The Maldon Mud Race is probably one of the most unusual events in Great Britain and it certainly attracts the attention of not only the local media but also receives national, even global coverage.
The ‘Race’ originated in 1973, with a dare being given by a local resident to the landlord of the ‘Queens Head’ public house, which stands on the Hythe Quay in Maldon, Essex, challenging him to serve a meal on the saltings of the Rivers Blackwater dressed in a dinner jacket. The challenge was duly accepted and carried out, resulting next year in a bar being opened on the saltings. About twenty people made a mad dash across the driver bed, drank a pint of beer and dashed back. This was the beginning of the Maldon Mud Race.
In subsequent years, so many people wish to take part in the event that the time taken to consume the beer caused a ‘logjam’ on the saltings, so that part of the event was discontinued and the race reverted back to a dash over the river bed and back again.
The Mud Race was always a very successful event (from a novelty point of view, if nothing else) and continually took place every year from the rear of the Queen’s Head public house until 1989, when the facilities provided were no longer available. So the Mud Race ceased, despite public demand for it to continue. However, near the end of 1993, the Maldon Carnival Association were looking to hold a winter event and it was suggested that Mud Race could be received as part of the Carnival Associations activities, with the assistance of the Lions Club of Maldon.
In 1994, on Boxing Day, the revived Mud Race took place at the new venue of The Promenade Park in Maldon and a field of 52 entrants took part (and survived) and about 5,000 coming to watch the event.
The novelty of this event certainly attracted people from all over, including an entrant from Holland, and the race was covered on national television and by the national press. Reports of the event were published as far away as South Africa and Kuwait!
The revised event was designed to raise money for local charities and good causes and the first year, the Mud Race raised over £2,500, which was distributed to three local charities.
The second race took place in 1996 and entries had increased from 52 to 132, generating £5,419 for charities. Of this, £1,735 was raised by entrants through sponsorship for their own particular charities.
News has spread and the event was televised in the USA and Australia. In 1997, the event attracted a field of just over 120 registered competitors and was scheduled to be held on New Year’s Day, but freezing weather conditions forced its cancellation and the event was later held on Easter Monday. Concern over safety at public events meant the race was not staged between 1998 and 2000 and the Maldon Carnival Committee then decided to abandon the event. However, an advertisement was placed in the local paper for assistance to run the event in conjunction with the Maldon Lions. A joint meeting of the two organizations took place on 14th March 2000 and it was agreed to stage the event on Boxing Day 2001 at Promenade Park.
2007 proved to be a highly exciting year both for the competitors and charities. 180+ competitors took part, many in fancy dress on a beautiful cold morning. Despite a false start, fun was had by all with a record crowd lining the river bank and many watching on the big screen, an innovation for this year. The nominated charities also gained, as a record £40,000 being distributed by the Mud Race Committee.
The Maldon Mud Race in 2008 had to be rearranged to January of 2009 due to high tide and issues at the latter end of 2008. On January the 4th 2009 on a beautiful Sunday morning 250 competitors and a record crowd of over 10,000 lined the river bank to support this fantastic event. Once the race was completed and the donations counted the Maldon Mud Race Committee were proud to announce that we had collected and distributed over £58,000 to the nominated charities.