Nuts muddy crawl

It's around 1 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and, while most people are about to tuck into a roast dinner or are out washing the car, I'm collapsed half-way over a wooden fence, trying to relieve agonising cramp pains from my inner thigh. At this moment there's no doubt in my mind that The Nuts Challenge is... well... a nuts challenge!

Rewind 24 hours and I was having a whale of a time. I was casually wandering around the Nuts Challenge assault course, taking pictures, soaking up the atmosphere and getting very muddy. All without expending too much energy - as I had to prepare for my own challenge the next day.

Nuts tyre pile

The Nuts Challenge is run over a 7k obstacle course, with multiple laps available to those who want to increase their challenge. The 7k and 14k take place on the Saturday, whilst the 21k and 28k take place on the Sunday. As expected, the Saturday was a far more popular day. The shorter courses always pull in a bigger crowd on these multi-distance events.

The atmosphere on the Saturday was awesome. I love the feel of these events; everyone is having a great time getting muddy and tackling obstacles, then feeling like they've really achieved something special when they cross the line. As expected, there were a lot of large groups and teams going around together, helping each other out, as well as a lot of people in fancy dress.

Nuts challenge mud pool

My excitement had built massively over the preceding week, seeing pictures that The Nuts Challenge had been posted on Facebook, but to see everything in the flesh sent me to fever pitch, it looked awesome. I had signed up to do 21k on the Sunday and I couldn't wait! However, when I saw the Saturday results, I definitely realised that it was going to be a bigger challenge than I originally thought. Only a very few elite runners were completing one 7k lap in an hour, most taking around 2 hours and a fair few taking over 3 hours! Multiply that kind of challenge by three and I could be in for an exhausting day!

Nuts Challenge pipe

I didn't sleep well that night. Having seen all of the obstacles, I was running through them all in my head, mentally picturing how I was going to tackle them. I worried about niggling injuries and what the weather was going to be like. To be honest that's no different to the night before any other event. Even though I've done tonnes of these kinds of things now, the nerves and excitement still hasn't subsided.

On the morning of the event, the feel of the site was very different to the previous day. There were far fewer people, and those that were there were all clearly a lot more serious about the task in hand. We chatted to a few people who were a little shocked to learn how long each lap could potentially take. I could see the realisation in their faces of some who had signed up for four laps that they may have bitten off a little more than they could chew!

Nuts muddy bank

Going into this, you'd be forgiven for thinking "how bad can 21k or even 28k really be?" As far as I was concerned, Tough Guy Nettle Warrior had to be the toughest event of the summer. Even though it's a little shorter, clocking up 19k, its enormous and brutal assault course surely had to put it out of reach of other events. Certainly Tough Mudder's 20k didn't come close to Tough Guy on the toughness scale. So, surely Nuts would pale in comparison as well... surely... ? Well, I've got news for you, toughen up if you want to take on more than a couple laps of the Nuts Challenge. Less than half of the people who signed up for three or four lapse actually finished!

Nuts Challenge tree

I would say I found three laps of Nuts Challenge as hard as Tough Guy Nettle Warrior (in fact it may even have scraped it), so four laps is pretty insane. In fact I'm going to stick my neck out and award the Nuts Challenge Mudstacle's unofficial title of "Toughest Event of the Summer 2012". I'm sure Mr Mouse would be ripping his hair out reading this and will be sadistically planning how to torture his Tough Guy participants even more! But you know what? What I really liked about Nuts is that it was tough without gimmicks. It was a long, hard, challenging assault course. It didn't need electrocution or the likes to make it tough, it just wore you out good and proper!

Nuts Challenge rope swing

So... I've realised I've talked a lot about this event without actually talking about the course itself, although I'm sure you can gather a fair amount from the pictures I've dotted around. Basically, from the Nuts Challenge assault course you can expect 7km of very regularly spaced obstacles. In fact it makes it feel like a lot more than 7km per lap (if I were to blindly hazard a guess, I would say it feels like 9km). There are a lot of instances where you jump in and climb out of rivers, mostly on very steep muddy banks that are close head hight. These are often followed by several long sections of the course where you have to run caked in heavy mud before you get the chance to wash yourself off in a water obstacle.

Nuts log

The Nuts course is filled with permanent obstacles and that's what really sets it apart from Spartan, Tough Mudder and many of the other races that can only set up temporary features. There's a section in the middle with a winning sequence of closely spaced obstacles: cargo net, pole slide, rope swing, crawl under barbed wire, log balance, tyre wall climb, over wall, under wall, jump through tire and roped wall climb! If that doesn't get your heart racing and your lungs pumping nothing will!

There are loads of other built-up wooden features to climb over, under and through, but I'm starting to realise this blog is growing out of control... you'll just have to go and see them for yourselves. On top of the wooden obstacles there are several nicely angled cargo net climbs, loads of fences and walls to vault over and many many muddy swamps to wade through, hill slaloms, water slides, tyre carries, a disorientating wander through a Vietnam village (which was awesome)... the list just goes on!

