Tough Mudder 2012

Bored by running? Want a group event that gets your heart racing and the blood pumping? Look no further than Tough Mudder. The ads for this have been hanging around on Facebook’s ads on my page for about a year, but it was only today I became intrigued. On one half it reminded me of our activity centre days– high ropes, canoeing, swimming and climbing all rolled into one. Then I noticed the nettle net and the ‘Turd’s nest’.  The conclusion I drew was- this is no standard activity day!

12 miles of obstacles, this is no normal muddy race. Designed by the Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie this is an event that is all about team spirit and fun. You don’t go in to win, you go in with the mindset of fun. You can’t even compete it solo- you need a team to haul you through.

And just what they haul you through as well!

Greased up monkey bars. Icy rivers. Steep, imposing walls. Hay bales. A net of nettles for you to crawl belly through.
And more. Clue- it involves ‘waste matter’. I’ll spare the rest for all you lunch eaters reading.
If you want to compete it’s about £80 a ticket or you can compete for charity (Help For Heroes is their charity of choice.)

You can also watch for £10, prebooked, or volunteer.

So, who’s in for Tough Mudder 2012? If you  want to compete and need a warm up before the day – try a climbing course, activity day or get used to icy water in the water rapids at www.goactivities.co.uk !

Scary Sports Special

"It's okay mate...It's only ghyll scrambling. Don't lose your hair over it..."

Halloween is all about scaring yourself. Or if you’re under 12, getting sweets aka ‘candy’ from unsuspecting neighbours normally ignored or avoided.

But as an adult, why not take the opportunity of Halloween bravado to do a new, scary, outdoor activity.

Here are the top scary activities that get a ‘I couldn’t’ or an ‘I daren’t’ reaction- with reasons why you should do them!

Pot holing

'The Cheese Grater' hole turns legs to mozzarella...

Pot holing is simply the method of getting into the cave, but when you’re there, a beautiful world of tunnels, caverns, ancient stalagmites, rocks and fossils await you.

The nature and definition of potholing is the method of entering caves via ropes and ladders with full climbing equipment in order to explore the cavern.

Why it’s scary:

  • You may need to lie down and wriggle between walls of the cavern.
  • Falling rocks and rising water as well as incoming water from above can all create a trap in the cavern
  • You can be underground for hours at a time

Why it’s worth it

  • Beautiful peaceful serenity with fossils, stalactites and stalagmites and clear water
  • With a guide you can build into those big caves and you can go down and resurface depending on how confident you are
  • ‘ Surprise claustrophobia’ down in the caves is rare. “In 18 years? I’ve seen it once.” Says Ian Rennie of Go Caving.  “It really is very rare. And the idea is that we are getting people not to be scared, but to enjoy caving. Cavers themselves don’t spend a whole day on their bellies crawling through caves generally, and these sorts of routes again can be avoided. It’s the same with weight. Caving is fine whether you’re 6 foot 8, 16 stone, a rugby player or as slim as a model! We can get you in the appropriate cave as long as you’re relatively fit and healthy and above 8 years old.”

Bungee Jumping

Red bull- an ad slogan with a lot to answer for.

Why it’s scary:

  • You have to face to height of the bungee jump (Around 160-400ft in the UK) and get up there- via a cage.
  • You have to jump- will the cord hold your weight? Will your lunch leap out? What if you chicken out?
  • You’ve heard stories that your eyes can pop out- will yours?

Why it’s worth it:

  • “A bungee jump is just one of those ‘do before you die things.’ Says James Field of UK Bungee. You will be checked over and over and your ropes are one set length. We weigh you before, and fit you with a specifically measured thickness of the rope, so there’s no risk of you falling too far. All our instructors have practical exams and are trained to fully check you, so one will check the ankles, another the harness and the ankles, the next the waist, ankles and harness, and so on, so you are 100% checked.”
  • What about the popping eyes and ejecting lunch? “It’s not a complete myth. I’ve seen in 12 years about 2 people’s eyes bulge out in his manner, and that’s people with weak retinas. As for lunch, just east as you would for any other activity, like running.”
  • And chickening out? “You sadly won’t get your money back…But by that point hopefully you will be ready to jump!”
  • And what about the actual jump? “We take you up in a cage. Your instructor will be with you. Then they will open the gate, stand you on the ledge and count you down, 3, 2, 1 – Bungee. And then you jump. You just need to look at the scenery and then trust the instructor. After that we catch you, unclip you and it’s all over!” Catch our jump here

White Water Rafting

It's amazing what some comedy shark fins can do for a team's speed...

Why it’s scary:

  • The boat could capsize at any time!
  • Getting into a rapid on an inflatable? Are you mad?
  • What if I drift off into the rapids, never to be seen again?

Why it’s worth it:

  • Capsizing in the river on the rapids and rough waters of the UK is inevitable, which in some ways is less scary. A guide will be on hand to tell you how to get back into the boat, and fully trained, they can rescue you in a jiffy.
  • Because the rafts are so big, you can sit with 5 close friends on the raft, so you needn’t be too scared. (At least visibly…)
  • Each person is given a paddle to propel the raft over the water and you also get all the floatation gear you need to stay above the water, so you shouldn’t be in a shallow grave before the day is out so long as you can swim.
  • The UK locations will be fast and furious, but depending on your level of skills, interest and fear, you won’t be taken on the equivalent of Niagra falls for the first time and you are more likely to be on areas of the River Tay, Scotland’s largest river, or The Tryweryn Dam released River in North Wales.

