I certainly have had my experiences with Obstacle Course Races (OCR). And I would consider myself to be an active participant in the OCR community. I’ve completed 3 Spartan Sprints, (one of them I ran two laps), the Carolina Spartan Beast, Rogue Runner, Bad Ass Dash, Superhero Scramble with another lined up for April 27. The one event I have not participated in is a Tough Mudder. Not for any reason other than when the opportunity presented itself I wasn’t available to do so. This all changed when I signed up for the GA event April 6 & 7.
I have heard the horror stories of DC (cancelled day 2 for logistical reasons). Florida – 10 mile 4 hour traffic jam where participants were known to jump out of their car and jog a range of miles to make it for their heat. I was working in Vermont at the time for their second event. And had a chance to walk around the festival area and talk to some of the participants. Everyone had great things to say and from what I saw, the folks at Tough Mudder put on a world-class event. Below is my story of my experience as a first time Mudder.
We arrived on site Saturday afternoon and I immediately felt a few pre race jitters seeing Log Jam, Pirates Booty, and Everest while on our way to park. Upon Arrival we proceeded to walk around the festival area, this is one area TM puts on a great show. Music, giant turkey legs, Dos Equis beer and the continued camaraderie you can find the previous 10 miles of your adventure. We mingled, found a few friends checked out their merch tent and left to leave the rest for our Sunday start time.
Sunday morning was like any other race, bib pick up mingle with friends and head to the start line, certainly not before heading to the Bic tent to receive our Mohawk benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. Then, hopping over the starting wall to hear Start Line Sean commence the race.
Sean delivered powerful stories of previous mudders overcoming life’s obstacles and we took moment of silence for our military. What really moved me was standing there with a few hundred strangers singing the national anthem, an amazing experience to say the least. With that, we were off.
Tough Mudder had some great obstacles and certainly kept their usual ones in there as well, keeping in tact with their photo opportunity moments. Arctic Enema proved to be the freezing leap of faith it promises to be. Everest was another obstacle that seemed to live up its reputation. After witnessing numerous mudders jump with extended arms to be pulled by fellow runners I followed the advice of 3-time mudder Matt B. Davis. Run as fast and far as you can and jump at the last second. I practically jumped over the platform and continued gracefully down the other side.
Electric Eel was an obstacle I wasted no time getting through. I couldn’t understand why any one would try and do it slowly. I was hit, multiple times and it only made me want to move faster as did a few of the obstacles.
Another great addition to this year’s Tough Mudder event was a clear path for spectators. Nearly at every obstacle were hay bales for spectators, something I did not see at Vermont #2. This allowed many cheers from the crowd as we were completing everything TM threw at us.
In true TM fashion, Electro Shock Therapy was the final obstacle right before being crowned as a Tough Mudder. I have seen the horror of those getting shocked and immediately finding a face full of mud. As of Sunday April 7th I felt that horror. Matt told me don’t wait, just go. I went but I also went down, and when I tried to get back up I went down again.
There’s a certain process that rushes through ones brain lying face down in mud wondering, “How did I get here, but more importantly how do I get out.” Get up and keep going. That’s all I can say. It hurts but only for a second and the feeling of crossing that finish line and being crowned with their signature orange headband is beyond the pain you may have just felt.
I wouldn’t say the Tough Mudder by any means is a difficult obstacle course. You can always look around and find another mudder to help you out. Can’t complete an obstacle? No worries. Need help getting over a fear? Ask for it. Tough Mudder has truly built a brand of teamwork, a brand where finishing is more powerful than finishing fast. After all in your race packet is a wristband, a tag for your drop bag and a bib number. There is no timing chip but… “I understand the Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.”
Editor’s Note: It was great fun doing my 4th Mudder with a 1st Timer. It made for a really great experience. I also was impressed with the new obstacles Tough Mudder brought out this year. Just The Tip , Glory Blades, Cage Crawl, and the Wounded Warrior Carry were all fun and challenging. There was also a fire jump into 8-10 feet of water, which was awesome and something I had never seen before.