This year saw the launch of ‘The Bath Gladiator’, a Tough-Mudder-style military assault course spread over 12km of muddy terrain in the Mendip Hills. The course took place on Saturday 28 March, a particularly wet, rainy and windy day, even by British standards.
In spite of the horrendous weather, just under 700 people of all ages and sizes in tutus, combat trousers and headbands amongst other questionable attire took to the course to conquer the various obstacles, which included scaling 10 foot wooden walls, crawling through barbed wire, diving into freezing cold water and scrambling over bales of hay. The course encouraged gladiators to push themselves to the limit, proving to be both a mental and physical test that made even the fittest of contenders want to quit and call it a day.
I suppose that was the point, to challenge people in a different way to how other events do. What made The Bath Gladiator different to other events, such as The Bath Half-Marathon or The London Marathon, was the fact that it was not only a test of endurance, but also a test of strength with obstacles such as carrying heavy rocks and tyres on your shoulders up and down hills. University of Bath student Freddie Savundra, one of the event’s organisers, explained:
“Next year we will be bringing in bigger and better obstacles while still making it an event that everyone can participate in, without the price tag that other events frequently demand. This year was about creating something that everyone could enjoy without spending the usual £50 that obstacle courses cost. The average ticket price this year was just under £23.”
In a sporty, student city such as Bath, revered for its athletic universities, people not being charged ridiculous amounts allowed the challenging course to be a lot more accessible to a lot more people. Tickets ranged from £15 to £35 each depending on how early you signed up, a very reasonable price in comparison to regular Tough Mudder ticket prices, normally coming to more than £100 a ticket for a military assault course very similar to The Bath Gladiator, minus the electric shocks.
The physical exergue was not the only thing contenders experienced, they were also given a very small taste of the physical demand placed upon military personnel across the world.
The whole event sought to raise awareness for Help for Heroes, a UK charity that seeks to deliver an enduring national network of support for the wounded and their families following serving in wars such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Savundra added “We support Help for Heroes and will continue to do so in all of our events.” At the end of the event, we were given the opportunity to buy a Bath Gladiator 2015 finisher’s t-shirt for £3, of which proceeds went to the Help for Heroes charity. According to the charity, such events would go on to help an estimated 75,000 servicemen and women who had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2014 and may need support in the future.
Some gladiators demonstrated impressive, potentially military-standard skills, completing the extremely challenging course in just over an hour and collecting their free finisher medals before many had even begun the course. For others, including myself, The Bath Gladiator was a fun opportunity to complete a unique, albeit very muddy, assault course with friends, family and team mates. Many of us, whilst we clambered through tunnels, navigated through barbed wire and rope, and slid down hills on our (very) sore bottoms, realised that perhaps the army wasn’t for us. Nonetheless, The Bath Gladiator, proved to be an amusing and challenging experience after which many enjoyed a well-deserved bacon buttie.
To find out more about The Bath Gladiator and its upcoming events, please visit the event’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/blvdsportmadrid?fref=ts
Photo credits: Alexandra Egan (1st image) and The Bath Gladiator (2nd and 3rd images)