The Fierce Five Challenges Completed

This is a video I put together which summarises the challenges, the charities I fundraised for and how much in total I raised.
It also importantly highlights the fact that I would never have been able to do any of this without the support of my amazing wife Angela – The nights and weekends of not having me there with our 2 year old whilst I was off training or competing – She has been an absolute rock!

Fundraising Breakdown

If you don’t want to find out in the video, I raised in total £4,519.88 for the five charities which I’m massively over the moon about, considering that if I added up all of my fundraising targets it would have come to £2,600.00 – so I raised an additional £1,919.88 more than what I thought was possible. I smashed all of my fundraising targets thanks to the amazing generous donations from friends, family and even people I’ve never met before (a special mention goes out to Steven – you know who you are).

Challenges 1 & 2: Swim 1,000 x 25m lengths of a swimming pool & The Great North Swim, Windermere
Charities: Daytrippers Bolton & Kidz2gether
Target: £1,000.00
Raised: £1,721.16

Challenge 3: Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast
Charity: Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Trust Fund
Target: £1,000.00
Raised: £1,756.25

Challenge 4: Tough Mudder 2014, Yorkshire
Charity: AFC Masters Football Club
Target: £300.00
Raised: £425.00

Challenge 5: The Great North Run 2014, Newcastle
Charity: National Autistic Society
Target: £300.00
Raised: £617.47

Fierce Five Challenges – Hardest, Easiest, Most Fun, Best Moment, Worst Moment

Hardest Challenge – Physically
Overall it would have to be the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast due to what it took out of me. The 1,000 lengths swim was probably as hard than the cycling part of the coast 2 coast, but the running/walking part was insanely hard – resulting in blisters, shin splints, long term injuries and strapping.
Order: Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast, 1000 lengths swim, Tough Mudder, Great North Run, Great North Swim

Hardest Challenge – Mentally
They were all mentally incredibly hard which I didn’t realise before I started training for everything. It is the mental endurance more so than physical endurance that gets you through each challenge.
Overall, including training I would say the 1,000 x 25m length challenge was the toughest mentally. The event itself was tough mentally but I was prepared due to the huge amount of training I did up to the event. There were many dark moments when training on my own up to 600 – 700 lengths for 10 hours in a pool with just my own mind and thoughts.
The Great North Run was the toughest event running on an injury and not being able to stop like I was able to in the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast.
Order: 1000 lengths swim, Great North Run, Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast, Tough Mudder, Great North Swim

Most Fun
Tough Mudder was without doubt the most fun challenge I did. This event is not just about physical or mental endurance but the team spirit and camaraderie you get in your team is like nothing other I’ve witnessed.
I did have many laughs with Aidy though on the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast – he was such a top bloke throughout and kept me going whenever I felt like giving up.
Order: Tough Mudder, Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast, Great North Swim, 1000 lengths swim, Great North Run

Best Moment
Too many to choose from – it was a great feeling beating the guy at breaststroke during the Great North Swim but I have to say coming down St Bees Head, the place I’ve visited so many times as a kid, and seeing my own family waiting for me at the bottom to congratulate me on completing the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast.
It was also amazing cycling/free-wheeling 5 miles downhill over 30mph towards Robin Hoods Bay on a roasting hot day seeing the coast coming into view for the first time and then arriving at the sea – that would have been enough on it’s own but to return back again and to the people I cared about most was an amazing feeling!

Worst Moment
There were a few dark moments, one I’ve already mentioned when training for the 1,000 length swim and being completely lonely and bored and just angry with having to keep going.
The return part of the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast when I was walking on injured legs was pretty rubbish but I had Aidy to help me and keep me cheery.
The Great North Run was pretty grim, the event was supposedly addictive, being told I’ll want to do it every year. My running training was so good up to this event but the injury I received just before the event meant that I had to run most of it in agony. At many parts I just wanted it to be over and didn’t know if I had 2 miles or 6 miles to go – but I persevered and got through it thanks to the positive mental training I had done up to this event and the other events – without it I may have not been able to complete it
…. OH YEAH the ambulance trip and hyperventilating after the 1,000 length swim was pretty rubbish as well.

…well that was a bit grim – OK now say something nice about each of the Five Challenges

1,000 lengths swim
The free swimming membership provided by Horwich Lesuire Centre for training. People swimming with me on the day

Great North Swim
My family who came with me for support and beating the fastest guy I’ve ever met at breaststroke also meaning I was the fastest in my wave.

Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast
Aidy keeping me cheery throughout as well as our Keswick night out the day before we returned. The woman who sold me some high grade walking boots for half price due to the charity challenge. The post challenge pub fundraiser was also absolutely fantastic raising over £500.

Tough Mudder
The team spirit was unbelievable and I really bonded with my top mate Jonny. Completing it and everyone hugging and laughing about certain obstacles.

Great North Run
Seeing Angela and Sebastian at the end, having a few teary moments during the run knowing that the Fierce Five Challenges was coming to an end.

