Bear Grylls survival race sued for £150k after mum's leg 'smashed like stamped on digestive biscuit'

Bear Grylls survival race sued for £150k after mum's leg 'smashed like stamped on digestive biscuit'

A MUM left with a leg looking like a "stamped on digestive biscuit" after a Bear Grylls survival race is suing for £150,000.

Former gymnast Margot Harrison, 58, shattered her shin bone after falling from monkey rings during a 5km obstacle course.



The race was designed by adventure TV host Grylls to help participants “release the inner Bear” and develop their "wilderness warrior spirit".

The event took place in North London in October 2016 and included 20 obstacles while passing through four themed landscape sections of forest, jungle, Arctic and desert.

It was "created by Bear Grylls and his crack team of survival and obstacle course racing enthusiasts" to test runners' "ability to endure a range of real-world survival scenarios,” according to publicity material.

Ms Harrison smashed her right leg and dislocated her shoulder just 15 minutes into the challenge when she launched herself at the monkey rings in the jungle section of the course and fell to the ground below.

She can now only walk a couple of miles before starting to limp and suffered depression after her accident.

Ms Harrison, of West London, is suing Intuitive Business Consultants Ltd – trading as Bear Grylls Survival Race – who “devised, managed and organised” the event fronted by the TV presenter.

She also claiming damages from Big Bang Promotions International Ltd, which provided supervising staff and planned risk assessments for the races.

But both companies’ lawyers deny fault and dispute the amount of compensation claimed by Ms Harrison, insisting that they took stringent steps to ensure the course was as safe as possible.

The ground beneath the rings was properly cushioned, they claim, while race marshals had been briefed to warn racers to attack the rings from a seated position, not while standing as Ms Harrison had done.

'HEROES ARE MADE NOT BORN'

The Bear Grylls Survival Race is held in Trent Park, Enfield, with the event launching itself under the slogan "Heroes Are Made Not Born".

The race's website says it hosts "survival challenges designed to cater to all abilities" – adding "we can all develop our own wilderness warrior spirit and physicality, for real".

The 5km race is advertised as “the perfect course for those who may be new to the survival world but want to release their inner Bear and smash fitness goals along the way”.

London’s High Court heard Ms Harrison was a fitness enthusiast before her accident, entering the Bear Grylls challenge alongside other members of her local gym.

Her personal trainer had “every confidence” that she would crack the challenge, she told the court, adding: “We thought it would be a nice thing for a group of gym members to do something like this together.

“I had visions of us supporting each other going down the obstacles, but obviously sadly that didn't happen.”

She said she had trained specifically for the physical demands of the course, but did not expect there to be a risk of serious injury involved.

“I thought it was a 5km run with 20 obstacles along the way and it would just be a challenge of my physical strength, and I thought it was something I was going to enjoy,” she said.

When she reached the platform in front of the monkey rings, there were two marshals in place, Ms Harrison said, but neither of them instructed her to tackle the rings from a seated position.

“People were going from standing and I assumed that was the right starting position,” said Ms Harrison, and so she launched herself from the platform while upright.

“There was a shock to my shoulder and that’s when I let go.

“I think I had one hand on the first ring and I was reaching for the second ring – it all happened so fast.

“What I expected was that the landing surface would be sufficient to cushion my fall – that surface was very hard.”

There was a shock to my shoulder and that’s when I let go

She claims those marshalling the race negligently failed to warn her to tackle the monkey rings from a seated position, and that safety measures should have been taken to ensure the ground was padded.

The 58-year-old accountant needed multiple operations to treat her injuries, and was unable to walk her dog or tend to her garden due to the effects of the October 2016 accident.

Although she fought back to stage a “remarkable level of recovery”, she cannot now lift heavy objects and suffers from “ongoing permanent symptoms” that may require further surgery.

She can now only walk a couple of miles before starting to limp and suffered depression after her accident.

A surgeon who later treated her told Ms Harrison the top of her shin bone looked like a "digestive biscuit after somebody had stamped on it”, she added.

“That came from the hard landing because there was nothing there to cushion my fall. The obstacle was not safe," Ms Harrison said.

"I had trained. I was strong. I had no reason to doubt my ability to do the obstacles."

Unknown to Ms Harrison, there had been two previous injuries on the same obstacle at two other race venues, said her barrister, Brian Cummins.

“Thus, prior to her injury, they were aware – or ought to have been aware – the monkey rings obstacle had given rise to two previous serious injuries, and was a real risk to its race participants,” he added.

In fact, he argued, as a survival novice Ms Harrison should never have been allowed to tackle such an obstacle.

“Ms Harrison entered to participate in the 5K race for the less experienced over-14s," he said.

“It is averred that she should not have even been exposed to 'The Jungle'."

But the organisers say race marshals were carefully briefed to warn racers to attack the monkey bars from a seated position, with photographs showing competitors launching while sat down.

However, it was ultimately the individual's choice how to launch and neither company could be blamed for those who chose not to follow the instructions, the two companies say.

The obstacle was designed so that most competitors' feet would be no more than 40cm above the grass and straw surface when they swung, and the straw was also redistributed between waves of racers to ensure it was even.

All participants also had the option to “forfeit” any element of the challenge and were briefed that they were only competing against themselves.

"Whilst it is unfortunate that Ms Harrison suffered injuries, this was not due to any negligence on the part of Intuitive Business Consultants or Big Bang Promotions International and it is simply the result of the inherent risk associated with this type of adventurous activity," Big Bang's QC, Angus Withington, said.

The judge reserved his judgment on the case until a later date.

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