A daring IT project manager from Ellesmere Port battled through gruelling obstacles, ice baths, electric shocks and a freezing sandstorm – all in aid of a good cause.
Chris Gatrell, 31, successfully went the distance in one of the world’s most ardenaline-fuelled and punishing endurance events, the World’s Toughest Mudder.
The 24-hour challenge was this year set in a Vegas desert in the US and amazingly managed to complete 50 miles within the 24 hours.
Chris said: “The start of the race literally made the hairs on my arm stand on end. Months of training had been complete and it was time to put that into it practice!
“As expected it was a tough race with all the hills and obstacles involved but I managed to attempt/complete all of them.
“Some pretty gruelling penalties for being unable to complete obstacles only enhanced the camaraderie on the course between participants.
“The monkey bars, which included a swinging trapeze halfway, were near-on impossible to complete (I managed it three times) and the 35ft water jump was pretty terrifying.”
Chris was supported in the desert by his brother Michael and sister-in-law Amanda, who camped out in Chris’ tent and were on hand with sleeping bags and hot water to get him warm after each lap. Brother Michael even gave up his socks for Chris to wear for the last lap as he had already gone through the five pairs he took with him.
Chris added: “Everything was going according to plan regarding nutrition, time, pace until about 11pm, when I had been running for about 13hours, when an unexpected sandstorm hit!
“Temperatures dropped close to freezing with the wind chill and getting in and out of water made it pretty unbearable and quitting was fast becoming a possibility.
“I had completed 35 miles (seven laps) at this point and desperately wanted to reach 50 miles, but hypothermia was setting in.
“I went out and braved another lap around midnight, turned out this was one of my quickest laps.”
About 800 out of the 1,100 participants were forced to retire due to the adverse weather conditions but Chris was determined to hit his target of 50 miles, which he did at about 9.30am, with 30mins to spare.
Chris said about his support: “My brother Michael was unbelievable in supporting me for literally every minute of the race.
“He provided updates via Facebook and Twitter for all to follow and gave me the motivation I desperately needed in some pretty dark moments.
“It was emotional, draining, and the best and worst experience of my life all rolled into one.
“I think I left part of my soul out on the course and it still hasn’t really sunk in what I achieved.
“The latest total on fundraising is £2873.24 going towards Cystic Fibrosis and the page will remain open until the new year.
“Massive thanks to my support crew, who as I have said were quite simply amazing!
“Thanks also to Sport Asylum for all the nutritional and supplement support they gave me, it really did make the difference in my preparation going so well and allowing me to be in the best possible shape for the race.
“Finally, thank you to everyone that supported/messaged/sponsored me, it really has been the most overwhelming and humbling experience of my life and I can’t thank everyone enough! I’m already planning my next race for 2015.”
Chris was running for Theadora Brace, the daughter of his good friends Paul and Melissa Brace from Penyffordd.
Theadore had a bowel problem at birth, which had to be operated on immediately, all before losing her twin sister Poppy.
Paul and Melissa were dealt another blow when Theadora was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a debilitating condition that affects the lungs and digestive system.
About 8,000 people in the UK have cystic fibrosis – 10% of the world’s population of sufferers.
If you’d like to support Chris, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/giving and search for ‘Christopher Gatrell’.