a bit here, guys.  Once out we scrambled up nets, down firemen’s poles. Honestly, never have we laughed so much, or was it hysteria?

See Nonie go and Ian's legs. 

There were rope swings across water, and oh, did I mention the pouring rain?

A scramble through more tyres.

Mart, Margaret's son in law.
She was pushing, unaware he was stuck. Not helpful.

 Up and over a wall, and these were only a few of the 30 obstacles.

And on we skipped - er, maybe not... On we staggered towards the finish, all filthy with mud but exhilarated by our efforts. In front was an old army truck we had to scramble up and over and I thought I would slip round the side, when my daughter said, 'Margaret is up there, so up you go.'

We ended the escapade by scrambling under the netting, with the blokes holding it up for everyone. Truly we worked at a team throughout, and that's what made it so amazing. After 57 minutes we were home but I can't say dry. We were absolutely filthy, soaked, bruised, skinned, but  on a ‘high’. Every single one of us, from the youngest to the oldest did every obstacle. 

We three grannies like to think positively, therefore: we all experienced a full body mud-pack and from this moment on we look 20 years younger.

Kate, Margaret's daughter took these fantastic photos, and looked after the under 10s who followed us all the way round, with the other spectators. 

Would we do it again? Yes, especially if we raised over £2000 (and it's still climbing). But think we'll probably have to consider something a little different - kayaking perhaps, but can we do that as a team? Thinking caps on.

So thanks  to all those who have sponsored us. Though of course, it's not for us, but for the men and women who need it. Yes, we are out of Afghanistan, but the wounded continue their fight and will have to for many years to come. 

For the video on Youtube of the moment when Ian told us that we must link arms and run through shallow water, under which lay quicksand. Oh yeah ... click to have a look.

For our account on Frost Magazine: click

Donations - click: To donate 

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