I’m pretty sure we all have that one friend who is all, “Man…I’d love to run a Tough Mudder, but there’s no way that I can run ten miles…and I have ZERO interest in getting shocked or swimming through ice water!” Well, get that friend on the phone, because they no longer have any excuses now that the Tough Mudder Half has arrived.
Dubbed “Tough Mudder Lite” by some, the Tough Mudder Half is a kindler/gentler version of the popular obstacle course event. The very first Tough Mudder Half took place this past Sunday at Glen Helen Raceway in Southern California, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it. And as an added bonus, I got to run this event with my teenage son. No pressure, Dad.
This Tough Mudder Half was a five-mile course, with 16 obstacles scattered about. In an effort to appeal to a greater audience, a few of the more “scary” obstacles have been omitted. Two of the most noticeable absences were Arctic Enema and Electroshock Therapy.
Here’s a fun little recap of our experience at this new event:
Following a hassle free check-in and bag drop, we made our way to the “Warm Up Zone”, where the ridiculously handsome Eric Emerson Botsford (E-Rock if you’re nasty) jumped and gyrated and got the first wave participants all loose and limber.
Tough Mudder’s legendary start line MC Sean Corvelle met us all in the start chute, and blessed us with one of his signature motivational speeches. A few minutes later, our Hokas were in motion and we were out on the course.
Although this was “only a Half,” the course design was not without its challenges. The Glen Helen Raceway is filled with big steep hills, and this course took you up and down a few of the biggest ones out there, including right out of the start chute. Getting “chick’d” by my son in the first half mile was not how I had seen my day going. But what do I know? I’m old.
The first couple miles of the course were spent trudging along in the hills, with an occasional obstacle thrown in. One of these was The Cliffhanger, which was a big steep, calf burning climb. The higher you climbed, the steeper it became. There were ropes available about half way up to assist those whose legs had reached their max.
This was really the last big hill of the course, so once we made it to the top it was pretty much downhill and flats going forward. It was from this point, that the obstacles starting coming at a much higher frequency.
At the bottom of the hill, we worked our way up and over the muddy mounds of Mud Mile 2.0. It was in this obstacle that my son learned a valuable OCR lesson about why we always double knot our shoes. After a few minutes of fishing around for his size 11, we got ourselves back on track (with our shoes double knotted).
Next up was Devil’s Beard, which is a large cargo net that is pulled tightly to the ground. Simply put, this is obstacle is a pain in the ass. Most people found that either bending at the waist or crawling on your hands and knees was the best way through. Almost everyone going through has their heads down, so there was a high probability that you were going to be bumping your head into someone’s ass at some point.
As we moved along through a few more obstacles, we came upon Walk the Plank (climb up tall structure…jump off into water). This was a bit of a disappointment to me (and my son) because we were hoping that it had remained King of Swingers, as it had been during the full Mudder the previous day. Undeterred, we jumped, swam, and carried on down the course.
Oh hey…speaking of disappointments, I was also bummed to see that a new obstacle for Tough Mudder this year called Block Ness Monster was not included in the Half. Tough Mudder bills this as “their most highly rated obstacle ever”. Is it? I certainly think so…as do others. So, hey Tough Mudder…fix this please! Okay…back to my review.
From there we maneuvered up the classic quarter pipe obstacle known as Everest 2.0. As all good OCR parents should, I made sure that my boy and I stuck around at the top for a little while, and helped pull a few of our fellow Mudders to the peak.
The 12 foot Berlin Wall was next. This one required a little extra coaching on my part, since I’d like my son to have children of his own someday…and we all know that if you transition over the wall incorrectly, well…yeah. Ouch.
With my son’s fertility intact, we slogged forward through the mud trench known as Quagmire, and shimmied our way under the water bags at Birth Canal 2.0.
This brought us to Kiss of Mud 2.0. Now as a parent, you always want to help prepare your children for the pitfalls in life. Well, I happen to know from experience that although this obstacle appears to be just a muddy crawl under barbed wire, there is actually a nice little trench that is dug out in the center. If you don’t know it’s there, it’s pretty easy to slip into it. A responsible parent would warn their children of such things. I’m not saying that I’m not a responsible parent; I’m just saying that I also don’t mind a little laugh at someone else’s expense. Did I warn him? No. Did he slip into the trench? Yep! Was it hilarious? Of course it was…to me.
Once my son was talking to me again, we made our way down the home stretch. We hopped over the inverted wall know as Skidmarked. When you’re running along with an irritated teenager, coming across an obstacle called Skidmarked is a great way to put a smile back on his face. Thanks Tough Mudder!
This lead us to our 16th and final obstacle of the course. A Tough Mudder Half exclusive know as the Flying Squirrel. This is a spinoff of the Tramp Stamp obstacle from World’s Toughest Mudder 2015, only they made it less likely to break your ankle.
You essentially jump off a small trampoline and hopefully have enough lift to grab the knotted rope out in front of you. If you can, you hang on for dear life and slide down like a zip line to the bottom. As a short guy who completed Tramp Stamp zero times at World’s Toughest Mudder in 2015, I am a big fan of this obstacle.
Coming off the Flying Squirrel, it was a straight shot to the finish line. We could see all of the volunteers lined up, cheering us on and waiting to present us with our white headbands. My son and I crossed the finish line together with our hands above our heads. It was a great moment for me, and hopefully for him too.
I really like what Tough Mudder is doing with this Half. I think it’s going to work well for them. A majority of the people that I spoke to in the “Mudder Village” afterwards were first timers. They were people trying their first OCR event ever. This is exactly what Tough Mudder is after. The best thing about it, to me, is that never once did the experienced feel “cheapened” at all. Just because the distance may be shorter, it doesn’t mean that the effort into the event was any less. It felt just as solid, if not more so, than the regular Tough Mudder experience. And I’m happy to have shared that experience with my son.
Carlo is one half of the not yet world famous YouTube duo known as "The Pis-N-Cox Show".