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Last Updated: Wednesday January 07 2009 06:01 GMT

In pics: Mud racers trudge through sludge

Competitors take part in the Maldon Mud Race in Maldon, Essex on January 4, 2009 (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

If you've been feeling the cold over the past few days, imagine putting on a wetsuit, swimming across an icy river... then crawling through a huge heap of mud!

Competitors take part in the Maldon Mud Race in Maldon, Essex on January 4, 2009 (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Well, that's what 250 people in Essex did, for the annual Maldon Mud Race.

Competitors take part in the Maldon Mud Race in Maldon (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The tradition began over 30 years ago after a pub manager promised a free drink to anyone who could cross the muddy water - and get back again!

Competitors take part in the Maldon Mud Race in Maldon, Essex (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Now people do it for charity, ploughing through the mud in all sorts of wacky outfits.

A competitor gets a helping hand during the Maldon Mud Race (Photo by Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

The race can be pretty heavy going... this competitor was lucky to get a helping hand through the mud!

A competitor is roped out of the mud during the Maldon Mud Race, Maldon, Essex (Photo by Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Looks like this man didn't do too well either - he had to be pulled out of the sludge with a rope.

Competitor Dominic Finn, from Maldon, smiles as he showers off mud  (Photo by Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

And after trudging through the mud the crawlers had to get clean in a freezing shower! But it was all worth it, because the whole thing raised over 20,000 for charity.