Fierce Five Challenges Cost

I spent A LOT of my own money to ensure that I could do these events. I spread this cost over January to September and funded it with a part time graphics design and website development job I’ve been doing in the evenings. Without trying to sound like I’m glorifying myself the following is a brief breakdown of the costs of setting up the Fierce Five Challenges in case anyone is interested in doing something like this themselves – although of course it could be done a lot cheaper than how I did it:

Swim 1,000 x 25m lengths of a swimming pool
•  1,000 length swim pool & training gear – £36.00
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £197.00
Total challenge cost £233.00

Great North Swim 2014, Windermere
•  Entry cost – £39.00
•  Wetsuit – £60.00
•  Transportation, parking and ferry costs – £40.00
Total challenge cost £139.00

Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast
•  1 night camping hire – £20.00
•  3 nights bed and breakfast hire – £125.50 (4 nights cost nothing)
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £196.00
•  Walking boots – £70.00
•  Bike storage pouches, backpack, tubes, spare battery chargers – £76.00
•  Food/drink allowance – £200.00
Total challenge cost £687.50

Tough Mudder 2014, Yorkshire
•  Entry cost – £74.13
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £45.93
•  New trail running shoes – £40.00
•  Transportation & parking – £30.00
Total challenge cost £190.06

Great North Run 2014, Newcastle
•  Entry cost – £50.00
•  Nutrition & energy supplements cost – £12.98
•  Transportation & parking costs – £40.00
Total challenge cost £102.98

Fierce Five Challenges Total Cost £1,352.54 

(Total entry costs – £163.13)
(Total equipment & gear costs – £282.00)
(Total nutrition & energy supplements costs – £451.91)

…Finally Special Mentions and Thank You’s

I could not have done any of these challenges without the kindness and support SO MANY people have shown me since the beginning of this year.

Suzi Moores & The Horwich Leisure Centre
Suzi was amazing with ensuring that I had everything ready on the day of my 1,000 length swim including my own swimming lane. She even swam my first lengths with me as support. The Horwich Leisure Centre gave me a free swimming and gym membership from March to May which Suzi sorted out so that I could go in whenever I wanted to train.

Tom Irving
Tom is a head dietitian and leading sports nutritional specialist. Tom gave me so much support and advice in terms of preparing myself for each event and what supplements to take in the run up to the challenge as well as just before, during and afterwards.

Tim Cromaty
I’ve known Tim since school but we become really close again recently and especially during the Five Challenges. Tim is a swimming legend who gave me loads of advice, a pair of his best goggles which I used for both swim challenges, and a heap of support and praise.

Lisa Eccleshare
Lisa spent hours and hours tirelessly contacting bed & breakfasts all around the route I was taking during the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. In the end she was able to secure three bed and breakfasts which offered either free or heavily discounted rates saving me around £300 in B&B hire costs.

Adrian Thomson-Massey
The absolute legend who kept me cheery throughout the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. From being positive, to stopping when I needed to rest my injured legs, putting on his comedy podcasts to cheer me up, having a top time each night after completing each day especially the Keswick night out we had on our penultimate day.

Gareth Macdonald
Gareth lent me his bike for the cycling part of the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. I had no idea at the time but I damaged the gears from it’s excessive use. After I learned about this I offered to pay for the repairs and he kindly declined saying it’s no problem.

The Bowling Green Pub, Horwich
Nicola and Jason Monks, the owners of The Bowling Green Pub, have been absolutely amazing throughout the Five Challenges. Firstly they let me put a donations pot on the bar for the swimming challenges which came to around £70. Then most importantly they provided the Bowling Green Pub so that I could host a fundraiser after I completed the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge. They provided a free DJ, free pasties, two huge free cakes and most importantly the barrel of beer which was donated by Blackedge Brewery, every penny made from selling the beer went to the fundraiser. The fundraiser total came to over £500.

Blackedge Brewery, Horwich
Blackedge Brewery donated a barrel (firkin – 80 pints) of beer for the fundraiser I hosted at my local pub. They were so eager to support the fundraiser so I am massively thankful to them for this kind donation.

Samantha-Jayne Brady
Once I completed the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge I decided at the very last minute to do a raffle for the fundraiser I had planned at my local pub. For a raffle I needed prizes and I met Sam online after posting on a local website page about local companies wanting to donate any prizes. Sam, who I’ve never properly met before, went around my local town of Horwich and spent the whole day visiting shops asking if they would like to donate. Sam was able to get 13 raffle prizes which were worth over £500. What an amazing kind person Sam is I love her to bits 🙂

Fundraiser Raffle Prize Donators
I mentioned how grateful I was for Sam for searching for local companies but I have to thank those who actually donated prizes from beauty products to meal vouchers to bowling & cinema vouchers to champagne. Incredible stuff and goes to show how kind local businesses can be when supporting good causes.

