When Diva’s Chief Strategy Officer James Whatley assembled Diva for a meeting back in February, he was armed with a simple dream: convince as many of us as possible that completing a muddy assault course at the Badminton Estate in South Gloucestershire would be a good idea.
It was all in the aid of charity - our good friends at War Child UK - and, as is his way, he was very persuasive.
And so it was that 14 of us agreed to embark on a six month-long training regime. The WhatsApp group was set up. Couch to 5k apps were installed. Everyone played their part in preparing for the big day in mid-August, which would see us tackling 30 obstacles over 15 kilometres (Ed: JW’s Fitbit says it was actually 20km).
How hard could it be? As it turned out, extremely.
At midday on Saturday 12 August, Team Diva set off.
The sun was out. The skies were clear and full of promise. Then the rain set in. And, boy, did it pour - consistently, for about an hour. If the terrain hadn’t been sufficiently muddy before, it was now, and we’d barely scratched the surface of what the course had to throw at us.
Having already climbed over various obstacles, ‘Cry Baby’ saw us blasted with Tough Mudder's own unique ‘tear gas’ blend while making our way through a tunnel. Then ‘Electric Eel’ pushed our pain thresholds to the limit as we crawled through a pool of water whilst navigating a field of electrical wires.
We worked together to navigate the ‘Block Ness Monster’ - two consecutive 500lb blocks submerged in water that took a village to cross, only to be faced moments later with the ‘Mud Mile’ - a series of 10ft high, deep, rolling mud mountains, which ensured we came away caked in mud.
The torrential downpours soon set in again as we prepared for a woodland jaunt. Once there, we were tasked with climbing over hay bales, carrying our partners of choice across rugged terrain and co-ordinating as groups of four to walk in tandem with giant planks attached to our feet.
The ‘Kiss of Mud’ forced us to become well acquainted with the ground - as if we weren’t already - by making us crawl under a string of barbed wire. We’d soon join forces with other competitors to confront the ‘Pyramid Scheme’ - a 15ft wall with no grip, considerately angled to force everyone to form a literal human pyramid in order to make it to completion.
If that wasn’t enough, we still had to tackle ‘Everest’ - a greased 13ft quarterpipe that demanded a fast run-up, high jump and many helping hands to complete. It’s hard enough to think of doing it now, let alone after trekking 15k with battered limbs.
Despite being well over the 15k mark at this point, further challenges still awaited us. The ‘Arctic Enema’ felt like a final insult - launching ourselves down a corrugated tube into a vat of icy water. The fact that hundreds before us had been there too, lathered in mud, with mucky feet covered in God knows what, taking a dip felt more like bathing in something akin to icy slurry than an ice bath.
We laughed. We gagged. Oh, how we gagged.
Our final two challenges saw us confronting the infamous ‘Mudderhorn’. As Tough Mudder puts it themselves, it’s forty feet up, forty feet down, with nothing but a net. Battered and bruised, we made our way over it. We’d spotted it at the beginning of our endeavour and thought it looked fun. By the time it came to tackling it ourselves, it felt like an ordeal.
But that was nothing compared to what awaited at the finish line - the blow of 10,000 volts as we clambered over a sodden hay bale, submerged in a pool of water. We were already soaking wet. Was this really necessary? This is a Tough Mudder. Of course it was.
And yet we pulled through. Team Diva emerged victorious. Battered and bewildered, we did it. And we raised over £5k for War Child UK in the process.
Here’s to Team Diva - Zoe, Stu, Celine, James H, Aaron, Tom, Sam, Kat, Charlotte, Paul, Paddy, Oscar, Joe and James W. We’re feeling very proud indeed.
A special mention to Gabby who, having been unable to make it on Saturday, is doing it solo next month (good luck, Gabs!).
Would we do it again? Probably. But ask us again when the cuts have healed and we’ve stopped having to apply Deep Heat.