Fundraising and attendance records broken at 6th JCB Mud Run
A record-breaking – and capacity – field of 3,000 squirmed and splashed their way to a £70,042 charity total by taking on the challenge of the 6th annual JCB Mud Run.
Competitors scrambled over more than 35 obstacles, including monkey bars and water pits, on a specially-created 8-kilometre course, doused with one million litres of water, built on land near to JCB’s World Headquarters, in Rocester, Staffs.
It means that a grand total of £300,000 has been raised for the NSPCC in Staffordshire in six years since the JCB Mud Run started in 2012 – when it attracted a field of 500 entrants.
The proceeds of the event supports the work at Carole House in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the NSPCC’s service centre which was set up after JCB and its employees completed a £2 million fundraising campaign.
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford was there to fire the starting gun for the first race in which his son, George, took part.
Afterwards, George presented a cheque for the proceeds to the NSPCC and said: “What an amazing total has been raised and what a fantastic day. I really enjoyed running the course with my wife, son and daughter. It really is the best one ever. To see how far this event has come in just six years is incredible and makes me very proud. But even though there are so many people here taking part we haven’t lost the fun and family atmosphere and that’s what makes it special.”
Camilla Wood, NSPCC Partnership Manager, who accepted the cheque said: “We are overwhelmed by the effort and commitment of the JCB team and mud runners today. On behalf of the NSPCC team at Carole House, I’d like to say a big thank you to JCB for putting on a fantastic Mud Run as part of their on-going support for our work with the most vulnerable children in Staffordshire. We are extremely grateful to everyone who braved the amazing obstacle course and raised vital funds to help keep children safe from abuse.”
Also taking part was Spanish-born Joe Vazquez of Tean, near Cheadle, Staffs – who, at 71, was the oldest competitor in the field. Originally from Barcelona, Joe, who is a veteran of the Pamplona Bull Run, joined JCB in 1976 and now works for the company as a factory tour guide. He said: “To say it was fantastic is an understatement. I ran round with a smile on my face and everyone around me kept talking to me and encouraging me. I was a little embarrassed to find out I was the oldest in the field but I hope I encourage a few more of my age to step up next year. It doesn’t matter if you are 71, 80 or even older, if you believe you can do it you can do it.”
He added: “I did it the first two years but this time around it is so much bigger and there are so many more taking part – it kind of draws you in and gets you into the spirit.”
Others included former Midlands’ lightweight boxing champion Jason Burgess, of Leek, who used the Mud Run as a warm up to the Obstacle Course Racing World Championship taking place in Canada, in October. He finished first and praised the Mud Run for being “well marshalled” and a “great race”.
The 41-year-old, who now works as a Site Manager at Churnet View Middle School, said: “I am a real fan of the JCB Mud Run. I’ve taken part in all but one and it’s what got me into Obstacle Course Racing in the first place. This year I am using it as a training event in preparation for the World Championships in Canada but I would always come back anyway, not only is it right on my doorstep but the multi-terrain style of the course is unlike any other. And on top of that there is a great community spirit – even though I finish quite early I always stay to the end and cheer on the other competitors.”
First woman over the line was Dominique Searle a 41-year-old Cheshire Police Custody Sergeant from Northwich. She said: “It’s my first time at this race. I was really impressed. A great atmosphere and a lovely blend of fun and competitiveness.”
Engineers Dhanraj Veer, 28, and Ajay Mahajan were visiting the UK from JCB India’s factory in Pune and decided to take part. Dhanraj said: “We have both done traditional fun runs back home but nothing like this. It was freezing cold at times and my teeth won’t stop chattering but it is a real memory to take back home.”
Ajay added: “I’ve loved being in the UK and this is something so different. It really is the icing on the cake. A great crowd, really friendly and an incredible amount of mud.”
Also running it for the first time were girlfriend and boyfriend Alanis Curran and Jamie Roberts, from Wrexham. Quality Apprentice Alanis, 18 and Assembly Operator Jamie, 24, who both work at JCB Transmissions in Wrexham, travelled to Staffordshire early in the morning to take part. Alanis said: “A few of our friends did it last year and said what fun it was. To be honest we hadn’t done much preparation but I play netball and Jamie plays football, so that helped us along.”
