Willow blog

Warriors’ muddy battle for Special Days

June 19, 2015

Runners from across Essex, Hertfordshire and beyond unleashed their inner warriors to battle through muddy streams, crawl under cargo nets and over challenging obstacles during a lively 5K and 10K mud run in the vast grounds of Stansted Park, Elms Farm in Essex on Sunday 14 June.

Hundreds of participants in the first Willow Warrior got muddy while raising funds of up to £20,000 for Willow.

The 5K and 10K courses were great for beginners and seasoned obstacle runners alike, both featured a series of challenging natural and man-made obstacles including paint guns, cargo nets, tyre and river runs, a water-slide and much more. Following a motivating warm-up session, spirits were high as individuals and teams set off, the friendly and fun atmosphere continued around the course with spectators and volunteers cheering them along the way.

First across the finish line completing the 5K course was 43-year-old Marianne Palmer from Bishop’s Stortford. Marianne said: “I’ve done some 10K runs before, but this was my first mud obstacle event. It was particularly good fun, well organised and there was a fantastic atmosphere. There was a great team spirit with encouragement and support from all, both on and off the track.  I hope this event raises local awareness of Willow and that even more people participate next year.”

Stansted Mountfitchet residents Phil Eddershaw and Mike Burgoine were joint third across the finish line having completed the 5K course. Phil, Mike and their teammate Alistair Ambrose took part as ‘Team Dog & Duck’, representing their local pub, with sponsorship and support on the day from the landlord and fellow patrons. Phil said: “Mike and I have taken part in sprint triathlons but this was our first mud and obstacle run. It was great fun with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The Stansted Park course was fantastic, well-marked out and with plenty of marshals to guide us through the obstacles.  The water slide was hilarious and a great opportunity to wash off some of the mud.”

Other Willow Warriors included some of Willow’s Special Day beneficiaries and their families. Including breast cancer survivors Amanda Brown, from Buntingford in Hertfordshire and Keely Wright, from Edmonton. Amanda said: “For all of us who go through something life threatening, we are WARRIORS!”

Five years after a diagnosis of lymphoma (a type of blood cancer) including a year of gruelling treatment, Charlie Wright from Upminster, is back to full health and took on Willow Warrior. During her illness, Willow arranged for her and her family to see their favourite band, Take That. Charlie and husband Nick completed the 5K course, cheered on by their three children. Eldest daughter Hannah, made a brave speech at the start of the race, explaining how Willow helped them at the toughest of times. Saying: “Our family was reconnected with new memories and laughter – the day bought us back together and I will never forget how much I owe Willow.”

Every penny raised in sponsorship will help Willow to create more unforgettable Special Days, and unforgettable special memories. 

View more photographs and buy online

Willow Warrior will be back in 2016 (date in June to be confirmed) pay a deposit now to get the early bird discount price at: www.willowfoundation.org.uk/WillowWarrior 

PHOTOGRAPHS WITH THANKS TO NEW PIXELS PHOTOGRAPHY