Africa: Playing in the Mud Can Be a Challenge


There are some games that were invented simply because grown-ups miss their childhood.

We woke up at 5am one Saturday morning, huddled into a bus and went to a farm in Njoro, in Kenya's Rift Valley, to play in the mud.

A few days before, Munyaka Njiru of Bucketlist Adventures had called me suggesting that I take part in the Mud Run.

"What is it about?" I asked, laughing.

"It is a challenge in which teams compete by completing tasks over an eight kilometre muddy course," he said.

It had rained the night before the run, much to the delight of everyone except me. The rain meant that the already muddy terrain was muddier, and the already cold weather of Njoro was reaching of refrigerator temperatures.

When we got there, we split into teams of three, four and five.

The Mud Run is not just a run. All of the 175 teams were timed as they completed their tasks.

To win, a team has to run in the mud, crawl through tunnels and holes face first, dip into cold water, jump over a fire obstacle, swing like Tarzan across another, go past a maze of strings, balance on logs of wet wood while wearing muddy shoes, fit through old tractor tyres, jump over hurdles and slide down a mud slide into a puddle of dirty water.

The highlight for me was when contestants had to swim across a pool of dirty water. Above them were electric wires. Not strong enough to kill, but they zapped you when touched.

The only way to escape them was to hold your breath underwater, but nobody could do that. So every time someone got zapped, their bodies shook from the shock.

Mud Run was also about teamwork. A team cannot proceed to the next hurdle before everyone has completed the current one. If one has to stop and catch their breath, then everyone else has to.

It was also about having fun. And when you are done, you take a shower, eat, gather around a bonfire and in the end it doesn't matter who won.


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