Park House Bed & Breakfast, Ingleby Cross
Beverley & Michael Robins were absolutely unbelievable. Not only did they provide us with a free night’s B&B but they were so attentive when we arrived, making small repairs to our bikes, washing clothes after I accidentally rolled around in some dog doo doo and even when we returned back to Ingleby Cross on our return journey Michael found us in the local pub and afterwards drove us back to our alternate B&B and said Beverley had made us some homemade flapjacks.

The Fat Lamb Bed & Breakfast, Kirkby Stephen
Paul Bonsall gave us a free night’s B&B and a heavily discounted night’s B&B (busy Saturday) which we were so grateful for. However, Paul was unbelievably caring when we massively underestimated our first day’s cycle arriving at 1am instead of 9pm. Paul who was supposed to finish at 10pm waited up for us and still showed us to our rooms.

Bridgedown House Bed & Breakfast, Richmond
Jennifer was absolutely lovely and gave us a free night’s B&B. When we arrived she showed us to our room, provided ice for injuries and kindly left us to our own devices.

I didn’t want to give Stephen’s full name as he would probably think against it being his humble, kind nature. Before I started the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast challenge I decided to go to each B&B dropping off supplies so that they were waiting for us before we arrived. I met Stephen at one of the B&Bs on one of the drop offs and I was in a mad rush to get around to each one. Stephen overheard the conversation I was having with the B&B owners about the challenge and when I bumped into him he wanted to know more details. He gave me some very warm words of praise and encouragement and off we went to the next B&B. What happened next was amazing – on a Facebook Radio 2 page I wrote what I was planning on doing for the challenge and Stephen’s better half Carole wrote a reply on my post saying that Stephen had told her about my challenge and recognised who I was from the conversation. Stephen and Carole are from the other side of the country and we have no mutual friends on Facebook. The link was incredible – and THEN they donated £120. Incredible kind and lovely people – Stephen and I talk regularly now on Facebook – he and Carole are such a lovely couple.

Mystery Great North Run Swimmer
Thanks to the guy who gave me the greatest race I’ve ever been in. The guy was massively muscular and I thought I wouldn’t have a chance of beating him until right at the end when I pipped him.

Angela and Sebastian Carruthers
I’ve already mentioned Angela in the video and at the top of this post but STILL, TRULY, she has been incredibly supportive these last 9 months. When I came up with the idea of doing the challenges Angela was very reluctant with me doing them as she knew that it would entail a lot of hours away from home training. I have honestly tried as best as I could to fit the training around her and Sebastian, such as doing it after Sebastian went to bed and Angela watching her nightly soaps marathon. But there were lots of times when I simply was not there and adding this to the times I’m already not there when I’m off doing my voluntary commitments she has been incredibly supportive. On a selfish note I’ve had to give up a lot of time with Angela and Sebastian, time which I’ll never get back but I knew the sacrifices before undertaking the challenges and I am more than ever making up for the lost time.

…and Finally…
Thank you to absolutely everyone who have supported me whether it being incredible donations or just asking how I’m getting on. There family members who were throwing in £100 donations each time for each challenge which was incredible – but there were also people such as Carole Brennan giving me a huge box of high-grade pasta for free as it was one of the only things I was eating at the time preparing for the challenges. Friends in the pub asking how I was getting on, random people in the pool asking about my swimming challenge, Jonny Turnbull for getting me through Tough Mudder – everyone you have been so kind and I would NOT have accomplished anything close to what I have achieved these past 9 months.

Now everything has finished I’m very restless at the moment and it’s very hard keeping the healthy eating regime. I still can’t do any running until I’ve fixed my leg which I injured during the Coast 2 Coast 2 Coast and made worse during the Great North Run.

I hope to do at least Tough Mudder next year, improve on my swimming & running and perhaps hope to do something huge in 2016. It’s all secrets at the moment and depends on if Angela would divorce me if I was away again.

I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved but most of all I’m just proud of the money that I’ve raised for the incredible charities I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know this year. I’ve made amazing new friends along the way and rekindled friendships with old friends which I will always be in touch with.

The Fierce Five Challenges has been an incredible ride!

Tough Mudder Yorkshire 2014

The day arrived and I felt generally great and ready for this test. I went to bed at 8:30pm which was strange for a Saturday and struggled to get off to sleep – probably the excitement. At least I’ve got Monday off work so I’ll treat today like a Saturday. I had some of my porridge, protein, berry special which I used to always have on big swim days.
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Jonny Turnbull picked me up from my house at 5:30am and we headed to Skipton…. but the wrong way up the M62 but it was fine as we had bags of time before we got there. At this stage I went over everything including the course map which is here:
We got about 2 miles from the event until we found it impossible to get any closer. My Google Navigation was being unusually rubbish and the signage to get to the event was terrible – I had to pretty much bring up a map on my phone and old school bring us in via visible roads to the event. WE GOT THERE!!! – and still with well over 90 minutes before our start time of 9:20am

We met up with Gareth Macdonald (the C2C2C bike lender and AFC Masters volunteer/father of player), Ian Percival  (AFC Masters volunteer/father of player), Phil and Lee (from same company as Gaz), Cindy (Gaz’s wife), Brady (Gaz’s son and AFC Masters player) and Phil’s missus. At this point I realised that I was the only person not in their running gear so I glamorously got changed in the back of Gaz’s car which was perfect timing when I was in my boxers and being introduced & shaking hands with Lee.

