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Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Mud Race was 'not what I thought'

By Mark Syred
BBC Essex

Mark Syred at the Maldon Mud Race
Mark compared the race to climbing Mont Blanc and the Himalayas

Over 200 hardy souls took part in the 2009 Maldon Mud Race on Sunday, 27 December. I was one of them.

I am on my hands and knees. My hands are not hands, but claws drenched in thick black Essex mud and they are shaking with exhaustion.

My chest is contracting, I cannot get enough air into my lungs. I know this, but the alveoli in my lungs do not.

Then there is a scream from my body for more oxygen, yet none is coming through. I cannot breath deeply enough, my thighs are burning, the feeling of pins erupt in my throat as the air is running out.

I am on my hands and knees, waist deep in mud and the last time I felt this was when I raced a Sherpa up a hill in Tibet at 5800 metres, that hurt as much as this now.

Nothing in the tank

I signed up to the Maldon Mud Race in the belief that it was tough, but not beyond me.

Earlier in 2009 I climbed Mont Blanc, I have run a variety of marathons under three hours 30 minutes.

Maldon Mud Race 2009
'The last time I felt this was when I raced a Sherpa up a hill in Tibet at 5800m'

In 2007 I ran the Berlin Marathon in four hours 20 minutes only four months after I had corneal transplant and ran without training.

I have climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, walked 80 km in 16 hours and surfed some big waves across the world.

The above is not a statement; it is an illustration that I thought I knew what I was doing when I signed up for the Maldon Mud Race. But as I write, my lungs still hurt and my throat feels like I have tried to down a hedgehog!

The mud race started at 1pm, I was dreaming and then the cold water hit me.

I slipped whilst in the water and someone used me for a push so I went under, but all OK.

To all those who took part in the 2009 Maldon Mud, well done. My admiration for what you have done is as deep as that Blackwater mud
Mark Syred

Then we hit the mud on the other side of the bank; I take five steps then fall over, I try to get up and take another three, then I am out!

There is nothing in the tank. 'Oh dear, this is not what I thought it would be.'

I try to crawl but am sinking faster than I am crawling. I start to dream as the pain is setting in and cannot find a rhythm.

It seems all around people are whizzing by. I get to the first corner and stand up. 'Stop being wet' I tell myself, 'find a rhythm and you will be fine.' But how do you find a rhythm when you're thigh deep.

Find virgin mud I am thinking, but it is not happening. Somehow I get to the final corner, it is downhill, I am standing now, and walking as fast as I can.


My body just wants to give up, I hit the mud again as my legs resign in disgust.

Just get to the water for the final time, then it is 15 metres to the finish.

As I stand up, I trip for the second time, I hit the water and am fully under this time. My temples are contracting, my brain is slowing up.

Maldon mud
The notorious Blackwater mud proved a mighty challenge for the 250 racers

'Get up' I hear, so I do and look at the final bank to the finish five metres away. It cannot come soon enough.

I cross the line and it is only relief I feel.

I though it would be tough; tough is where you are able to think clearly after the race. I cannot think.

My fingers are frozen together; I can't believe people can do this quickly. I did it slowly and was so close to giving up and I never think about giving up.

To all those who took part in the 2009 Maldon Mud, well done. My admiration for what you have done is as deep as that Blackwater mud.

For more information on the annual charity event, visit the Maldon Mud Race website.

In pictures: Maldon Mud Race 2009
27 Dec 09 |  Things to do
Hundreds get dirty for mud race
27 Dec 09 |  Essex
Mud Race set to attract thousands
23 Dec 09 |  Things to do



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