My name is Russell Williams and I am a hobby runner at best. I, like most, have a full time job and a family however I like to take time out and challenge myself and at times use my events to raise money for charity.

In September 2017 I decided to sign up for Toughest Mudder 2018 knowing that it would be my biggest challenge to date both mentally and physically. The event took place in early May and is only the second time Tough Mudder has held this style of event in the UK. The challenge is to run a five mile Tough Mudder course as many times as possible through the night with the event starting at midnight and running until 8am!

The months that followed meant I had to step up my training from just the running I had been doing to include all aspects of fitness and include some night time running as the event was to take place through the night.

Arriving on site on event day the rain had started to fall at 9pm and was due to continue until 4am. This meant runners were in for a very muddy and cold night. Excitement grew as the midnight start grew closer and the competitor tent became a hive of activity. At 11.45pm, with head torches on and no more prep time available, out into the rain 735 competitors went.

15 minutes later, after being whipped up into a buzz of excitement and taking the Tough Mudder pledge, we were off.

 

Lap one was a sprint lap with no obstacles open for the first hour to spread the runners and reduce the chance of queues. My first two laps (10 miles) felt great and were done by 2am so after a short break in the pit area where my brother gave me a warm drink and food, I set off for lap three. Issues with cramp in my left leg started after a couple of miles leaving me concerned whether I was in danger of not achieving my goal of six laps (30 miles). Getting back into the pit area around 3.30am I took on much more fluid and bowl of Weetabix which never tasted so good!  Lap four got worse with spells of cramp in both legs and abs. In addition, the rain was making for a very muddy course in some areas, making running or even walking through it very tough going. Obstacles such as 'Everest', all created their own challenges on both the body and mind. The course was far emptier now than it had been due to a number of runners deciding they had had enough. I knew my target though and it was still possible I just needed to push on. 

Having mentally battled to the end of lap four at 5.30am the course was now getting light and spirits rose as running became a little more confident with better visibility. I had three hours left to complete my last two laps as runners were allowed until 8.30am to complete the lap they are on for it to be officially counted. I can only guess that the additional fluid and the light made a difference.  By lap five, my cramp had gone and I was feeling as good as I guess you can six hours into an event having completed 20+ miles and 40+ obstacles. My biggest dilemma came at the end of lap five.

It’s now 7am, lap five took 1 hr 25 and I only had 1 hr 30 to complete a final lap and get my target. So the question was, do I think I can push my body out on the course one more time? Do I think I can get it back before the finish line closes at 8.30am? I of course had no option but to try.

I have to thank the four unknown strangers who I ran with during that last lap as the random conversation and typical fellow Mudder camaraderie helped more than they will know. I only hope that they feel the same and that I helped them in some way too. Arriving at Everest my heart sank as no competitors were at the top to assist anyone up which resulted in me having to skip the obstacle and take the most difficult penalty lap on the course wasting precious time I felt I didn’t have.  At this point I felt I wasn’t going to get home in time. All I could do was keep trudging on.

After speaking with another runner, I lost all concept of time and was only 400 meters and two obstacles from the finish line with 20 minutes to go. Wow, I felt amazing knowing that, baring a potential electric shock from the obstacle named 'Operation', I was home, I had done it, achieving my target of 30 miles!

Crossing the line at 8.16am was a great feeling, I was one of a few that had been out there all night. I would now be able to return home and tell everyone that I had done it, achieved what I had set out to achieve, running seven miles more than I have ever run before and through the night as well!!

I have been so well supported by friends and family as well as Family Fund who have helped me to raise a fantastic £720. I really hope that the money helps support the great work Family Fund do in supporting families whose challenges are far bigger than anything I faced during my eight hours on the Toughest Mudder course.