250 adrenalin-addicts took on the Muddy Mucker challenge on Sunday 10 April, raising funds for local charity Rennie Grove Hospice Care and getting covered in mud!
The sun shone for the Muddy Mucker, which took place at a professional assault course venue in Chiswell Green and was Rennie Grove’s toughest fundraiser yet. With over 30 obstacles across a 5 mile course, participants’ strength and stamina were tested to the limit.
The event saw individuals, colleagues, families and friends tackling obstacles, such as tunnels, mud crawls, monkey bars, rope swings and a tyre wall – and lots of muddy water!
Among those taking part was Mark Hayward who was in a team with Bren Parkins-Knight, Kirsten Whitehouse and Keely Hart, all from St Albans. Mark says: “I did the trial run of the course and enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it for real.”
“It was a great event, both fun and challenging, and the weather was a lot better today than at the trial run”, he added at the finish. “There was also the added bonus that it’s so local and is raising money for such an important charity.”
St Albans resident, Chris Gray, also took part in a team – the Linden Loonies – and was joined by James Dalrynple-Smith, Julie and Neil Kemp, James Barker and Berangere Bouillon. Chris says: “It was really good fun and I would definitely take part again. The marshals and supporters were fantastic and really encouraging, so full credit to them for giving up their Sunday to help out. There were a lot of obstacles in the muddy water which were great – just when I thought I was nearly finished there was another water obstacle!”
Also commenting on theses obstacles was Rachel Moffat who was joined by family member, Juliet Davis. Rachel says: “I really liked the sections of the course in the muddy water – they were definitely my favourite and there was no way of avoiding the mud! We’ve both taken part in the St Albans Half Marathon before, and I’ve done 10ks and a triathlon, but this is our first obstacle challenge. There were a great mix of obstacles and the camaraderie was brilliant.
“We wanted to have fun but also support a local cause at the same time. We both live in St Albans so are familiar with the fantastic work that Rennie Grove does. There’s a strong chance that a family member or a friend will need to use the charity’s services at some point in the future, so we wanted to support such a valuable cause.”
Also recognising the importance of the charity was Nick Taylor and friends Paul Wynn and Sam Ridgwell from St Albans. “I’ve taken part in Rennie Grove’s Herts 10K before and found out about this new fundraising event through their newsletter. I thought, ‘why not?’ as it’s local and I knew it would be great fun. It was the perfect opportunity to support Rennie Grove again.”
There was a real sense of team work at the event and school friends, Joe Beaton and Si Chan, were tackling the course together. Joe, from St Albans, knew of Rennie Grove already through work connections. "When I was working for the NPA in St Albans," he explained, "they were supporting Rennie Grove. I heard about the charity's first Muddy Mucker back in November 2014 and I took part in that, which was great fun." Joe has sandwiched his 40th birthday, which he celebrates on Wednesday, between two muddy mucker-style events, taking part in Rennie Grove's Muddy Mucker today (April 10) and signing up for another, similar challenge next weekend. "My worst fear is the monkey bars!" he admitted. Si was happy to accompany him; the only disappointment for his children was that they weren't able to join in as well! But they cheered their dad round the 5 mile course and marvelled at how muddy he was by the end.
Ollie New from Harpenden took part with his stepdad, Ray Marshall. “This is the first time I’ve taken part in one of Rennie Grove’s events, but I have done similar things before so was keen to sign up. It was really well-organised and there were a great variety of obstacles. It was nice too that it was all in one place so that my Mum could wander round the course and take photos of us completing the obstacles.”
The first participants back, after only 53 mins, were Geoff Taylor and John Casson from St Albans. Geoff says: “It was definitely tough! I’m tall, so I didn’t have a problem with the depth of the water or some of the obstacles, but the climbing walls were quite challenging. It was also difficult to get out of the water because the bank was so slippery! The marshals were a great help and were really supportive.”
Also tackling the mud for Rennie Grove was Team Phoenix from Hemel Hempstead, which was made up of Amy and Gavin Jones with nephew Harry Vincent and friends Claire Murray and Steven Fowles.
Amy said at the start: "This is my first time at this sort of event. Harry suggested it and we thought 'why not?' Rennie Grove supported my mum when her husband was ill and now the charity is helping the mum of our friend and team member, Claire."
After the event, Harry commented: “We did all of the obstacles and didn’t skip any – there was never any doubt of that! It was challenging, but great fun. I think my favourite obstacle was the last one, going underneath the cargo net. The monkey bars were hard though!”
There was a real sense of camaraderie at the Muddy Mucker and, another group joining Team Phoenix was Gilbert's Girls, also from Hemel Hempstead. The 11-strong team was led by personal trainer Claire Gilbert, who is now in her third year all-clear since being diagnosed with cancer aged 29.