Gaz was ‘bigging me up’ to his work mates telling them about what I’ve completed this summer and I felt terrible as I knew my fitness was not as good as it was after my Insanity Workout training and 10 hour swimming sessions – I knew this after my recent runs requiring me to stop occasionally to rest. I told everyone “Trust me guys you’ll be running ahead of me” and was thinking at this stage would I be ok today?

Me and Jonny needed the loos, we ended up using the campers portaloos – not even in Mordor could there exist a more darker evil than what existed in them! That’s all I needed to say about that but felt I needed to remind myself of this dark moment!

We checked in the registration area, got our start numbers and wristbands and headed into the Tough Mudder village camp. It was pretty quiet as we were some of the first people in there and so we headed off close to the starting mustering point, only after we permanent markered our numbers onto our heads (and the back of Jonnys perfectly round head).
The final call for the 9:20 wave was announced, luckily we were already there waiting (reminding me of how unlike my Great North Swim with me turning up on the very last call for my wave with me still in my trainers and a half zipped up wet suit). At this point I realised how actually COOL the organisers were, cracking jokes and making us feel part of something special and prestigious. The guy on the microphone pointed out that two guys who came in fancy dress who didn’t even know each other, one was Hulk Hogan, the other Stone Cold Steve Austin and made them wrestle haha!

Here he made us do some funny stuff to get us in the mood then a fitness guy got us doing some warmups to get our hearts pumping. After this we ran to the start line and over a small practice 6ft wall (with me thinking this was the first obstacle – embarrassing ginger).

This part was SOOOO cool! The guy on the mic knew how to ramp people up and that’s what he did with stuff like making us do the Mudder Pledge, shouting things such as “I do not whine…. kids whine” and “When I say Tough you say Mudder” and “When I say No, you say Quitting” and it felt amazing jumping up with everyone in the loud roar of everyone shouting. A nice touch was at this part where the guy made us cross our arms over our heads and said if we see someone in trouble we need to stop and do this to indicate to staff that someone needs assistance and if we find others doing the arm cross sign we must also stop and do the same to quicken the time it takes to get seen. Awesome! It was also amazing to see some people who had done Tough Mudder 12 times and were lauded in front of everyone (even though some of these guys were on their 3rd Tough Mudder in 2 days…. nuts…. something I’d do – my mind’s brewing already for next year).

WE WERE OFF! – with Gaz, Phil and Lee setting off on a quick keen pace but knowing Gaz and how hard he’s trained all year for this and I could appreciate his desire to do this well. For me and from my experience I knew it was better to establish an easy pace and be light on my feet to reduce cramp and burnout which was inevitable anyway. We bumped into the guys who were previously lauded for doing it over 10 times and they were walking uphill, saying “You think these hills are tough guys? Just wait”… Oh god!

Glory Blades
This is a proper wall unlike the practice one haha! I could imagine myself trying to scale it myself but Jonny obliged to help and I kinda “GOT” Tough Mudder which reiterated “Help your fellow man”, so we threw each other over and took turns giving peg ups 🙂 Jonny did a proper hero’s decent over it unlike my two footed slide ha!

Arctic Enema
Basically a skip filled with cold water with a middle bit you had to swim under, I thought just ignore the cold and crack on son! I saw Phil ahead of me go in, then come up just before the middle bit, then went back under again under the middle section – I thought I’d do the same. So I go in – first thought is it’s cold but not as cold as I imagined – perhaps NOT 0°C? This wasn’t the main concern though, I weighed up the middle bit wrongly – I thought it was about a quarter shorter than it actually was and underwater I looked up and felt with my hands that it was still there – and IT WAS PITCH BLACK! At this point I didn’t know how far I had to go, whether I was going forwards or sideways where I wouldn’t be forever under it and unable to surface… I panicked and went forwards a bit more, looked up – still darkness but still pushed my hands up and jumped up and surfaced!!!!

OMG that was horrendous – the GoPro video shows this happening over two seconds!!! – which I just cannot understand in my mind as it absolutely felt like at least 6-8 seconds and I absolutely panicked.
I made this video for my Facebook Page to actually describe how it felt like compared to how it was…

Still – one of the worst obstacles out of the way.

HAHA Ditch
Help your fellow man! Here consisted of 3/4 ditches which were basically sloped 45 degrees which you slide down to a sheer wall. Here you needed your team to help you up and over because it was SO slippery and with nothing to grab onto. Everyone didn’t think about helping it was an automatic response which was a wonderful powerful feeling.

