My WTM 2014 Saga – Part Two

Click here so you can catch up on Part One first.


Off we went onto our 2nd lap, and the first “real” lap with obstacles. The first few obstacles come and go with no fan fare, walk through some mud, go over some walls, no biggie. Then we approached “Weigh Too Tough”. This is the first challenge of what I would refer to in an interview with CEO Will Dean and Nolan Kombol as “Next Level Shit”.

For those of us that have done 20 or 30 or even 50 plus obstacle races and mud runs, it’s difficult to impress us or surprise us. Most events have the same challenges or different versions of the same obstacles over and over. After a year or so, of some saying Tough Mudder has gotten too easy, TM seems to have turned a corner and invested lots of brain power into obstacle innovation. The obstacles that debuted at World’s Toughest were loved by all for their combination of creativity, difficulty and fun.

As you approach Weigh Too Tough, you find a sign asking you to fill a 5 gallon bucket with a certain weight of water, gravel, or sand. Then, you must make a loop around with that bucket and have it weighed. If you do not make the targeted weight plus or minus a few pounds, you have to complete again until done correctly. I love the idea, that your penalty is not just to complete a penalty lap, but to keep going until you get it right. The pressure of theoretically having to keep going forever, makes this obstacle extra fun. Look how thrilled Junyong Pak is after guessing correctly this first time through in this video.

Next up was another new obstacle. “Birth Canal” is a simple, yet deceptive obstacle. You crawl under some plastic which is covered in some strange pink liquid. At first glance, it just looks like another obstacle to do an army crawl through. However, as you go through, the more pressure you apply, the harder it gets. The liquid above you is working against you to get through. The trick is to stay as low as possible and apply as little pressure as you can with your back. As you near the end, you can not escape putting pressure on the liquid above you, and it truly feels like being pushed out into life.

Birth Canal

The next new TM obstacle is something called The Gamble. Roll some dice and choose your fate. First time through 1-5 gets a free pass, 6 gets you bad news. So of course, I rolled a 6. Electroshock Therapy is my penalty. I have done several Tough Mudders and been shocked several times, and prior to today did not have much of an issue with it. Typically at the end of a Tough Mudder, while many are standing around psyching themselves up and delaying the inevetiable, I approach this obstacle by getting it over with asap. The trick has always been to cover my face with my fists and run through as fast as possible. This makes me as skinny as possible by giving the shocks the least amount of body surface to hit (as opposed to crawling through). It also covers my face somewhat from a direct hit. At a normal Tough Mudder, I blaze through, get hit 1-3 times, feel shocked as shit, but survive and come out and get my orange headband victorious. Then, its time to lick wounds, get a post race beverage and bask in the completion. That is at a “normal” Tough Mudder.

I failed to think that my day would NOT be over after completion of this obstacle. As I began to run through I notice that the ground is not flat underneath me. They have installed little mud hills, which force you to get shocked more as you go over them. I am not sure what else happened next. All I know is I as I got zapped, knocked to my knees, and then ran through the rest of the obstacle screaming “Fuck! Fuck! OW! Fuck!”. When I got to the end, I laid down for fear of almost passing out from screaming so loud. That is when I noticed my knee was really banged up. Doc and Ryan both ran over and had that look that was like “Dude, you got shocked to shit, went down hard and that looked like it really sucked”. I stood up and was limping a little. I was so mad. I was only a couple of hours into a 24 hour race and now I had the potential of being slowed down by a really dumb obstacle. In the past, I have judged others that have bypassed electric obstacles and thought lesser of them, I no longer have that feeling. Electric shock obstacles are dumb, I will not do them again.

Thankfully, my mood was picked right back up as we approached “Swingers”. This is another new obstacle that everyone loved. Part One-Jump onto a short bar that is hanging over a water pit. Part Two-Swing out. Part Three-Jump off, and ring a bell. If you miss the bell, land in water and do a ¼ mile penalty lap. Hit the bell, still land in water. That part one is trickier than it first appears. You can miss the short bar and go straight into the water. You must also jump a lot later than you think to make that bell. Early in the day, TM made it ok to hit the bell with your foot, as the day went on, they changed it to hands earlier, making it even harder. It was an obstacle that pass or fail, (I failed) was impossible not have fun on. It is important to note at this point, that my team of Doc and Ryan were sticking together throughout. Some obstacles, I was not successful. Some everyone failed. Some I passed, Some, two (or all three) passed. Regardless of what happened, we would wait for the others. This was extremely reassuring as I knew I would need people with me to make it all night.

Next up was “Grabbin Shaft”. Another super creative and challenging obstacle over a pit of water. This time, you grab on to some monkey bars, then transition to a trapeze bar. From the trapeze bar, you transition over to a pole which you could navigate with your arms only or wrap your whole body around with arms and legs. If you fail this one, you have to do a penalty lap while carrying a cinder block. I did not pass, but had fun regardless, and got yet another reminder that I need to work on my upper body and grip strength. It also did not get lost on me that in the future, it was not going to be as pleasant. Late at night and early in the am the next day, when it was much colder and/or windier, this would be another opportunity to be wet and miserable.


Part Three coming much faster than it took to get from One to Two, promise.

Photos courtesy of Jay Garcia (Birth Canal), and J.D. Allen (for ORM) (Grabbin Shaft).

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
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