“I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine – kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course. I overcome all fears.” – Mudder Pledge
Saturday, August 16, I made this pledge along with over 60,000 other Global Mudders and joined Mudder Legion. What. An. Incredible. Experience.
I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose I should start at Mudder Village. As soon as we got through check-in, we entered the village. We were instantly surrounded by awesomeness. People were dressed up in every outfit imaginable. We saw people like us, soon to begin, and people finishing the race. It got our blood pumping.
After waiting in line for 20 minutes, we arrived to the “warm up” zone. There were around 75 of us in this particular wave. We participated in stretches and warm-up exercises led by enthusiastic volunteers. A few minutes later, we were released to run up a hill and climb over a wall to enter the start chute. In the start chute, along with getting pumped for the obstacles ahead, we were told to introduce ourselves to our fellow mudders. We then raised our right hands to make the Mudder Pledge, and in that moment, all 75 of us became teammates. And now we’re off………..
Now, technically, the course was 10.5 miles with 17 obstacles. I shall mention that tip-toeing through slippery mud or wading through waist-deep water did not constitute an obstacle. In-between the official 17 obstacles was mud, and a lot of it. I’m talking the kind of mud that tries to claim your shoes with every step you take. It also won’t hurt to mention, if we weren’t headed uphill, then we must be heading downhill. There was no such thing as level ground.
On that note, we arrive to our first obstacle Kiss of Mud, fitting, a typical obstacle course challenge. I’ll sum it up with a picture.
Now, 1.4 miles into the race, we are at Glory Blades, 2 8-ft walls you have to climb over. Did I mention these walls are slanted towards you? My thoughts exactly, as portrayed in the picture below.
Up and over, we finally reach 2 miles (seriously, only 2 miles?!) and are forced to Walk the Plank. A 12-ft jump into muddy water followed by a 40-ft swim left the Old (Jon) & the Bold (me), our team name, looking like this:
Another half mile of mud-trudging leads us into the Pitfall. I would like to point out that this obstacle was not listed on the Tough Mudder obstacle page, so I YouTubed videos of the obstacle that GoPro-wearing mudders had recorded. From these videos, I was under the impression that this muddy water we had to wade through simply had small dips you had to watch out for. HA! I was corrected on my assumption after one step that took me from ankle-deep water to waist-deep water. I quickly learned never to underestimate a Tough Mudder obstacle.
Around the corner, we are face-to-face (or beard) with the next obstacle, Devil’s Beard, one of my favorites. We had to make our way up and over muddy mounds, going uphill, under the weight of a cargo net. My strategy: sit on my butt and use the cargo net to pull myself up and over until I reached the end. I lived up to my shirt slogan “Suns Out Guns Out” and impressed all the boys with my upper body strength. We also made some new teammates during this obstacle, although, we didn’t know it yet.
4.2 miles – Arctic Enema. My worst nightmare! Jumping into a pool of ice water on a hot summer day doesn’t seem so bad, right?
Yea, I didn’t think so either. I thought it would be refreshing to cool off from the hot August sun. Now, after you jump into the water, you’re supposed to swim under a board and come up the other side. As soon as I hit the water, I lost all perception of where I was and how I was supposed to breathe. I came up before I swam under the board to see where I was. I forced myself back under and couldn’t get out of the ice pool fast enough!
We thawed out by the time we arrived to Pyramid Scheme where we climbed up the human pyramid to get to the top of the slanted wall. Remember how I mentioned we made new teammates back at Devil’s Beard we just didn’t know it yet? When we arrived to Pyramid Scheme, we quickly decided we needed more than just the two of us. We waited for our teammates-to-be – Tom, Brian, and Tim – and stuck with them the rest of the race.
Our triceps got a workout 5.2 miles in with Pole Dancer, parallel bars slanted to form a peak in the middle. Using only our arms, we had to make it from one end of the bars to the other. My thoughts, “triceps, don’t fail me now!” Thankfully, they didn’t.
Cliffhanger, Berlin Walls and Mud Mile, the next three obstacles. The first one required us to sprint up a stupidly steep hill. I say sprint because, if you tried to walk, you either found yourself stuck or rolling back down the hill. The second one required a boost to get over the two 10-ft walls. The latter obstacle was an up and down battle. Climb up a mound of mud just to slide down the other side into waist-deep water, repeat x5.
Prairie Dog, Warrior Carry, and Quagmire another set of three obstacles. Ever wonder what a prairie dog feels like traveling through those small tunnels? Yea, me neither, but now I know. Wade through muddy water, crawl through small pipe, slide down muddy hill into more muddy water. Not so bad until we had to high step through 100 yards of thick mud that was almost successful in claiming my shoes. I got it easy during the Warrior Carry. My wonderful partner Jon Reed had to carry me 100-yards. I was just along for the ride. Alas, Quagmire, my nemesis. The largest of the mud mounds to date. After reaching the top, we had to slide down. It was more like jump down and try not to hurt yourself. After watching two men attempt to slide down in what looked like a painful manner, I opted for the side path which was more of a climb down. I didn’t think it possible, but the mud following the Quagmire mounds was even worse than the mud after Prairie Dog. It was impossible to walk through this mud, so we were forced to crawl. It got to the point that I was laying on my stomach, with my arms stretched as far ahead of me as possible, using every bit of strength to pull my legs out of the mud and my body forward. I would have to say that was the most tiring of all the obstacles.
Finally, 8.7 miles and we’re out of the woods and at Funky Monkey. These aren’t your typical playground monkey bars. Similar to Pole Dancer, the monkey bars ascend to a peak in the middle and then descend to the platform on the other side. To make matters worse, one random bar along the way is greased. Hang on tight. I am happy to say that I am part of the 40% who successfully completed this obstacle.
Balls to the Walls required us to scale a wall with a knotted rope and use it to come down the other side. Not too bad and at mile 9.5, only one more mile to go! One before last obstacle, ramp Everest. Full speed ahead – we had to run as fast as we could to get as far up the half pipe as possible. Luckily, I had great teammates at the top to help pull me up the rest of the way.
Finally, the last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy. I didn’t realize that not all of the wires we had to run through were live. So when I began my sprint through the mud and electricity, I thought things weren’t so bad. Then it hit me, literally. 1000 wires – 10,000 volts. Every shock was reinforced with a popping sound. The last one caught me on the side of my neck temporarily choking me. That was quickly forgotten as the mudder beside me dove out of the wires tackling me along the way.
Through the last obstacle, I could finally see the light, or the orange headband and beer, at the end of the tunnel. We finally made it and, more importantly, we survived! Old (Jon) survived in one piece with a beat up knee, Tom survived in one piece with wicked sunburn, Brian survived in one piece (I think) with an already existing cold and fever, and Bold (I) survived in one piece with a few scratches and bruises. All in all, it was a great day!
One last note, the Tough Mudder was a fabulous experience because of the people involved. Fellow mudders helped each other in every way possible whether it was lending a helping hand up a hill or providing encouraging words. The volunteers were so enthusiastic and encouraging. A special thanks to Lorna for driving us and taking pictures and videos along the way. And a big thank you to my parents for letting me crash on the couch so I could get some extra sleep!
In case you were wondering, I’ve already signed up for a Tough Mudder next year, and you should too!