MORE than 17,000 people tackled a 12-mile assault course designed by the special forces at the Culden Faw estate in Hambleden.
Participants in the Tough Mudder challenge, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, had to run 12 miles and overcome more than 20 obstacles.
Click here to view our picture gallery of competitors or click here to watch our video report on the event..
Each obstacle was designed to test their nerves as well as their strength and fitness. The competitors had to:
• Crawl on their bellies under a barbed wire mesh before jumping into a tank of ice-cold water to swim under a barrier.
• Climb over walls more than 2m high and crawl through narrow plastic pipes filled with muddy water.
• Crawl through mud to dodge live electrical wires which gave them a shock if they touched them.
• Run a mile through waist-deep pits of mud.
• Leap off a 12ft platform into a pool of water below.
• Climb along monkey bars suspended over icy water and a series of trenches filled with mud.
• Scale “Everest”, a 15ft slippery, concave slope.
• Run through a second corridor of live wires before crossing the finish line.
The course contained half a million litres of mud and the uphill sections involved a total climb of 2,539ft.
Medics were on standby throughout the weekend and treated dozens of competitors for cuts, bruises and sprains.
Participants came from all over the UK, including some from the Henley area, and there were about 6,000 spectators.
Laurence Morris, who owns Laurence Menswear in Duke Street, Henley, took part with his nephew Jacob Alfred, 19.
The pair entered as Team Laurence along with Tim Townley, Tom Squire, Sam Keywood, Charlie Bolton and Charlie Jones, Mr Alfred’s former classmates from the Piggott School in Wargrave.
Nigel Pinnock of Roy Robson clothing, who supplies Mr Morris’ shop, also took part.
They raised £1,000 for Help For Heroes.
Mr Morris, 52, said: “My nephew suggested entering at a family gathering last Christmas and it all went from there.
“I go to the gym a few days a week anyway but in the seven weeks before this I’d go for an hour every day before opening the shop.
“I was as fit as I could have been but there’s no way you can prepare for what you have to go through. It was just unbelievable.
“We attempted all the obstacles although there were some we couldn’t complete. I couldn’t get a grip on the monkey bars and fell into the water. A few of the team completed everything but it was a joint effort and we all helped each other. The toughest part was actually the running between obstacles. Every step took an enormous amount of effort because you were just running through feet of mud.
“I’m immensely proud of everyone who completed it, not just our team, but I don’t think I will be doing it again.”
Also taking part were the Mudder Fudders, a team of Henley residents who attend various running and fitness groups around the town.
They were Anna Morgan, 46, Jo Lock, 47, Carrie Hoskins, 46, Dan Cubbage, 24, Katherine Rees, 40, Anette Crick, 48, Charlie Cubbage, 19, Patrick Courtney, 47, Nick Kemp, 50, Peter McNaughton, 60, and Polly Kemp, 45. Ms Kemp, of Berkshire Road, said: “When we heard Tough Mudder was coming to Henley we just thought we had to do it.
“It was very tough because you’re literally running up and down hills the whole time so it takes its toll on your body.
“The obstacles were psychologically challenging as much as anything else. Some were pretty frightening but we had a go at all of them.
“I found the jump into water surprisingly scary but the person in front of me leapt straight in and I just followed them without thinking.
“I’m not sure I could have done it if I’d hesitated even for a second.
“The electric shocks at the end also really hurt, no matter what anyone says. I got zapped a few times but I just ran straight through it. We had a bash at Everest but unfortunately I didn’t make it, although I got really close.
“We’ll probably have another go next year. It was a great team-building event and we felt like a proper unit at the end. I absolutely loved it and possibly enjoyed it more than most people.”
Team Laurence and Mudder Fudders both finished in about four-and-a-half hours.
A team of 15 Hambleden residents calling themselves Wii Un-fit, a pun on the computer game, also took part.
They included Troy Twigger, 22, whose father Roy manages the neighbouring Fawley Hill estate.
Team member Conor O’Shea, 21, ran despite having broken several ribs while training for the event. He said: “It was tough running with my injury but I got through it with my team’s support. Only seven of us finished the course. We had to leave some of our weakest members at the three-mile mark.
“The terrain was fantastic — the organisers made the hardest possible route because it was either uphill or downhill the whole time.”
Ellie Ottosson, 24, from Watlington, entered with colleagues from her workplace in London.
She said: “People talk it up a lot and say it’s pure pain but they’re just exaggerating. It was so much fun and I definitely want to do it again.
“I skipped two obstacles, including Everest, because I didn’t want to hurt myself but I managed the rest. The hardest one was facing the electric shocks. It’s a mental challenge rather than a physical one. You have to just go for it.”
John Fido, Tough Mudder’s marketing director, said: “We think this weekend has been fantastic and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response.
“The rain beforehand prepared the mud beautifully for the runners but it brightened up in a lovely way on the day.
“People enjoy things like running or cycling but this has given them the chance to challenge themselves in a way that’s completely different.”
Tough Mudder was started in America and is held on dozens of large estates around the world every year.It will return to Culden Faw on May 2 and 3 next year.