Boa Constrictor
The One I was dreading – we came towards it and noticed that the pipes were just about manageable and I peered inside and could see that there was light at the end and it wasn’t too far to go. The first part was a breeze where even though it was tight I was almost sliding down into the water center area. Next, the second part which was a pipe going up and out of the water. It took quite a bit of time to get out – my only tactic being so constricted was to put my hands together, put them in front of me, dig down with all my strength and pull myself forwards – progress was slow but MAN how happy I was to see a hand coming into the pipe to grab mine and pull me out!

Kiss Of Mud
Not too bad this one – you had to get low and scramble under barbed wire low and flat. Even though I had a GoPro on my head I still found it quite easy by using my elbows, digging them into the ground and pulling myself forwards – a tactic I luckily made up and worked like a charm! I got caught on the barbed wire a little but nothing to slow me down or cause any damage!

Hold Your Wood
OK if I said the last one was quite easy I think this one was bizarrely easy – I picked up a log, not necessarily looking for the lightest one and my god it felt like it was a hollow tube – I couldn’t understand it. I went immediately to Jonny to swap and noticed straight away his was significantly heavier (at least three times heavier) but still without causing me any problems carrying it. I carried Jonny’s on my shoulder and Jonny carried mine under his arm like it was a small puppy ha! – We carried them and did a short lap of this field – it felt a bit pointless this one.

Balls to the Wall
Now you’re talking son! Around 4 meters high we scaled this monster and loved it, but not loving it more than Jonny who after we completed it and stopped at the water and protein refueling station right next to it he DID IT AGAIN! Legend haha! It was OK to do it again as Ian at this stage realised he had a HUGE blister on his foot. He wasn’t wearing any socks which he admitted later was a huge error and his blister formed, popped and bled in the time since we started. I for one know what it’s like WALKING on blisters after the Coast to Coast but to run and take on obstacles through it is INSANE! Massive respect to the guy. After getting his foot seeing to we were on our way.

Cliff Hanger
This consisted of a steep cliff we needed to ascend which required you to find your footing right on craggy rocks, plants etc. If you slipped you’d fall a long way and it would hurt – A LOT! Luckily I love stuff like this so I scaled it as quickly as I could – which was pretty quick! LOVING IT SO FAR!! Then the battery on my first GoPro went so I had to wait until I met up with Cindy to get the second GoPro off her and until then there was no more footage. I didn’t meet up with Cindy for another 30 minutes until Electric Eel.

Hanging Tough
OK as well as Boa Constrictor I was also dreading this one – I practically already agreed that I wasn’t going to be able to do this one. I’ve seen Gladiator’s Hang Tough too many times to know what happens – you go down unless you’ve got really good upper body strength.
GladiatorHang Tough
I think there were about 7-8 pairs of rings, you can see Lee here doing it on an official Tough Mudder photograph:
Jonny goes first and after a couple of rings he loses all momentum, is going nowhere and goes into the deep water below. Crap I’m going to follow him in – guaranteed! I go for it, quickly learning that I need to have one hand on each separate row of rings, NOT both rings on the same row otherwise you’d lose momentum and wouldn’t be able to get going again. The problem was that the rows were quite apart from each other, so I relied on my swing and momentum to get me forwards. I start off pretty well – beginners luck but I started getting the hang of it. I got to row 6 and I started losing momentum and then I had to start pulling with my arms and shoulders to make a bigger swing so I could reach for the next ring. Each time the ring is harder and harder to get to and I need more and more swing and power – Oh God my arms are killing and energy is zapping away, the last row I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT – I needed to swing really far to make it to the landing bit which was miles further away than I predicted…. BOOM everyone grabs me and pulls me in! YES!!!! I would have gone in without them… but I DID IT! I could not honestly believe what just happened – convinced I couldn’t do it. I wrote a lot about this one because this goes to prove that with a bit of training and some solid mental grit you can do anything and I did just that – with a little help from the boys. No GoPro footage for this though – damn! 🙂

Mud Mile
This was tough… and very muddy. Basically the same as the obstacle HAHA Ditch but with a lot of mud and each pit in between was filled with thick mud which went up past your ankles. There were about 4-5 “mud-ditches” to get over and each needed your fellow man to help you up and be pulled over. We still had a bit of energy at this point so we didn’t have any problems – just getting through this took time as at times you were waiting for people ahead of you to go first and you were just stood, waiting, ankle deep in mud – lovely!
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Soggy Bottom
I don’t really remember this – I think I must have assumed I was still part of the Mud Mile but there was supposed to be a lot of deep mud. At one point we had a huge muddy hill we slid down on our bottoms which was awesome so if it was not this bit I’m still telling you we did this bit and it was ace! It was like this picture but longer and constant.

Just The Tip
Again I weighed this up and questioned my upper body strength. You pretty much relied on your arms and hung off some wooden parts high up on a wall and you swung across without anything to stand on. Still, I managed to do this which was fantastic and surprising.