Nuts Challenge tyre wall

There were a couple of really unique river crossings just before the finish line. The first was a series of floating wooden platforms to balance on and make your way over. It's an achievable obstacle but involved a few leaps of faith to get between some of the bigger gaps - it was a lot of fun and totally unique. The next crossing was over a series of inflatable ringos. Now, you might think that that looks like a lot of fun, but I've learnt from Survival off the Fittest that inflatable objects should be feared and respected! crawling over them was literally exhausting and was an extremely tough job to balance on.

Nuts Challege ringos

After two laps I was knocked for six. I knew I had it in me to finish my third but wasn't expecting to be as tired as I was. The combination of cold water and exertion had brought on sever cramps in most of my major muscles. For a long section, every time I lifted my leg, my inner thigh tightened into a crippling cramp.I really regretted not forcing a banana down between laps. Although I felt I put down some respectable times in the first two laps, I slowed down a lot for the third... all the while dreading that last section of ringos! But as I crossed the line I felt real, genuine relief! I had made it... if a little broken.

Within an hour my exhaustion turned to excitement. I was so pumped! For me this was up there with the best events I've ever taken part in. On the way out one of the organisers asked me if I'd be back in March, without hesitation my answer was an excited "YES!"... although whether I upgrade to four laps will remain to be seen. (BTW I did on to run four laps in March, which was a crazy experience, read all about it here)

Thank you Nuts Challenged, you have stoked my love of obstacle events again!

Stay up to date with all of the latest event news and reviews by liking Mudstacle on FacebookFor more photos from the day, check out the Facebook album here (and tag yourselves in). If you want to know more about The Nuts Challenge, check out their site here.


  1. I too, entered into this 21k (three lap torture), with my gf Becca. The first lap was great fun, and although challenging it was in a weird way enjoyable. Energy levels dipping fast on the second lap started to erase some of the excitement, and now knowing what was ahead of us we started to build our own obstacles all of which were in our heads. The nuts challenge was well and truly on – and we both refused to give up. The third lap was tough, tougher than running the marathon, the water was getting cold and cramps were becoming more common. The last few k, of running up and down hills (correction – walking up hills and falling/slipping down them) was hell. The final dip into the lake was welcoming, if only to wash off some of the Mud. The race was on between us to cross the finish line. With a sprint finish both Becca and I clocked a time of 6 hours 30 mins and 12 seconds, some three hours behind the Elite finisher. We did however finish what we set out to achieve. Battered and bruised, aching and fatigued, wet and muddy – and now looking back “a great day”. oh and Medal to go onto the rack 🙂

  2. Awesome stuff. 4th lap was a killer; water was freezing by 5pm. Bananas and granola bars packed away next to the Hill Climb/Water Slide section pulled me through at the end.

  3. I signed up for this with a friend a month before, thinking it would be a good challenge to motivate me to get fit. After one lap I could not believe how gruelling it was! All I could think was that I had 2 more to do but it was absolutley brilliant. Hardest thing physically to do, as it aimed to sap every bit of your strength, making the finish line a real feeling of achievement. Excellent write up.

  4. I am newbie to the Nuts challenge and decided to play it safe and just do the 7km. I want to try take this seriously and get a good time and hope to do the longer one later in the year (is there on in about Sept?)Is the short one just for people who just want to mess about in fancy dress and get covered in mud?

    • Hi Natalie

      Well done for signing up to Nuts Challenge, I’m sure you won’t regret it!

      There are a big mix of people there on the Saturday, some people there take it seriously and smash it out, while others take their time having fun. It’s well staggered though, so you shouldn’t face too much congestion. If you’re looking to get a good time, it will be worth you getting to the front of your pack in your heat – put in a bit of a sprint off the line and you’ll be fine to take it a little easier after the first minute or two, with a bit of space around you. Although it says 7km, don’t expect to get anywhere near your 7km time. Most of the best won’t even get through a lap in 1 hour, most people take more like 2! So don’t go smashing it too hard – save a little energy for the hills towards the end!

      I believe there are races in March and September, yes. Doing one lap first is a good idea, you’ll be able to plan multiple laps a lot better when you know what to expect.

      Anyway, look forward to seeing you there, I expect I’ll be there on the Saturday taking photos, etc. (then running 4 laps on the Sunday – eek!)

  5. Thanks for this write up Peter, it has got me really excited for my Complete Nuts Challenge on the Sunday, after doing the tough guy challenge last week, I know what to expect which i’m sure will help a bit. I love a good challenge so have opted for the 3 laps even though it will be my first Nuts challenge… Maybe this is a gamble
    I’m going to be aiming for under 5 hours.

  6. Thanks so much for writing this up. I didn’t get any decent pics and this is a great collection that shows the variety of obstacles. I did the 7k on the Saturday with 2 friends and we had fun but pushed for time, too (still 2 hours, though!) I’m totally in awe of everyone who did more than one lap … I coped up until the lake. Had a serious sense-of-humour loss after that lol Congratulations on an amazing achievement!


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