The Suffolk Whole Hog – Sunday 9th October

Text contributed by Pete E., pictures by various

Here we go again …

I am somewhat of a veteran of the Suffolk Whole Hog event – an annual muddy obstacle course that takes place in Wantisden, out near Rendlesham Forest in the wilds of the Suffolk countryside. I had no real intention to jump back in again this year, as I still find myself waking up in the dead of the occasional winter night, with sharp memories of my face being thrust into mud or river water, whilst my body feels icy cold and my fingers move without my being able to feel them.

But this year, a certain Shakespeare enticed me back – not the literary one, I hasten to add. It started with a pact by the two of us in January, and slowly snowballed. One by one, they fell. Each member we approached was more certain than the last that they wouldn’t be talked into such a crazy idea. For every one, we found a weakness – whether it be straightforward honesty (“You need the exercise”), appealing to their ego (“We’ll never get round it without you!”) or just bare-face lying (“No, the reason the others who did it last time aren’t doing it this year is because they’re training for something even bigger, they loved it so much!”). And fall they did – many by making the rash promise, “Well, I’ll do it if X will do it”, not realising that by doing so they had sealed their fate…

Following on from the nine Black Riders and the fellowship of nine Walkers, we made up a company of nine Runners. Although by the end our colour was more of a muddy brown …

Five took on The Whole Hog, a ~5 mile course with over 30 obstacles to jump over, crawl under, clamber through, dive in or slip down. The remaining four misread the form and found ourselves facing a ~7 mile path with over 40 things in the way… D’oh!

We started at the back of the pack in the vain hope that maybe most of the mud would stick to the runners in front, but it didn’t help. From the first obstacle, I whimpered when I realised that the basic hose we’d faced in previous years to get us suitably wet to begin with … had been upgraded to what would best be described as a water cannon. This turned out to be a common theme. Everything was bigger, badder, wetter, taller and, most importantly, colder.

Bonds were forged, expletives screamed and in some cases, bums shoved … but we did it. Every one of us managed to get over everything that was placed in front of us. The beams we had to jump over in rivers, the pontoons we cannon-balled from, the wooden fences we hauled ourselves over and the tubes … oh, my, the submerged tubes.

We eventually stumbled one by one, over the last few hay bales on to the finish line to hold aloft our medals triumphantly, with bloody tired hands.

So … who’s in for next year?