COMPETITORS are gearing up to get stuck in the mud in front of a crowd of 20,000 for one of the most unusual events in the Maldon calendar.

The world famous Maldon Mud Race will take place on Sunday, May 7, in Promenade Park.

The annual event, one of the highlights of the town’s calendar, draws competitors from all over the country to wade through the sticky mud of the River Blackwater.

Hundreds of competitors have already signed up to take part as an individual or a team.

Spaces in the race are now full, but organisers will be accepting some entrants on the day.

Brian Farrington, organiser, said: “We are hoping for a dry day. People will be there whatever – we normally attract about 6,000 people if it rains and if it is nice day it is normally 20,000.

“The race will set off between 4pm and 4.30pm this year due to the tides.

“We try to build on it each year and we try and make it better each year.

“What we have done in the last five or six years is put on a family day rather than just a mud race because the race is over and done with in 45 minutes – if you win it is four minutes, if you are last it is 45 minutes.

“We want people to be able to enjoy the day and raise money for charity.”

This year the race will start at 4pm with entertainment in the park from noon.

Spectators will be able to enjoy a mini fair, bird display and music.

The Townsend Twins will be providing a warm up ahead of the race for those taking part.

Elsewhere on the day the annual duck race will be held from 3pm.

Children entering will receive a small rubber duck as a souvenir and people can also buy chocolate ducks on the day to mark the event.

This year the race will be supporting nine charities.

These are the Rob George Foundation, the Daniel Wilkinson Foundation, Brainwave, the David Randall Foundation, Little Havens Hospice, The Cinnamon Trust, PARC, Maldon Sea Cadets and St Helena Hospice.

The lead sponsor of the race is Kent Blaxill – with the company even entering a team.

Simon Blaxill, managing director, said: “We hope to enter a full team from our staff and fundraise amongst our trade and retail clients for both the Maldon Mud Race, and our own charity for 2017, East Anglian Air Ambulance.

“We supported the race in a small way last year but we wanted to in- crease that support in 2017.”

A whole host of celebrities have competed in the race over the past couple of years, including comedians Sean Lock and Jo Brand in 2010 and Fatima Whitbread in 2009.

However, it is not yet known if another will make an appearance this year.

The famous race also appeared on ITV show Tales from the Coast presented by TV star Robson Green.