Staring fearfully at Tough Mudder's 'Everest 2.0' looming up ahead, I envisioned myself tumbling down the five metre, muddy, slippery half-pipe again and again and again, failing to reach the top and all in all feeling like a numpty. My nightmarish reveries were interrupted; it was my go. I remember telling myself I had to commit and feeling unsure of my ability to do so. I sprinted as hard as I could and just as I felt myself about to slip down into mud and embarrassment I threw my hand out and grabbed a stranger's offered forearm.

Stranger seems too strong a word to describe your fellow mudders. This 12-mile obstacle course puts the focus on teamwork, and really everyone at the event is in the same team - you could run the course alone and still you would have countless new friends to help you over walls, through mud, under wire and out of freezing water. 

Tough Mudder obstacle

And this was the unexpected beauty of Tough Mudder. I had expected a boisterous, bare-torso fiasco but in reality witnessed countless examples of compassion and support. People were truly happy in being useful, helping others overcome obstacles, both physical and mental. In that small, muddy microcosm, people relished their sense of purpose and their openness; the very natural pleasure of being helped and helping others. My fear of heights threatened to get the better of me when I got a searing cramp in my leg halfway over an obstacle - I whimpered and before I knew it a wonderful woman swooped in, massaging my calf: 'Don't be scared, I've got you'. 

Compassion and teamwork over competition and self-advancement; there's a lesson in there, no doubt about it.  

I was lucky enough to join the Merrell pack for Tough Mudder - find out about their special edition shoes here: Merrell