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Cranbrook hosts Dirty Rotten Scramble's obstacle course The Great Southern Mud Run

It’s thought to be one of the most challenging obstacle courses in the south east of England with a series of mud, water and hills.

Here’s how reporter Temi Adedeji got on after he was sent to tackle Dirty Rotten Scramble’s Great Southern Mud Run in Cranbrook.

Reporter Temi Adedeji
Reporter Temi Adedeji

I shook off my nerves as competitors plastered on Army face paint. Competitors milled around as they geared up for the start of the race.

Given the options of the 5k, 10k and 30k when I signed up, any reasonable person would choose to do the 5, right?

Not this reporter. I wanted to challenge myself and see what I was really made of - besides, five, 10 or 30, it all sounded the same to me (my maths has never been great).

Going for the 10k was a decision I seriously began to reconsider once I took in the vastness of the green space at Hole Park in Rolvenden near Cranbrook.

I’m far from the fit rugby player I used to be; my days of running down the wing and scoring tries are long gone, I was in hell and I knew it.

Bottom left, Gemma Catt and her teammates before the race
Bottom left, Gemma Catt and her teammates before the race

Before the race I ran into Gemma Catt, a 33-year-old personal trainer from Tenterden, running with her team.

It would also be her first time taking on the obstacle course, she said: "I love running and I love team events, and it’s just a massive challenge.

"We’ve done a fair bit of training, so we do a lot of cross-country running.

"Ben Tompsett, he’s our team leader, he takes us on some wicked cross-country routes, we’ve been building up to about 16 miles a day, so we’re ready."

Ben Tompsett, a 46-year-old farmer from Rolvenden, said: "I’ve been running for about six or seven years.

Ben Tompsett led his team through the race
Ben Tompsett led his team through the race

"I’m feeling good at the moment, a little bit nervous, I got to say, we’ve been on the runs and training for it, so we’re pretty much ready."

Some competitors had a steely look in their eye whilst they stretched and warmed up, others looked as though they were on a day out at a county fair.

Many runners turned up in teams with unified kits to represent their various groups, whilst others chose to brave it alone.

We all huddled together for the beginning of the race, and with the piercing sound of an air horn, we were off.

The first part of the course was an eye-opener, after 500m or so we were greeted by our first water obstacle, a pond which we all had to swim through.

Reporter Temi Adedeji
Reporter Temi Adedeji

All the runners bunched up as they dropped into the murky water; I almost swallowed a gallon of it as I front crawled my way through, it’s not my fault I didn’t think it would be that deep.

The race followed a similar pattern of flat runs, hills, swims and obstacles which he had to be conquered.

After a while I began to forget about the fatigue in my legs and got into what’s called the "zone."

It’s an ethereal experience, your body goes into autopilot and performs its duties on behalf of the mind.

It’s almost like the the outside world is shut and it just becomes you vs you.

Runners celebrate in the pond
Runners celebrate in the pond

It was swimming through maybe pond number four where I had an epiphany.

Life is full of challenges and obstacles just like the race, you don’t know what’s coming, but you have to deal with whatever comes your way.

There’s no other option but to keep going, well you could always quit and that leads me to my second realisation, the power of support.

There were countless times during the race where I would stop to a walking pace to catch my breath.

Many competitors who I didn’t know would encourage me, willing me on to keep going.

Runner going under the barbed wire crawl
Runner going under the barbed wire crawl

In one instance I got my foot stuck in clumps of muddy marshland by the end of a pond, to which a runner pulled me up and out by hand.

I realised the value of teamwork as challenges are always easier to tackle when you have someone by your side.

With 3km to go I was delighted to see the water and sweets stand.

I’ve had a terrible sweet-tooth since I was child, this led me to scoff down at least a quarter of the tub of Haribo provided.

A couple more hills, a swim, and a barbed wire roll later and I was done! I had completed the race, just about, but felt like I had gone a journey, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Gary Laye after the run
Gary Laye after the run

I later found out that I came 39 out of 124 competitors, a feat which I never expected.

After the race I caught up with Graham Lowe, a 54-year-old driving instructor, who said: "I really enjoyed it, a lot of the trail races don’t have water in it, I liked the variety and the swims, the whole outfit is really good.

"I did it last year, so I would definitely do it again, it’s one of my favourite trail races.

"The main benefit, I think is anyone can do it, it doesn’t matter whether you run it, walk a little bit, both, it’s just a great challenge.

"Everyone can wander around, get a medal and have a sense of achievement, I think it’s great."

Runners swimming in a pond
Runners swimming in a pond

Race director Sam Winkworth said: "After the last couple of years we’ve all had, it’s really important to get outside more, laugh more and remind yourself how awesome your body is!

"Now, I’m considering whether to do two or three events a year or continue with it annually."

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