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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Muddy challenge for Total Warrior competitors

Heavy rain left this year’s already muddy course even more slippery – and therefore challenging – than usual.

But for anyone signed up to Total Warrior, it would take far more than a water-logged course to stop them.

The event, just outside Shap, saw 7,500 competitors tackle the gruelling 10k or 10-mile courses on Saturday and Sunday, with wave after wave of warriors setting off throughout each day.

An army assault course with a twist, Total Warriors have to run between obstacles and find a way across whatever stands in their path. That can be anything from a 10-foot vertical wall to water, fire and even electric shocks.

Participants varied dramatically in age and fitness, but that didn’t matter. A sign at the start tells everyone that it’s about survival, not speed – about pushing yourself and achieving something amazing just by giving it a go.

Teamwork and camaraderie were the name of the game, with friends and even complete strangers working together along the way to make it through.

There was a strong Cumbrian contingent but others came from all over the UK – and the world – to take part in the event, which is held on farmland on the edge of the village. Some did it just for fun while others raised money for charity – including Help for Heroes and the Great North Air Ambulance.

Although it was tough, the vast majority really went for it and said the sense of achievement as they crossed the finish line would be difficult to top. It’s no wonder many of them come back every year.

Among them was a team from the Carlisle Sheepmount Running Club. A total of 44 took part and most have vowed to be return in 2015.

Their first member back was Matthew Bradley, 18, from Carlisle, who came eighth in his wave after completing the course in a speedy one hour two minutes.

He said: “I did it last year and really enjoyed the challenge. We all know each other from the Sheepmount. We meet every Tuesday and Thursday to train.

“It was harder this year. There were some new obstacles but I still managed it a minute faster than last time, so I’m happy.”

Rachel Halliburton, 41, from Carlisle, completed the course in one hour 40 minutes. “We all just love it – the banter and the buzz of taking part. We’re one big team but split into little groups going round,” she said.

Joanne Hazel, 33, Carlisle, did it in one hour nine minutes. She said: “It’s great fun getting dirty and muddy and being a warrior for the day.”

The women, who have both taken part in Total Warrior before, agreed that the hardest obstacles were the walls – including a new vertical wall – but said it was worth doing just for the amazing muddy slides.

A group of 21 competitors from Creighton Rugby Club in Carlisle were raising money for the RFU Injured Players Foundation after one of their own – veteran player Barry Scott – broke his neck in a match late last year.

The team’s sports therapist Kathryn Osborne said the team included players, family members and friends. Despite varying fitness levels she said they all made it round, with everyone bringing their own strengths.

“It was great. We’re all a bit battered and bruised but every one of us completed it. That’s all that matters,” she said.

A team from Cumbria’s LetGo Domestic Violence Service were among those who also completed the course for local charities.

Cumbrian competitor Chris Lightburn, of Windermere, retained his Total Warrior Super 10 title for a third year running. This means he raced both days and achieved the lowest combined time. Only two per cent of entrants complete both the 10k and 10-mile challenges.

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