Overcoming the Barriers

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Team A-SAFE completes the world’s toughest assault course – and breaks charity fundraising record

Eleven miles of mud, moorland and clay. Twenty-six fiendish obstacles. Thirty-four employees of various ages and athletic abilities from Halifax-based safety barrier specialists A-SAFE.

Just one aim: to complete the grueling Tough Mudder assault course in aid of the company’s chosen charity, Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Billed not as a race, but an exercise in teamwork, camaraderie and personal determination, the Tough Mudder course wound its way around the North Yorkshire countryside; through rivers, across bogs and into dense woodland. At regular intervals along the course were Tough Mudder’s trademark obstacles, which have helped make the brand the most engaged extreme sport in the world, with over two-million past participants.

A-SAFE employees gathered in the warm-up zone at 8:40am, some of them fully prepared for the trials and tribulations ahead following months of disciplined and extensive training – and others who had taken an alternative approach to their preparation and had, maybe, just started to feel a little bit apprehensive.

Yorkshire’s Triathlon World Champion and Olympic medal winner Jonathan Brownlee was on hand to offer encouragement, and soon the event was underway.

Any A-SAFE employees still secretly enjoying an extended Saturday morning sleepwalk were soon woken up by ‘Arctic Enema’ – a slide from height into an ice bath, followed by another icy plunge under tyres in order to resurface on the other side.

‘Birth Canal’ and ‘Cry Baby’ involved commando-like crawling. The former along a tight tunnel, beneath a sheet of plastic with water moving on the top. As the water passed over your back the downward pressure prohibited movement and made for an extremely claustrophobic experience. ‘Cry Baby’ simply had employees crawling through another tunnel as tear gas was pumped inside.

By the four-mile marker, the ground, already heavy underfoot from a week of unseasonal rain, was cutting up and only those in suitable footwear were able to stay upright for any length of time.

Not that this mattered on ‘Mud Mile’ – a series of slippery clay mounds with water either side. The only way this obstacle was passable was through concerted teamwork. A-SAFE employees helped haul each other over the mounds one by one – but those wanting to keep hair and make-up in check were clearly in for a bad day.

Other obstacles, like ‘Funky Monkey’, involved traversing monkey bars (or, more likely, falling from a great height into some muddy water) and ‘King of the Swingers’, which meant jumping for a trapeze and attempting to ring a bell (or, more likely, falling from a great height into some muddy water).

As the miles piled up, it was inevitable that some employees suffered the odd strain, the onset of cramp, or the revenge of some past ailment and dropped off the pace. Despite this, it was important that those that did fall behind took on a different mind-set and battled forward without the encouragement of their workmates.

Back with the main pack, as the event wore on, so the obstacles became tougher, ending with a devilish triptych designed to push even the most hardened Tough Mudder to their limit – especially as the rain began to pour.

‘Everest 2.0’ involved a sprint up a mountainous ramp followed by a leap to reach either a rope or the grabbing hands of team mates on top of the obstacle. As a test for tired limbs, it was borderline cruel!

‘Dead Ringer’ followed, testing the arms like ‘Everest’ tested the legs, as A-SAFE employees used metal hoops to traverse a wooden torture chamber – sorry, climbing apparatus.

Then, finally, there was ‘Electroshock Therapy’ – in front of a large crowd, Tough Mudders needed to pass through a cage with innocuous looking strings hanging from the top. Except they weren’t strings. They were live wires packing 10,000 Volts of electricity. But the shock to aching bodies didn’t stop A-SAFE employees from finally crossing the finishing line beyond.

Completion of the course was a great achievement for every employee, whatever their time – and the knowledge that each individual had contributed towards a company charity fundraising record of over £3,700 enhanced the feeling of satisfaction.

Michelle Foulks, Regional Fundraising Officer at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:

I’d like to say a huge congratulations and thank you to the whole A-SAFE team for not only completing such a grueling challenge but also managing to smash their fundraising target. An amazing effort by all! The money raised will go towards funding vital research projects to help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.

It is still possible to donate to A-SAFE’s fundraising efforts for Yorkshire Cancer Research via JustGiving: please visit justgiving.com/A-Safe-UK