Ghyll Scrambling

Dave's sneezes were always causing havoc near unsteady rocks..

Why it’s scary

  • Gorge scrambling, ghyll scrambling and canyoning e.g. jumping into rivers and becks at a high-adrenaline pace, traversing a river upstream, scrambling over waterfalls or jumping into pools of water as well as a bit of climbing and abseiling too. Doesn’t sound like something for a newbie!
  • Getting wet and grubby. Ghyll scrambling means that you are hitting the river uphill and going to stay relatively dry. It usually involves a steep incline and you will be doing a lot of climbing. Gorge scrambling means that you will be going uphill and you are going to get wet. Canyoning you will be going at a downhill angle and you are going to get wet.
  • Sometimes there are private hydro-flow systems that you could run the risk of interfering with – is it safe?


Why it’s worth it:

  • “When guided it’s not unsafe “says Dan Robinson, head of Real-Adventure in Cumbria “Go with somebody who knows what they are doing. If you go off jumping into pools on your own you will probably need rescuing.” Somebody who is aware of access points. Can avoid those private hydro-flow systems.
  • “Getting wet, the climbing and the scrambling and the jumps into pools is great fun.  Everybody is doing something all in there together. Going up or down – it is a lot of fun.”
  • This is a unique sport that integrates both rock and water in a variety of locations across the UK, including the Lake District, Wales, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Devon. The biggest gorge is the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, for those seeking a real challenge.

So there you go. Some of the real nail biters debunked. Laugh in the face of that Ghyll. Stare down that pothole and master the bungee.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

GO Activities’ Bungee!

A bungee jump, as you may know is a ‘bucket list activity’- something people really want to do but don’t have the money, time or resources to book.

The scenic lake side jump in Tamworth

Or so I thought.

Because as soon as we had one booked with UK bungee for a 160ft crane jump over a lake, to be precise, we couldn’t find many of the people who would do it.

“Don’t envy you mate” or “watch your eyeballs don’t bulge!” or “don’t wear light coloured trousers- haha!” came out a few times. (That last one was my Dad. Charmer.)

There were also plenty of people saying that they would wait until they were in NZ/Australia/Dubai to do a jump. Not now though. Oh no.  Undeterred we wanted to get a slice of the action and UK Bungee where happy to oblige us.

 

The 160ft crane!

Our budding volunteer was Tom Keep, 26, a software developer who has been known on occasion to say ‘I’d love to do that’ on sight of the towering bungee crane. So, presented with a voucher to noises of ‘Well… I actually meant in New Zealand…” – the countdown began.

On the day it was a case of small meals according to James Field, operational manager of UK Bungee.

“Just eat as if you are doing any other sporting event.” An all day brunch it was. Still, what with the weighing, the harness checks and others safety measures, there was plenty of digesting time, best spent watching other leapers!

 

Our brave volunteer is all smiles!

I exclaimed to the UK bungee staff that everyone seemed very keen to do it.

“Oh you just missed one girl who kept leaning out, but then back again. She did it 12 times and then tried to grab back onto the cage as she fell.” Did she catch it? “No!”

In our time waiting, with Tom’s weight in kg scrawled on his hand (weight conscious women beware!) and his legs shackled in the ankle harness we saw more jumpers, including another woman who decided to ‘grab on’. Oh dear. With a bashed head and a mild headache she needed a little attendance- and then it was Tom’s turn! ‘No clinging on!’ I shouted!

Hopping into the cage he was quickly propelled 160ft by the crane driver who has a very unusual job!

As I watched Tom disappear I could only wait for the gate to open. So- over to Tom on how the bungee itself was!

 

 

“You’re quite happy really. You hop in to the cage and that’s fine, and you head up – no problems. Then I was chatting to the guy about where we lived and then suddenly the crane had stopped. He said ‘right, we’re going to have a quick, easy jump, no messing about. I’m going to say 3, 2 , 1 bungee and then off you go, Right?’ And then they opened the gate and I was stood on the ledge. That’s when you look around. You can see how high it really is.”

Where you scared?

“Yeah, definitely. Pretty high on the fear scale!”

And then you jumped?

“Yeah. Think a little swear word popped out. And that was it! I just spread my arms and just did it. It takes some bullying of yourself to leap off!  It felt exhilarating. Really amazing. There isn’t any of the kick back either so that is great, just feels like a gentle bouncing even though it looks painful!”

The leap of faith!

Would you do it again?

“Definitely, 300ft next time!”

And what about as part of a couple?

“I don’t want someone screaming in my ear! No thanks!”

(A couple did strap in together- see below!)

 

 

 

 

A couple strap together for a tandem leap!

So there we have a it. A bungee jump – terrifying, exhilarating, and all over in about 3 seconds.

Are you game?

What would you choose?

A backwards leap?

A forwards fall?

Lovers leap?

Or a solo dive?

Let us know!

You can watch Tom’s jump here!