A PICTURESQUE country park became a scene of mayhem today (Sunday, March 23) when hundreds of runners took on one of the North-East's muddiest assault courses.

Muddy Mayhem, at Hardwick Park, near Sedgefield, County Durham, saw competitors of all ages, shapes and sizes overcome a series of challenging obstacles that were certainly not for the feint-hearted.

Cargo nets, hay bales, slimy tunnels, muddy trenches, climbing walls and large stretches of freezing open water were just some of the filthy surprises they encountered.

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However, despite appearances, Muddy Mayhem was very much organised chaos, with experienced marshals and trained volunteers keeping a close eye on runners as they made their way around the five and ten kilometre courses.

It is the second time Durham County Council has staged the race at the park and this year the places were sold out in days.

Many chose to support one of the official race charities, Help for Heroes, Butterwick Hospice and Butterfly Conservation, while others competed for causes close to their hearts.

Deborah Parker was part of a team of six running on behalf of Leonard Cheshire Disability in Crook.

Ms Parker, volunteer co-ordinator for the charity, said: "We really wanted to do something different to raise awareness for Leonard Cheshire and we wanted it to be a challenge too. Muddy Mayhem was the perfect choice."