On a cloudy, unseasonably cool weekend at the end of July, the sprawling 3000 acres of parkland and woodland of Broughton Hall, near the market town of Skipton, saw a large contingent of CIPHER Medical staff. As CIPHER Medical is the contracted medical provider to the UK Tough Mudder endurance and obstacle course events, it was no surprise that a team was there to provide medical support to participants, volunteers and site staff. However, as if this involvement wasn’t enough for the #OneTeam, there was an eighteen-strong team of CIPHER participants who completed the gruelling 15K route!
The Tough Mudder North Yorkshire 2023 obstacle course, like their others worldwide, is designed to test all-round strength, stamina, teamwork, and the mental grit of the “Mudders”. Some of the challenges that the CIPHER team faced included scaling high muddy walls, submerging themselves in water-filled cages, and dodging live electrical cables in their pursuit to complete the course – dignity was optional.
At the start of the course, just before the entrance to the lively Mudder Village, a quick visit to CIPHER’s medical facility demonstrated immediately the level of professionalism and expertise available to all requiring medical attention during the event. The team deal with various injuries but the focus remains on supporting participants to complete the course. Two doctors, Charlie and Lucy, were on hand, along with paramedics, nurses and APs, to deal with any injuries that emerged from the Village, ‘on the spot’, as well as the team being in constant radio contact with those who were in a variety of emergency vehicles and UTVs roaming around the entire course. All participants were clearly in safe hands, wherever they were onsite. Naturally, weather conditions can have an effect on participants, with extreme temperatures causing issues at either end of the scale, though on this day weather wasn’t an issue: overcast, threatening rain and a bit nippy!
This is a popular deployment amongst Team CIPHER – and one that lasts the weekend – as it isn’t only work, but also very social, with lots of laughs, fun and team building.
For the intrepid CIPHER team who elected to run the 15K course, there were thirty obstacles to test grit and resilience, and push people well beyond their comfort zones. For the entirety of the day, participants could be seen muddied, panting, crawling, climbing, running, laughing and cursing their way through some of the most fearsome looking obstacles, some more terrifying than others, but Team CIPHER valiantly pushed through, supporting and encouraging one another to carry on.
One of the favourite obstacles amongst many of the observing ‘working’ CIPHER team, Cry Baby, sees Mudders crawling through a low tent that is filled with a constant menthol mist that has an obvious effect on the eyes when emerging at the end of the obstacle. Another unsettling obstacle is the Cage Crawl which, as the name may suggest, can ensure a very claustrophobic and trapped experience. In water. And the Funky Monkey has Mudders swinging from bar to bar, in a feat of strength and focus and culminating, for most, in a slippery drop into, yes, water. In fact, water features in most of the obstacles, absolutely ensuring that participants are soaked through for the whole day, just to add a little bit extra special discomfort.
An absolute favourite obstacle is one which brings much hilarity to observers (and stress for participants!) The aptly but worryingly named Electric Eel consists of a shallow pool of cold (and muddy, obviously) water that participants are required to crawl through, almost like an eel you could say. So far, so good. However, this being ‘Tough’ Mudder, that would be almost too easy. The difficult bit, then, comes from the Electric part of the obstacle’s name – completely ignoring everything we were ever taught about mixing electricity and water, the lovely people at TM have suspended wiggling electric wires above the pit of water. What could possibly go wrong?
A team of CIPHER paramedics were stationed at this obstacle – Claire, Grace, Sean and Charlotte – ready to provide medical assistance to anyone in need on this part of the course, and at some points there were several people outside the CIPHER tent, seeking attention for blisters, twists and cuts. The team loved being stationed at this particular location as they were thoroughly entertained all day by the thousands of Mudders who approached the Electric Eel with absolute terror, shouting, “Oh no!” and “You’re joking!” as they saw what was ahead of them. The ever helpful and supportive medical team encouraged people with calls of “Stay low and go fast” (great advice), and “Just like the marines do it!” (very encouraging), and “There’s no reason at all why there should be paramedics stationed here. Oh no.” (Hmmm…) Naturally, lots of people panicked at the sight of the set-up but bravely faced the challenge, mostly successfully, and with only a few ‘shocking’ moments.
Then, it was the TeamCIPHER Mudders’ turn. The medics on hand were delighted and excited that their team had arrived and would show the world how to do it! The usual cries of exhausted despair were mixed with calls of encouragement… and the occasional “it’s only enough electricity to wake you up,” “We can hear you scream under water,” and – to the splashers and panickers – “Darwin would be proud”.
This obstacle saw both CIPHER teams come together on the day, and it was a great example of endurance and friendship and excellent team work, on both sides of the obstacle. Though the working team was slightly drier and cleaner, and a little less exhausted!
Most of those who put themselves through these Tough Mudder events do so to raise funds for a variety of different charities, and CIPHER staff are no different. They attempted the course to raise money for The Ambulance Staff Charity. TASC provide a range of services to support the mental health, physical rehabilitation, and financial wellbeing of ambulance staff, their family members, students, and ambulance service volunteers. Over the weekend of 29th/30th July, TeamCIPHER raised a phenomenal £1800 for TASC.
CIPHER Medical’s provision of medical cover for Tough Mudder, with a dedicated and professional staff, ensures the safety of all and brings a wealth of event experience and expertise that allows for the flexibility and adaptability of response required by organisers and participants. The CIPHER Mudder team of participants have also shown dedication, experience and flexibility, and a lot of nerve! Well done to all on both sides!