Also from North Wales were colleagues Gavin Edwards, Andrew Getty and Wayne Meredith, who all work in the Machine Shop at JCB Transmissions. Gavin, 38, said: “We watched videos of previous mud runs online and thought it was definitely for us. We built up to it with some 10k road races but this was a first for an actual mud run. It’s been terrific competing alongside so many people – it’s a massive field.”
Another first timer was 18-year-old Ellie Nixon, of the Westlands, in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Ellie a member of JCB’s Group HR team ran with her dad, Jon Nixon, 48, who also works for the company in Sales. She said: “It is a real fun thing to do. My dad had run it before but it was a first time for me but everyone at the company and in the local community seemed to be talking about it so I was persuaded to join in. When I heard they had brought in so much water to fill up the levels I thought ‘oh my goodness haven’t we had enough rain!’”
Bride-to-be Caroline Critchlow made the Mud Run part of her hen party celebrations. The 30-year old children’s home training manager from Cheadle, Staffs, wore a white bride’s dress and veil to take on the gunge. She said: “I have always wanted to do something like this so we decided to make it part one of my hen party. Wearing white was probably not the best outfit option but it’s all about having a laugh and we’ve certainly had that.”
JCB Power Products Manager Jon Adie joked that he was “peer pressured” into taking part but enjoyed the team spirit.
The 41-year-old from Mickleover, near Derby, only joined the company a few months ago and was persuaded by colleagues to sign up with them. He said: “I ran a 10k road race in Singapore a few years ago and used to play rugby but I don’t think anything quite prepares you for a mud run with all the obstacles you have to contend with.”
The event was extremely poignant for Zoe Cooper, 38, of Clayton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, who took part in memory of her late husband Andy. Andy, who worked for JCB as a Backhoe Loader Production Supervisor, took part in every JCB Mud Run since it started, until he tragically died in a road accident in March 2016. Teacher Zoe, along with family, friends and former colleagues, took on the course for the second year running as a tribute to him. She completed half the course but had to retire early with an ankle injury – but has vowed to back next year. The mum-of-three said: “From a personal point of view it is about finding something positive in such a bad situation. And it gives me something to really push for and to motivate me, knowing I am taking part in an event that Andy really enjoyed. I am so grateful to Andy’s former colleagues at JCB who have been there for me and continue to support me.”
Fred Tams, 42, of Wetley Rocks, Staffs, who worked alongside Andy, said: “He was a very good friend of mine and I consider Zoe a good friend too. That is why we all wanted to be here to support her and remember a workmate who just loved taking part in the Mud Run.”
Neil Blundred, of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, joined in the fun by running the course in a dress. The 38-year old was part of a team-of-nine from DHL’s Stoke depot, who were on course to raise £2,000 for the NSPCC. He said: “I don’t mind having a laugh at myself especially when it is for such a good cause. I’ve really enjoyed the course even if I got stuck in the mud a couple of times.”
At one point the event was invaded by Darth Vader and a group of around 20 Stormtroopers – aka a team from Staffordshire Housing Group. They donned Star Wars garb to raise money for the homeless support charity Arch North Staffordshire. IT Manager Darren Penny, 44, from Abbots Bromley, took on the role of super sci-fi villain Lord Vader. He said: “We aimed to raise about £2,000 for charity but thanks to every one’s support we are on course for £3,000. The force has been strong for our fundraising! The fancy dress costumes are ruined, though. I don’t think we will get our deposits back.”
Additionally, members of the NSPCC’s Stoke Young Campaigners Group took up the Mud Run challenge to raise awareness of how the NSPCC’s services benefit the local community.
Chris Dyas, the group’s leader, said: “The Mud Run certainly lived up to its name. It was a slog, but a brilliant way of highlighting how the NSPCC supports local children. The charity does great work in helping young people and their families to recover from abuse, and is planning to expand its work into helping the community to prevent abuse from happening in the first place. It was great to see so many on the course today; their money is going to an excellent cause.”