Claire says: “I signed up to the Muddy Mucker to raise some sponsorship for Rennie Grove. Although I don't have a personal link to the charity itself, being diagnosed with cervical cancer completely changed my life. I know how important it is to get the right support from charities such as Rennie Grove. Not just for the people going through the treatment, but for the families and friends around them too.
“After I had completed treatment, I realised that life was a little shorter than we all think, so I decided to qualify as a personal trainer. I am now a successful, self-employed personal trainer running my own business and loving every moment of it. I have met some amazing clients and friends, and support them on their fitness journeys and with their individual goals.”
Claire’s Muddy Mucker team comprised friends and clients, including Sara Talbot who is about to start work as a Healthcare Assistant with Rennie Grove's Ridgeway Hospice at Home nursing team. Sara studied in Uxbridge and spent time with the Rennie Grove nurses on her student placement before deciding she wanted to develop a career in palliative care.
A team from Luker Rowe, Chartered Insurance Brokers from Amersham, joined in the fun too. Toni Chapman, Marketing Executive at Luker Rowe, says: “Rennie Grove is our chosen charity of the year and we want to support them in every way that we can. Our MD, Chris Luker, persuaded us to get a team together for the Muddy Mucker. Most of us in the team are new to challenges like this, but we’re looking forward to it and have already raised over £2,000 in sponsorship so far.”
Staff and customers from Chesham Brewery Shop, The Red Lion and the Jolly Sportsman joined them in the challenge. Megan Wright, Manager of Chesham Brewery Shop, says: “My favourite obstacles were the water ones, they were so much fun. I actually found the running in between the hardest part of the event. It was the first time I’ve taken part in something like this and I would definitely do it again, we all had a great time.”
Also from Chesham, Simon Lewis was joined by Kate Hogg and Peter Wright. "It was great fun - I loved it," he said. "I haven't done anything like it for many years - and I may not repeat the experience for another few years either - but it was great!"
Sisters Kathryn and Jenny O’Gorman from Aylesbury said: "We've done fundraising events before for charities - such as Florence Nightingale Hospice's Midnight Walk and our local Race for Life - but nothing quite like this!" said Kathryn. "We know a little bit about the charity, having previously looked into some of Rennie Grove's other mass-participation events," added Jenny.
Joining them was a mother and son team from Bucks, which saw one of Rennie Grove's nurses take on the challenge. Rennie Grove Hospice at Home nurse Jill Bateman, from Pitsone, ran with son, Daniel Amsbury from Wendover. Daniel had raised over £500 in sponsorship - enough to fund more than a day of round-the-clock care in patients' homes from specialist nurses like his mum. Jill said: "I'm very active - I walk and ride a lot - but I don't really run!" Daniel persuaded her to take part after he successfully completed Rennie Grove's first-ever Muddy Mucker in Green Park in November 2014. "I really enjoyed it," he said at the finish.
Grant & Stone in High Wycombe are also big supporters of the charity and provided the Events Team with much-needed equipment, such as cable ties, and also sponsored the Muddy Mucker running numbers.
Darren House, Marketing Manager at Grant & Stone, took part in the event and says: “This was what I’d call a proper obstacle course! I’ve done Rennie Grove’s previous two Muddy Mucker events and this was definitely the hardest. It was challenging and the water obstacles were hard work, but it was great fun. It was also really well-marshalled and all of the volunteers were really friendly and encouraging.”
Gillian Barnett, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rennie Grove, says: “Thank you to all participants, volunteers and supporters for making the event such a success - it’s fantastic to see a community come together like this. We’re hoping to raise £30,000 in sponsorship, which will fund thousands of hours of specialist care so that more local families can benefit from our 24/7 responsive hospice at home service, as well as the range of Day Services provided at Grove House in St Albans.”
“The event would not have been possible without the support of local businesses so we’d like to say a special thanks to all of our corporate sponsors, including: The Herts Advertiser, Putterills Estate Agents, Dayla, Origin, Fitness First, Regiment Fitness, Grant & Stone, Lee Partridge for compering the event, Darren Glenister and Mark Chamberlain from Assault Course Events for supporting us with the venue and obstacles, and Flame Wood Fired Catering and Kalopsia Coffee for providing participants with much-needed refreshments.”
The Muddy Mucker is one of a variety of mass-participation fundraising events organised by Rennie Grove Hospice Care, which play a key role in helping the charity to raise 85% of its £6.7 million annual costs. Their next event is the Hemel 10K and 1.5K Superhero Fun Run, which will take place on Sunday 10 July at Astley Cooper School, Hemel Hempstead. To find out more about this and other upcoming events, visit www.renniegrove.org/events or call 01442 820740.