Words by Andrew Middleton. Pictures by Rob Till
I start the clock, run around the Hilux, hook a snatch-strap to the tow-bar, jump back into the driver’s seat, engage third low and dump the clutch. Behind me, in a high-velocity maelstrom of rocky projectiles and swamp slime, my buddy, Tymon, gets towed in a steel cage skipping across the bog. As my Hilux ungracefully slews around in the nasty sludge, it quickly turns from a ‘new car’ silver to a repugnant dark brown.
My Hilux’s wheels thrash in the mud in search of traction. I’m losing against the laws of friction, and not even momentum can help me. Somehow, I manage to claw free of the swamp, but much to Tymon’s dismay, I plunge the Hilux straight into the next pit and repeat the process with even more vigour. Perhaps I should’ve closed the windows…
I think of poor Tymon and the fact that he had no idea what he was getting into when he accepted my invitation to the 35th Toyota Jamboree. He should’ve punched me in the face instead.
When we finally break free of the quagmire, I spring from the Hilux to check on Tymon. Much to my surprise, he’s wearing a muddy grin, and even starts to chuckle before tackling me to the ground and making sure that we both look equally filthy.
The first day’s gymkhana continues like this until sunset; we’re lucky to have got the mud section over and done with in the morning – by nightfall the swamp pits are impassable. The remaining challenges include ten technical obstacles – dug from the earth and looked upon by a large cheering crowd. One-hundred-and-fifty 4x4s crawl over the scene as a glorious cacophony of engine noise and excitement drowns out our apprehension, and we wait to churn through another brutal obstacle.