The training paid off…and, at the same time, I wasn’t fully prepared.
11.5 miles, 27 obstacles (I think) and a boatload of mud to complete my first Tough Mudder.
You may recall the debacle of early September in Maryland and what led me to decide to tackle it in NJ in late October.
Fortunately, the weather held up (high 50s and early 60s) and I completed the course in 2 hours and 50 minutes.
The map of the course doesn’t really do it justice, so herewith, a quick breakdown of the obstacles.
- Artic Enema-
You jump into a pool of ice and swim for 10 feet. It’s your “welcome to Tough Mudder” moment and I can’t even begin to describe how cold it is and how quickly you numb it. It takes a good 4-5 minutes to even being to thaw out.
- Mud Mile-
Up and down a series of mud hills into a pool of mud (chest high) and back again. I think they mixed the mud with cow manure for added effect.
- Berlin Walls-
Not too bad a climb up over an 9 foot wall
- Kiss of Mud
Honestly, I’m not even sure what this is. Probably more mud.
- Balls to the Wall
With a rope, you scale a 20 foot high wall, then back down the other side.
- Pirate’s Booty
A swim across 100 ft or so of open water. I used the rope to help pull me across.
A run between some live fires. Fire Dept. and all, but not a huge deal.
- Electric Eel
You crawl on your belly (in mud again, see the theme), while live wires of electricity shock you. I didn’t even feel them until the end, but some girl next to me was screaming in pain.
- Underwater Tunnels
A jump into a pond (about neck deep-ish) and then you bob in and out in between barrels on top.
- Hangin Tough-
Using rings, you are supposed to swing like a monkey from one side to the other over a pool of muddy water. I made it halfway through, fell into the water, and felt a small “pop” in my shoulder. Injury #1
- Ladder to Hell
Not a big deal, climbing a wall and then back down.
- Smoke Chute
Unexpected. You climb up a wall and then see a tunnel on the other side with a straight down drop. It’s a leap of faith. Oh, and while you are there, you can’t see so much because it’s so smoky. Eventually you land in a pool of…yep, muddy water.
- Peg Legs
They place logs vertically (like lily pads) in the water and you are supposed to hop from one to the other to get to the other side. Your shoes are caked in mud. The wood is slippery. I took an absolutely nasty fall, slamming my chest and leg into the wood pylons, landing in the water. At this moment, I distinctly remember think, “this may have not been such a good idea. I could have gotten a concussion or died and I have kids. Then, I said ‘I am definitely going to feel that in the morning.”
- Twinkle Toes
This may seem like an easy one, but it was the one of which I was most proud. A balance beam over water. A few times, I almost lost my balance, but thinking back to my yoga practice, I regained balance and made the 15 foot trek.
- Funky Monkey
Monkey bars that go on an incline up and then back down. I had really practiced this one, but only made it half way before falling down into the water. The water up the nose was the worst part.
- Boa Constrictor
Crawling on your stomach through water and under barbed wire.
- Walk the Plank
A 25 foot drop into a pool of water. Straight down.
- Trench Warfare
Climbing on your belly for about 35 feet over mud and rocks in a darkened tunnel that bends and winds. Killed my knees and arms.
- Berlin Walls 2
12 foot high walls to scale. Impossible to do without the help of other people. More on that in a minute.
- Wounded Warrior Carry
TM is very connected to Wounded Warrior, so this part pays homage to disabled vets. You carry one of your teammates for about 50 yards
You sprint at full speed (remember, this is after 11 miles) and run up the side of a half-pipe, trying to grab the top and pull yourself up. I managed to make it happen on go #1 and did have some assistance to pull me up (another theme).
With the finish line in sight, you dash through (what they say are 10,000 volts of electricity.)
Honestly, I didn’t feel anything, but took a nasty spill at the end and some photographer was right in my face.
Now, keep in mind that when you are running, you are (for the most part) running through mud, so every step is real work.
What impressed me about Tough Mudder were a few things.
- The Marketing-after all, it’s what pulled me in in the first place. They play to your ego, your ambition, your desire to be tough. By teaming up with Under Armour and Dos Equis (I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s after the Tough Mudder and it’s Dos Equis), they really bring it home. The signs, the music, the attitude…everything is so well done. Even the “pump you up” MC at the beginning.
- The Camraderie-as they say (constantly)… “Tough Mudder isn’t a race, it’s a challenge,” and “Leave No Mudder Behind.” Everyone is supportive and helpful, particularly on the obstacles that require assistance. Very impressive.
I met and ran with some great folks. My personal favorite was a Chabad guy from Crown Heights, Brooklyn who had 6 kids and single-handedly destroyed the stereotype. He was super fast and strong. Seeing his beard and tzitzit (religious undergarments) totally caked in mud was priceless.
Would I do it again? I don’t know. I’m hurting now and I’m sure I’ll be in ridiculous pain tomorrow. That one Peg Leg moment was really scary, but the feeling of accomplishment, of overcoming the fears was certainly worth it.