Tough Mudder Arizona: Putting the Mud in Mudder

TM AZ Pyramid Scheme

Tough Mudder returned to the Grand Canyon state this past weekend, setting up shop once again at the old General Motors proving ground in Mesa. This venue is considered by many to be one of the “easier” TM courses, due to its physical similarities to Milla Jovovich (hot and flat). Participants were greeted with much milder temps this year, along with partly cloudy skies and a steady wind.  They were also greeted with some fun new obstacles, and mud….lots and lots of mud. I understand that the word mud is in their title, but I’ve done numerous TM’s where you get a lot more wet than you do muddy. Well, not this time.

The course started out fairly innocuously. The entire first mile was an obstacle-less jaunt through the dry and (very) dusty terrain. Kiss of Mud 2.0 was the first obstacle of the day, and it was followed closely by 6 Feet under. This was essentially a large muddy pit (about knee deep) that you had to slog through. Hopefully, you had your shoes laced up tight, because if you didn’t, you were likely to end up digging for them. A rope ladder got you, and the 8 pounds of mud stuck to your shoes, out of this obstacle. Little did we know at the time that it was the muddy prelude of what our day would become.

TM AZ 6 Feet Under

Tough Mudder did us a solid and made Cage Crawl (and Rain Man, for the Legionnaires) the next obstacle. This served as a nice way to rinse off some of that mud we had acquired.  If you’re one who tends to be a little claustrophobic, then this obstacle can be quite a challenge. Pulling yourself through a watery trench with only an inch or so of space between your face and the chain link fencing above you definitely has a way of freaking some people out. But I suppose that’s the point, after all.

By the time you got through Birth Canal and Hero Carry, just about three of your ten miles were done. It was about this time that the mud returned. Quagmire was up next, which was another large muddy hole in the ground that we had to traverse. This one would occasionally get as much as waist deep and had people slipping and grasping at their friends for support. There was no rope ladder to exit this one. It definitely required some teamwork, especially for shorties like me.

Almost immediately, Skidmarked, which is an eight-foot wall that is slanted towards you, required conquering. The placement of these obstacles back to back made this fairly easy obstacle a bit more of a challenge. As the day went on, and more and more muddy bodies passed over the walls, everything got nice and slick. The shredded bark below the walls saved more than a few people’s ankles.

Since the weather was still rather mild at this point, coming across Arctic Enema 2.0 at mile four was not my favorite, although my spirits were instantly lifted when I remembered the fun little twist that my friends and I like to put on this obstacle.  Here’s what you do: enter the obstacle with a few friends; when you’ve hopped the wall and are about to get out…DON’T; instead, start playing Rock/Paper/Scissors with your friends. Winner gets out; loser stays in until they win. Eventually, you’ll be down to just one friend left in there. Watching the looks they get from strangers when they try to convince them to play along is priceless.

By completing Funk Monkey 2.0, you essentially had reached the halfway point of the course. To me, this is when things started to get really fun…and REALLY muddy.  An absolute muddy gauntlet awaited us, and we had no idea…probably because we didn’t read the course map, but whatever.

It started with Soggy Bottom, which was yet another giant mud pit that you had to navigate through. This one was about waist deep, and the mud was very thick. Some people actually found it was easier to try and “swim” through it, rather than have your feet sink deeper and deeper with each step. Once you slipped your way out of that, you ran past a lemonade stand. I’m not even kidding. This was not a desert mirage; there was actually a guy on the side of the course selling lemonade. I’d never seen that before at any Mudder.

At this point, while you’re still caked with mud from your taint to your toes, you come across Mud Mile 2.0. I’ve done this obstacle many, many times. This was easily the best one I’ve ever come across. First off, there was something like eight trenches that had been dug. A majority of them were thigh to waist deep. Getting out of one and into the next required the assistance of lots of muddy hands for most folks.

TM AZ Mud Mile

What really made this portion of the course great was that they followed up these two very muddy obstacles with Pyramid Scheme. It’s a slanted wedge wall, with a slippery surface that on its own can be a challenge to climb up.  This had all the makings of an absolute shit show, and it didn’t disappoint.

Columns of people clung to each other and climbed one another, as they worked to get to the top. Every few minutes or so, one of these human columns would start to buckle. The surrounding spectators would start to giggle with anticipation. Once it started to crumble, there was no stopping it. Three, four, sometimes five people or more would helplessly slide back down to the base of the obstacle, laughing and screaming as they went…much to the delight of all on hand.

I cannot recall the last time I had that much fun on a single obstacle.

TM AZ Pyramid Scheme

Moving on from that mayhem, you climbed the roped wall known as Balls to the Wall. Again, the mud from the previous obstacles made this one a bit slicker than usual, so caution was needed to ensure that my day didn’t end at mile 6.5.

The next obstacle was a new one called Turducken. This was another really enjoyable obstacle. You climbed up a dirt hill to a downward facing plastic sewer-type pipe. Sliding down the pipe dumped you into a chest deep pool of water. From there you had to swim over to a pair of logs that stretched across the pool. The first log had barbed wire above it, and you swam under it. The second log had no barbed wire, and you climbed over it.  Climbing on top of the second log and doing a cannon ball off of it is evidently “frowned upon” by TMHQ….but I thoroughly enjoyed my moment of rebellion.

As we were exiting Turducken, Mother Nature decided to throw us a curve in the form of a 10 minute deluge of rain mixed with high wind. Having just come from a water obstacle, the wind and rain kicked up the desert floor enough that we all resembled breaded chicken legs.  By the time the rain stopped, we had reached The Liberator and Backstabber. The latter of which is a new Legionnaire only obstacle. Built on the same A-frame as Liberator, it only has a single row of peg holes, and they start further up the wall. The foot holds are also wider apart on this one. It’s a great upper body test.

Block Ness Monster (aka the greatest obstacle ever) was next up and was closely followed by the first Berlin Wall. After scaling the wall you ran down to King of Swingers, failed to hit the bell for the 22nd consecutive time (if you’re me), and then ran back to scale another Berlin Wall.

TM AZ Block Ness

Believing that the mud was behind us turned out to be a mistake, as Pitfall suddenly appeared on the horizon. This was yet another large mud and water filled pit, but this one had deep trenches dug out that you could not see until it was too late and you were flailing on your side like a dinosaur in the La Brea tar pits.

Because Tough Mudder likes to piss me off, they went ahead and added Devil’s Beard next. As I mentioned in a previous review, this is an obstacle that serves no purpose other than to irritate me. Screw that thing.  A quick ascent up Everest 2.0, and we were off to the finish line. As a Legionnaire, I bypassed Electroshock Therapy and opted for the new Frequent Flyers Club.

TM AZ Frequent Flyer

Much praise is deserved to the course designers for this event. They don’t have the mountains or hills or creeks to work with that other venues have. They instead used creativity and stacked some obstacles in a series of ways that made this a fun and unique experience.

Oh yeah…and mud. They used lots and lots of mud.


Carlo Piscitello

Despite his young appearance, Carlo is the loving father of two tolerant teenagers. He loves OCR events, Dad Jokes, and Lola...his 7 year old blue nosed Pitbull.

Carlo is one half of the not yet world famous YouTube duo known as "The Pis-N-Cox Show".

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