Electric Eel
Approaching this you hear the screams of large grown men – I heard from Ian Percival that the last time he did Tough Mudder North West the electric wasn’t as powerful as the Electroshock Therapy at the end – so I wasn’t expecting it to hurt too much if I did get zapped. Jonny went first at a fast sploshing crawl and heard no screams from him so I ferociously went through it, half way thinking yeah I’m doing OK… then BANG not only did I get zapped but IT WAS the FULL 10,000 volts of electricity – and then BANG again another one straight after it. It really REALLY hurt and I could only just keep thinking of carrying on just so I could get out of there – then right at the end BANG again! Three full on ZAPS on my back which I can only describe as taking a solid punch from a strong guy. I learned from Phil and Jonny that they managed to avoid getting zapped!! Lucky for some!!! The pain was still there for sometime afterwards but the adrenaline just powered me on and we proceeded onto the next obstacle – Oww Though 😦
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Hero Carry
Jonny and I decided to take this on, a decent distance where we took turns carrying each other. We were both matched for weight and so I went first carrying Jonny and I started ok until my legs got tired and I was taking very small steps. Then at the halfway point it was Johnny’s turn to carry me – and what does he do? – He fireman’s lifts me with absolute ease haha! It was really funny and I told him he was my hero and was very gentle and squeezed his ass in front of other Tough Mudders who said we were having way too much fun.

Hero Walls
I really struggled with this one – there was only two… I think… and the first wasn’t so bad because I overheard those guys who had done TM over 10 times – remember the guys who got lauded by the guy with the mic and I was talking to at the beginning about steep hills – man they were right about them! Anyway, I overheard them say to use the A-Frame part of the wood to stand up on and to get over, rather than taking it on at the center.
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Anyway with a little help from two of my team members I managed to get over the first one without much problem even though the top of the wall was very slippery and muddy so you needed to take extra care. But the second one I couldn’t get a grip at all and Gaz came to the rescue and I was able to get my hand onto the top of the wall, up and over it. Quite a difficult obstacle this one.
I didn’t have my GoPro running at this point which I must have forgot at the time but Jonny and I did do this quick mid-review of our whole progress video afterwards.

Mud Mile Continued
This hit me by surprise – thinking that we had already done this bit I didn’t even notice that there was a bigger returning part to it on the other side containing between 5-6 muddy ditches. This took a long time to get through but we had lots of fun getting through them apart from Jonny when I was pulling him up the second to the last one and I pulled him so hard he went flying over the ditch and into the final mud pool pit head first. He got mud in his only good eye (as Jonny is partially sighted) and lost bearing of which way to go. I had to pull him out and direct him over to a supervisor who he wiped his eye on his t-shirt then got his eye properly cleaned by a medical guy just up the hill where I saw some bits of grit coming out of his eye! I tried to point where it was and nearly put my muddy finger in his eye! God I was supposed to be there for my fellow man, not permanently blind him!
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Island Hopping
I honestly thought I’d have a good chance of this one. Jonny and I were quite far back at this stage as the rest of our team had ran on. Jonny was getting cramp in his legs so I stayed with the legend so that he could try and walk it off. When we got there the rest of our team were already waiting for us on the other side – I assumed the team were able to do this. I watched two guys I didn’t know complete it without falling in – watching and learning their tactics. As I was waiting for Jonny, doing his first and second islands people on the other island hoppings started falling off. This was not good for my confidence but as always I’d give it my best shot. I climbed onto the first island from the shore area and took my time getting onto the second island – wow it was so wobbly and uneven. I took my time and tried to concentrate on getting to the third island, until I realised my footing was crap and not in the exact center of the island – SPLOSH in I went! At this point I could see Jonny still going on! Go On Pal!!! I swam up to him, still going for it until at last I saw him slowly going over…. I swam as hard as I could shouting “I’M COMING JONNY. I’M COMING FOR YA” but I was too far away to hold onto the side for him and SPLOSH in he went too. If I was but a bit closer I could have saved him! I got out, went to the rest of the team and learned that ALL OF THEM FELL IN! Ha so I didn’t feel THAT gutted even though it was my first obstacle failure of the day.

