Saturday 8th June saw hoards of eager faces heading to the Matterley Estate for the London South edition of Tough Mudder. Weird, seeing as the Matterley Bowl is 5 miles from Winchester, which in turn is 70 miles South of London. The 10-mile course, filled with all manner of obstacles from iced water and electric shocks, to giant walls and lots of commando crawling, was set to be a challenge for even the fittest.
Unlike most previous Mudders, the London South edition was blessed with sunshine and clear skies. Some saw this as a welcomed surprise, whilst others felt the somewhat dry, warm conditions took away from the extreme nature of the race.
The day started with a swift registration, then getting numbered-up, warmed-up and before we knew it was time to man-up and race! Taking the pledge with hundreds of other runners, whilst shouting, growling and generally being very over enthusiastic about the impending challenge certainly got everyone fired up. It was straight into the challenges, the high jump into cold water proving a little higher than many thought! There were a few standout obstacles along the way: the freezing water proved refreshing, the monkey bars very slippery and the electric shocks seemed to be rather picky about who they shocked and how hard. All the obstacles were evenly placed throughout the run, proving a great mix whilst also giving a couple of longer runs which really allowed people to find their strides.
It was fantastic to see all manner of people taking part: men, women, a lot of fancy dress, a super gran and lots of semi-naked people taking the opportunity to prove themselves and flash some flesh. Throughout the race one of the most impressive things to see was the camaraderie between all of the teams; most really embracing the Tough Mudder team spirit.
But I suppose what you all want to know is was it really that tough and muddy? Well, if I am honest, I think this was one of the nicer Mudders to take part in. Yes, there was a fair bit of running. Yes, the obstacles were a little tough. And yes there was some mud. It was a fantastic challenge to be part of and a lot of fun, but the stunning weather made it all a little easier than it should have been. I can imagine that taking part in a mudder in colder temperatures, when there has been some rain and the weather is generally a little bleaker, would be about a million times harder.
In the sunshine jumping into and then swimming under iced water is a welcome blast of coolness to aching muscles. In the cold this is sure to chill you to the core and make the rest of the race extremely painful.
In the dry 10-miles of running is a good stretch for the legs and breaks up the obstacles nicely. In the wet anyone not in trail running shoes is sure to slip-slide their way along, rather than manage to actually run in a straight, controlled line.
With a little mud at some stages of the race it was a novelty, with mud fights galore. If the whole course was covered in knee-deep mud, I imagine this would be more of a constant battle.
In short, it is a challenge for all, but one that is more than achievable for anyone that has a relative amount of fitness and has put in some training. If you want a real challenge I would suggest signing up to a race outside of the summer months, as I suspect this is when Tough Mudder gets really tough.
Our team’s biggest injury/disaster from the June race
An almost race-ending splinter to the little finger. Luckily, we all pulled together to get our teammate through his devastating injury. Remember people, there’s no I in team!
The highlight of the day
Without a doubt crossing the line with the whole team, collecting a stylish orange Tough Mudder head band and finisher t-shirt, then having an ice cold pint of Strongbow thrust firmly into your hand.