A Ribbleton man is travelling to Atlanta to take on the World’s Toughest Mudder.Advertisement
Mark Barkworth is raising money for Cash for Kids with the 24-hour non-stop challenge that starts on 16 November. He’ll be aiming to complete as many five-mile laps as possible, with each lap containing 26 obstacles to overcome.
Mark, who is a seasoned obstacle course participant, has had the World’s Toughest Mudder on his bucket list since he started taking part in mud events in 2012.
He said: “My first one was a very, very cold Tough Mudder in Cheshire. My wife was pregnant at the time, and I’d decided I wanted to be in some sort of reasonable physical condition when our daughter was born. I had also moved to an office-based job, and had started to gain weight. I needed a goal to help keep me motivated to train, and Tough Mudder was just that.”
Since then Mark has done over 50 Tough Mudder events. As well as using them as motivation to keep fit, Mark wants to inspire his daughter and other children to get outside away from TVs and tablets – something he was successful at when she and some schoolmates did their first Mini Mudder earlier this year.
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It’s obvious how much enjoyment and inspiration Mark gets from mud events too.
“The events are so welcoming and inclusive for everyone no matter what level of fitness or size. I have seen people complete courses who are blind, people who are disabled and in wheelchairs.
“Many of the courses are designed so that you have to be helped and in turn offer help to others. This teamwork and camaraderie between total strangers is inspiring, plus the sense of achievement at the finish line after overcoming a tough course is fantastic.”
While Mark regularly keeps fit by going to the gym five or six times a week, his training has gone up a notch in preparation for Atlanta.
He said: “Rather than more gym work I have participated in a few pure running events throughout the year including the excellent Penwortham Bypass 10km event. In June I ran in a lapped event called Runstock where you had to try and do as many 5km laps as possible in 8 hours; I managed 10 laps (50km) in just over 7 hours.
“In May I did a Tough Mudder 10-mile course during the day, then at night I took part in Europe’s Toughest Mudder, which involved completing as many 5-mile loops as possible through the night. By 4am I had done 25 miles but had to stop as I was showing signs of hypothermia. I was slightly disappointed with myself as I should have put on a wetsuit, but this is a lesson learnt.”
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Now that Mark is into the final stages of preparation he’s thinking about what he wants to achieve in Atlanta.
“Despite running in over 50 Tough Mudder events, the prospect of trying to keep my body moving for 24 hours solid is a daunting prospect, especially in what could be very cold conditions. I have set myself what I think are realistic goals to help me get through the event: 1) get to the start line, and 2) finish the 24 hours!
“I know I have at least 30-35 miles in my legs. Anything over that to me is uncharted territory, but I would love to achieve 10 laps (50 miles).”
Mark also has some extra motivation for this event.
“In all the years I have participated in these mud runs, it’s always been for fun and personal achievement, and I’ve never before raised monies for charity.
“The reason I am fundraising for Cash for Kids is that – although every charity is worthy in its own right – unlike the national charities, Cash for Kids utilises all monies raised to directly benefit disabled and disadvantaged children in our local area.
“Any donations that people can give will be gratefully received and help inspire me to give it my all at the event.”
To donate, visit Mark’s Cash for Kids fundraising page.
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What do you think of Mark taking on World’s Toughest Mudder? Let us know in the comments below.