Creek Crusade
Here we came to a narrow but longish (15m) stretch of open muddy water which we had to jump into and swim across. Jonny spectacularly bombed in but with having my GoPro filming on my head I jumped in like a 5 year old boy keeping the GoPro safe. BOOM this was my element open water swimming, flying through it until I saw one of the supervisor/lifeguards looking worried, shouting “Keep swimming… come on”.. I thought surely not at me until I saw a guy near me REALLY struggling. I thought Christ he looks in real danger with his face barely over the level of the water. I was ready to go back for him and pull him in but he managed to keep his head over water and somehow crawled his way to the climbing out area. Probably the first time in the day I thought wow someone could have been in a bad way. Unfortunately for Jonny his cramp was so bad at this stage I needed to lie him down and push on his legs to get some normality back into them. At this stage we were just walking……

Walk The Plank
BOOM I could not wait for this one – again anything involving open water and jumping into it I weirdly enjoy – strange boy. We climbed to the top and it seemed really high up but I wasn’t too nervous. The whole team had gone before me and Jonny so we went up together, waited for the OK, counted to three then………………………… SPLOSH!!!!! I was under for quite a long time and it felt like I went pretty deep – although probably I was only under for a couple of seconds and went down about 3 feet ha!
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Bale Bonds
Erm, pretty pointless this one. I was expecting something like the image below…
….but this was me below… a bit of a difference and not really an obstacle – nothing really to say here…. meh!
You can still here my girly voice loving it though as I was still in such a good mood and didn’t want the challenge to end.

Some of the guys en-route to Everest

Running through the woods en-route to Everest

The mighty Everest obstacle, the one that Tough Mudder are most proud of and is splattered onto every video they do. I thought I’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting this right. Phil and Lee went straight up which was incredible and I thought I’d have a decent chance here. Gaz, Ian and Jonny failed on their first attempt…. so I put my full absolute speed into it, hands pumping in front of me as if I was a ginger Usain Bolt, flew up the ramp… and my last footing hit something slippery, the arms from above trying to grab me but I fell…. and I could hear the whole crowd behind me shouting “AWWWWWWW”…. “THANKS” I shouted “I did that one for the camera”…. no laughs…. embarrassing haha OK I’ll have another go. Next up Gaz, Ian and Jonny all fly up on their second attempts… OMG the pressure if I didn’t do it I’d feel horrible. So off I go, pumping fast but this time thinking about not slipping and my final footing – the lads are all there with arms out  – I jump early and BOOM they grab me… but it’s not over and I start to fall back down but they hold on tight and pull me up, one arm grabbing in between my legs and ass and pulling me up – YES! The team spirit was AMAZING! I felt so close to the boys and felt incredible for them helping and pulling me up! It was a very strange but wonderful feeling and situation to be in. Wow really good haha! Then we made it down towards our final obstacle and towards the finish line. At this point Ian Percival, having done the Tough Mudder previously went on a special Legionnaire’s Route which involved a final half mile course involving 3 secret obstacles and also Fire in the Hole which replaced our final Electric obstacle.
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Electroshock Therapy
The final obstacle, we were running back towards the Tough Mudder Village Camp hearing the microphone of the guy entertaining the guys inside. We were clapped by lots of people as if we were on a marathon with words of encouragement from families we didn’t know such as “well done guys” it was truly wonderful… wonderful until we came face to face with our final challenge. It looked deadly, it looked horrible. I thought we were all going to go together but I think we realised that it would mean being unable to dodge the deadly cables plus I think everyone was desperate to finish!
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Phil went first and without me knowing Jonny pulled up his hood and went for it closely followed by Gaz. I had no idea where they were and by the time I realised they had gone, Lee was looking at me – So I went for it, fast at first until I realised wow I need to dodge these cables… and I was doing so well until SNAP one cracked me on my back…. but I made it through. WE DID IT! After high fiving everyone and giving a lot of man hugs and bromance we started to realise that it was over – GUTTED! I learned that Jonny managed to miss getting zapped AGAIN! Haha he said “I’m well insulated” which made me laugh.

I absolutely loved Tough Mudder! What a test of endurance, both mentally and physically! My muscles were completely battered but I realised one thing, the course was never too big for me. I was definitely fit enough and strong enough to do it all along. My worries were never needed – I could have pushed harder and ran faster but it was never about how quick I could do the course in – it was about completing it as part of a team and it made complete sense. I got it now – the team spirit was alive and it was a pleasure and an honour to be part of it! We were given our orange headbands, a bottle of water, a protein bar and a pint of this Famous Grouse ginger ale. I was surprised it wasn’t a pint of beer but it was really refreshing with ice in it – it must have been good as I destroyed it in minutes.
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We did lots more team photos but still at this point Ian Percival wasn’t here. Because he was doing the Legionnaire’s Route he missed the first few team photos. It was a good 5 minutes but at last Ian came in – legend considering he did almost half of it with a horrendous blister which gave him agony all the way round (reminding me of my C2C walk blisters). Ian now earned his two Tough Mudders green headband. Hero!
I needed a shower, a warm one and we saw that there was an area for warm showers but only for campers? For everyone else it was a cold hose. We weren’t for having it and went to the camping area supervisors asking (begging) for some hot shower wristbands. He obliged to our relief and the tiny trickle of hot water was still enough to get a bit of life and energy in us, as well as the mud off us… a lot of it! We collected our Tough Mudder t-shirts and had a couple of beers in the beer tent and at this point the rain came down which for us mattered not as we had done our bit! We were all still so jubilant and full of bromance which was fueled into us from the constant need for each other to complete each obstacle – for me especially Everest!
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Apart from Ian (who already had plans) we all agreed to meet at The Bowling Green in Horwich for some evening beers so Jonny and I left for Horwich.
We had a fantastic evening back in Horwich with some players and coaches from AFC Masters joining us including Angela and Sebastian – until one by one they went home and I had way too much real ale – it was time to go home! What an incredible day – a difficult, testing but the most fun day I’ve ever had with a bunch of legends I’ll not forget! DEFINITELY DOING IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!!

