How Tough is Tough Mudder?
With it hitting over 1,000,000 participants and claiming to be ‘Probably the toughest event on the planet’ we thought it only fitting that someone here at Outside Times go and see what all the fuss is about. So after a rock off, drawing straws and multiple feigned injury excuses yours truly ended-up training for 6 months 2 to 3 times a week before heading to Kettering on the 4th of May to take on Tough Mudder London North 2013.
This event isn’t normally something that I would take on as an individual but seeing as my potential team mate broke her collar bone only 3 weeks before the event I was left with little choice but to plough head-long into an 11.5 mile, 22 obstacle, and mud filled challenge solo. The great thing is, this made absolutely no difference to how much I enjoyed the whole event, greeted by a buzzing atmosphere it was obvious that everyone was there for the same reason, to have fun….and get electrocuted!
The day is set up in waves, every 20 minutes about 100 to 150 Tough Mudder’s start running. My starting time was 11:00hrs with a wave full of Mudders wearing get-ups ranging from fairy out fits to full-on lycra sports kit. A quick pep talk from the MC followed by a warm up from the guys at Under Armour and we were ushered to the starting line- conveniently located behind a 6 foot wall that you have to vault before even starting! The final step before the start is the reciting of the Tough Mudder creed, which really does embody all that Tough Mudder is about:
After this pep talk we were off, and at this point it soon became apparent that Tough Mudder is most definitely something that you can do on your. Everyone there wants to help you reach the finish.
I instantly started talking to another solo Mudder by the name of Keith who is a second year veteran running by himself and said
out of all the endurance obstacle events I have participated in Tough Mudder is the one with the most camaraderie.
After a few hundred metres we were faced with the first obstacle The Arctic Enema, at this point I was happy to have Keith’s camaraderie as he yelled at me to just jump in and not to think about it. Now I have done open water swims, nudie runs in the snow and stuck my head in the freezer but jumping into that shipping container filled with icy 4 °C water gave a whole new meaning to shrinkage and un-descended testicles!
A good half-hour on I had
- crawled my way through the Kiss of Mud
- jumped off Walk The Plank
- sprinted and then slipped off Island Hopping (which I later discovered resulted in giving me a huge bruise down the right hand side of my back due to landing on a steel cable)
- thrown myself over the Glory Blades
- swam through murky water in the Underwater Tunnels
- slid my way through the concrete tunnels of the Human Gecko.
This now brought me and my surrounding Mudders to the Electric Eel. I was well aware that at some point I would get electrocuted on the Tough Mudder, however I was under the impression that this was only going to be at the last obstacle Electroshock Therapy. The loud cracks and yelps from the Mudders ahead did nothing to settle the nerves, but as my insightful work colleagues had said the more you hesitate the worse it will be! So there is nothing else to do but dive to the ground and skull crawl your way under barbed wire and electric wires hanging down with 10,000 volts running through them (High school science taught me it’s the amps that kill you not the volts, so nothing to worry about really).
Three quarters of the way through the Electric Eel I hadn’t been shocked and my confidence was rising, this was probably a mistake as seconds later a loud crack and thud in the middle of my back had me pressed down face first into the mud. It’s not so much that it hurts, rather that it really hurts! But only for a split second. Needless to say though that after four or five further shocks I was glad to reach the end and carry on to the next part of the course.
Apart from the Arctic Enema, Electroshock and Everest obstacles Tough Mudder and any endurance obstacle course are famous for one thing- mud! I was not disappointed this time. There are two Mud Miles on the course split up by several other obstacles;
- The Boa Constrictor
- Dirty Ballerina (where you actually do look like a somewhat uncoordinated ballerina)
- and Fire Walker (it’s hot!).
On route to the first Mud Mile something that really only would happen during a Tough Mudder occurred. It started to hail! Only a little at first and this was met with cheers of ‘Bring it on’ and laughter from others. This quickly died out as the hailstones grew to about the size of a large pea. I’m fairly sure at this point I had a grin spread from cheek to cheek knowing that I was approaching fields and pools of mud. Running through them made me feel like a 10-year-old kid again mucking around with my brother back home in the Aussie bush. Jumping and crawling through Trench Warfare. Hurdling and sliding my way through and over the most amount of mud I’ve ever seen. By the end I was rewardingly covered head-to-toe in the stuff.
Before reaching the second Mud Mile it was all about wood- logs of wood that is. Carrying tree stumps up hills in the Hold Your Wood challenge and then vaulting or getting fellow Mudders to throw you over log walls at Log Jammin’.
The second Mud Mile was more tame than the first but still just as much fun running through a forest jumping in ice cold streams. At this point I’m sure you’re thinking ‘like hell am I’m doing this’ but I didn’t hear anyone out there complaining or whining. There were a few comments about how good the cider at the end of the course was going to taste but that was about it.
Two miles left to go and the legs were starting to burn. I’m wishing I had of trained just a little bit harder for those last few weeks and maybe had a few less beers. The last few obstacles to face were
- the Hero Carry (where I somehow ended up with a 15 stone bloke thrown over my shoulder and sprinting for 50 meters)
- 10 foot Hero walls which required teams of three to get most over
- The Funky Monkey bars that require momentum and upper body strength to stop you from falling into ice cold water
- the Cage Crawl where only your mouth and face is sticking out of the water as you pass under a 30 meter cage.
This brings me to the final two. Everest and Electroshock Therapy. Both well-known and feared parts of the Tough Mudder course. Everest is big and when I say big I am 6’1 and it was huge. At this point your legs are shot, you’re sucking in the breaths and looking up at this 13-foot half pipe that is just like a giant slippery dip. Your fellow Mudders are either; doing the same as you, running full pelt at the wall and launching themselves up, or leaning off the top of the wall with out-stretched hands hoping to grab hold of a fellow Mudder to haul them up and over.
I stood and watched for a few moments, cheering on the girl on in front of me, who then proceeded to slide down the face of Everest. My turn came and I ran straight for the biggest group of strong looking blokes I could see, as fast as my tired legs could manage, launched myself towards there outstretch arms and grabbed on for dear life. Thankfully it only took this one attempt for me to get up and over as four blokes dragged me over the lip of Everest- resulting only in the loss of some chest hair and skin on my stomach.
The Last one, Electroshock Therapy. So by now I really wasn’t looking forward to once again getting electrocuted. The guy in front of me who was dressed as a giant hot-dog ran through and was shocked to the ground where he had to crawl through the mud getting shocked several more times. Thankfully the cheers and screams of encouragement from the crowd helped the adrenaline keep going. I ploughed straight through as fast as I could only to cop one last shock as I exited sending me arse over head to the floor much to the amusement of the watching crowd!
2 hours 35 minutes and 14 seconds- that’s how long the whole course took me. But as I was given my orange finishers headband, the Tough Mudder shirt and the much-coveted pint of cider the concept of a time and finishing place eroded away. Tough Mudder is all about the challenge, the camaraderie and helping your fellow Mudders cross that finish line.
So after all that, How Tough is Tough Mudder?
It’s one not to be taken lightly and I would defiantly recommend training so I’m going to give it a 7.5/10 on the tough scale.
Open Gallery7 Images
By Drew Hayward