“You paid for this,” I say, incredulously, as a line of mud-covered shivering messes crawl under barbed wire, a foot from where I’m sat in the mud taking photos.
Hardy souls jump through fire and crawl through claustrophobic tunnels in front of me but us journos have to be made of pretty stern stuff too, you know.
Time given to wiping specks of mud from cameras was soon dropped in favour of turning in unison and cradling our cameras when anticipating a particularly virulent splodge of the brown stuff.
The event was originated by a former Grenadier Guardsman – that’s Mr Mouse to you – and pitches itself as ‘the safest most dangerous event in the world’.
Today, 6,000 nutters tackle a course, which involves a cross-country run before even getting to the tough stuff.
Crawling through barely-more-than-a-body-width tunnels slithering out the end like a wet lamb from its mother; zapped with electric shocks in pitch dark caverns; chest-high in icy water, leaping through six-foot flames, scaling house-high netting (alternatively, get rescued by a crane from atop one of these monstrosities like one unlucky tough gal); tram wires, mud, death plunges, icy water, mud, and repeat and you get the not very pretty picture by now, presumably.
The question for participants has to be, ‘why’?
Why get scratched, shocked, pre-hypothermic, burnt, scared and agonised on a freezing morning in Wolverhampton at the end of January.
I ask a couple dressed as Fraggles to enlighten me.
“She’s pretty much doing it because she’s dating me now, so she has no choice. I’ve done this eight times.”
Laughing nervously, lady Fraggle trudges off hoping for nothing more from the event than “not drowning” in her costume.
Stopping at a service station on the way home, I come across some muddy knackered-looking types buying copious amounts of chocolate and pain killers.
They leave, limping, trailing large swathes of mud across the forecourt with huge grins on their faces.