Returning on TowerFM to update and promote my latest challenge

This morning I was invited back on TowerFM to give an update and promote my latest challege as their Twit Face of the day! As a reminder, the feature consists of three songs and then someone comes on to promote a cause and leave a Facebook or Twitter link so that people can find out more information. What was also amazing was the show was also being played live on WireFMPeakFM and WishFM, covering areas of Warrington, Wigan as well as Bolton.


Clip Length: 4 mins 00 secs

Click the speaker icon to listen


Get in! My awesome mate Jonathan Turnbull is now doing the Tough Mudder with me in August

Get in! My awesome mate Jonathan Turnbull is now doing the Tough Mudder with me in August.

We will be taking on most obstacles as part of a team. The two others in our team are volunteers from AFC Masters, the disability football club I coach at.

If anything this is selfishly seen as a quality recruitment to our team. We’ll need as much power and fitness as possible from each team individual and this guy is QUALITY. Plus I’ll be able to training with him up to the event, right after the C2C2C challenge.


Training Schedule Done!

So I’ve done a first attempt or draft at my training schedule which can be viewed from here: Google ICAL Calendar Link

OMG so much to do! I’m going to be so busy all the way up to September. A MASSIVE sacrifice meaning I’m going to miss out on most of the summer relaxing, too many beers etc etc. I can at least look forward to St Bees in July.

With the planning, the biggest thing I have tried to do is fit it around Angela and Seb, although it might not look like it. Most of the evening training is after 7pm so I will be seeing Seb before he goes to bed. There are a lot of weekend commitments that sometimes take up half a day but this was expected training for some of the killer endurance challenges.

It IS SO difficult trying to justify this to Angela as they are both no.1 and my world, They come first but with pool opening times, work and voluntary commitments I have had to put a little bit of family time to the side so I can get the right training done.

Then the question remains Why am I doing these things if they are not as important as family? That’s a tough question to ask. Firstly, my overall lifestyle has changed anyway with fitness and healthy eating which takes up so much time and I cannot have this AND the free time I used to have cuddling on the sofa on a Wednesday watching Emmerdale. The challenges are important to me because things like these were so far away from my grasp a couple of years ago and I feel that now is the right time to attack it whilst I am still young and the time before we start having sprog number 2 and 3.

Angela is so supportive and understands what this means to me. I’ll go through this training schedule again with her and I’ll move things around to ensure that we can have maximum family time whilst keeping this strict training program.

Charity Donation Pages Set Up!!! What’s next?

OK so the five charity donation pages have been setup.

I have setup a joint event donation page for both the 1,000 length swim challenge and Great North Swim which can be found here –

The Coast to Coast to Coast Challenge charity donation page can be found here –

The Tough Mudder Challenge charity donation page can be found here –

The Great North Run charity donation page can be found here –

The next things I need to do are:

  • Setup training plans for all five events
  • Work out cost of equipment hire, nutrition, B&Bs etc
  • Contact the local media for promotion
  • Contact big local companies for sponsorship possibilities

Still lots to do – this is becoming relentless and almost too big to manage on my own before I’ve done any actual training!!!

So I’m doing the Tough Mudder this year

So I’ve decided to enter the Tough Mudder this year (Sunday 3rd August) with two of the dad’s of AFC Masters who also help out a lot with the training etc. What is the Tough Mudder? :-

Tough Mudder events are hardcore obstacle courses designed to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.


Click here to see the obstacle I’ll have to tackle when doing it.

MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE? Ian Percival did it last year and told me how NOT EASY this even really is. Gaz has already started training for it which is starting to make me feel uneasy. Most people even slightly involved in fitness has heard of Tough Mudder – How the hell do you plan for an event like this and am I ready to do such an event?

Well to start with, I completed a suitability test on the Tough Mudder website and I got the following results:

Image84 – erm… well that’s an OK score… isn’t it? Just making the grade…. Here’s another number, 78 and according to the Tough Mudder website “Only 78% of entrants successfully complete each challenge“. So nearly a quarter don’t make it????

OK I’ll need to do a lot of training. Going back to my question of how do you plan for an event like this, there is a Maybe Mudder Boot Camp PDF which has lots of training drills etc I should be doing daily. I don’t think I’ll start this right away as I’m doing my Insanity Workout stuff which will see me into March. Then I’ll look at starting this in April since it’s in August.

This will be a great event if I complete it (hears last four words repeated/echoed in head over and over again).