Tough Mudder Review
Tough Mudder 2012 in the books. I completed it and had a blast. To begin I can say, without a doubt, that this was a unique and rewarding experience. My wife, my cousin and my nephews came along to cheer our team on and watch us get electrocuted…..the kids thought it was hilarious.
Mudder Morning 9/9/2012:
We had the 9:00 start time and we were advised to arrive 2 hours prior to the event. So, up at 5am. Drink a crap ton of water, Gatorade and some Naked brand “Blue Machine” juice. On the drive to the Mudder, I had to choke down some Power/protein bars so that I would have some sustained energy. We arrived in Cascade, Wisconsin, parked and began the walk to the Mudder grounds. Parking, check in and registration were a breeze so we had at least an hour to spare. Could have arrived later, but if I would have pushed the time, my luck would have ensured that I would have missed the Mudder. I always show up early…way too early.
It was a beautiful morning. Crisp fall chill in the air. Sunny, a few puffy clouds and NO WIND. Awesome, couldn’t have asked for a better morning. Temperature expected to be in the low 70s. PERFECT. Not too hot, not too cold…perfect for an 11 mile jaunt.
Stretching, jumping, pissing 10 or so times……the usual. Take some photographs…mill around.
About a half hour before our 9am start time we were directed to the starting area. I have to admit, I got some butterflies. I know, I know, its not a race, its not timed…..but still….I really didn’t know what to expect. So I was nervous. I choked down some energy/protein drink, took some group photos, laughed at some of the outfits that other competitors were wearing and headed to the start…..only to be greeted by a wall. That’s right a wall to climb over just to start. Necessary, no….funny, yes. Climb over wall, pack into starting area.
The Mudder is all about teamwork, helping other Mudders, having fun and completing the course. The pre race pump up guy is good and reminded us of this. He knew how to pump up the crowd. They played some Rocky music, which always gets me pumped, and we sang the national anthem. We gave the “Mudder Pledge” promising not to be an ass and to help others and we were ready.
After the Pre Mudder pump up talk and music, the countdown began and off we went through the orange smoke. Too late now….I was running in the Mudder. Our group consisted of 6 people total (3 men, 3 women) and we agreed to stay in a group, meaning we could run ahead, but should wait for each other at the start of any obstacle. Seriously, that is what this event is for. Helping your team over the obstacles, encouraging them along the way and helping all involved get to the end.
A mile in I felt freaking great. The pace was great.
The first obstacle had us climb under some barb wire in the mud……then we ran another mile or so, we the hit some mogul type area that was muddy and full of water. LOVED IT!. Muddy as hell! We ran some more and we hit what may be the worst freaking obstacle on the planet, The Arctic Enema. The Enema is a huge tub of ice water, which was at 32 degrees F. Being such an early start group, the ice was full and not melted at all. I went into this promising myself that I would not “think” about the obstacles, I would just go. So go I did…jump in to the Arctic Enema…COLD…then we had to submerge to go under a board. This sucked. I got the worst “Ice Cream Headache” ever. The ice was heavy and I was thinking that I may be stuck in this hell, but I got out OK. I had to collect myself a bit after this obstacle..but off I went.
Off we went. Going into this thing I was worried about swimming obstacles. Well, shortly after the Enema, there she was…a swimming obstacle. Swim to some barrels, swim under them, repeat 3 times, swim out. I made it, but doggy paddling is tiring….regardless….made it. We continued on. To be honest, at this point, I had no idea how far we were. The next mile marker I remember is mile six. I was amazed. I was feeling great! No endurance issues at all! Thank you ThunderDome Running! Sure, this wasn’t 6 miles non stop, there were aid stations with water and half bananas and there was some minimal waiting at obstacles, but still six miles is SIX Miles.
The next miles were running, climbing over large walls, crawling in mud, crawling in tubes into mud and back out (scratched the hell out of my knees and elbows), rinse repeat. Oh yeah, there was more swimming….AFTER DIVING OFF A 15+ foot platform. This obstacle, called, “Walk the Plank” was awesome. I can’t swim, but to hell with that…..OFF THE PLANK I WENT. SPLASH INTO 17′ deep water….doggy paddle for my life out and continue running.
Climb out of the water pit and keep running. Stop at aid station, drink water, keep running, climb in mud…yeah, you get the idea. This last half of the Mudder was a lot of running. Running through mud up to your ankles, running through corn fields, open fields, etc…..Then…mile 10 hit.
Mile 10 – Mile 11
We were nearing the end, which means we have Monkey Bars, Electric obstacles and Everest to conquer and we are done!. Monkey bars “Funky Monkey” no problem, made it through, off we go….Electric Eel! SUCKED. Climb on belly, through mud water while getting zapped in the ass by electricity. You would get zapped even when others did, because the current ran through the water and hit you. I felt it in my balls, current right through the balls….ZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAP! I saw some dude just dive in and basically run through this eel…likely the best way to go.
After the Eel was “Everest”. I did not make it. This is my biggest Mudder regret. I failed. The old man groin blew on my one attempt……i fell down the half pipe and went around. The rest of my team made it up! Next year…I will bound up this sucker like Clay Matthews over the Bears Left Tackle. This obstacle is cool. I can’t wait until I can run full speed again for this one. Everest, you will be mine!
After Everest we were nearly done….except for Electroshock Therapy. Run through some dangling wires…..with 10,000 volts. Yeah, ZAAAP. We decided to just GO. I got blasted in the back and hit the ground. I crawled through the rest of this area and made it through. One member of my team got shocked about 6 times haha. He hated it and was cussing up a storm. Regardless…this was the end. WE ALL FINISHED! Orange head band was on, Dos Equis in hand!!
Post Mudder Thoughts / Critique / Review:
I will go on the record stating that I loved the Tough Mudder and would do it again. That being said I do have some thoughts.
The course was great. Quintessential Wisconsin. Corn fields, woods, water, shotgun shells in the mud, neighbors in a hay wagon drinking beer cheering us on and friendly people. The grounds were well kept and seemed to have held up well from the beating they took the day before.
The Tough Mudder is, well, tough, but not as deadly/tough as I had it built up in my head. Any person in good shape can make it through the obstacles and the course. I understand why though. You can’t have an event for normal people which may kill them. The obstacles are likely as tough as they can be when you take into account who participates, the local area restrictions and, well, the event’s insurance and legal regulations. Having average Joes getting electrocuted, diving off 15+ foot platforms and diving into freezing water is likely as “tough” as this thing is allowed to be. Additionally, Tough Mudder is what YOU make it. There were people on the course who walked through the whole thing, skipped obstacles and basically just walked their way to an orange headband. If this is what you decide is earning your orange headband, then so be it. Personally, if I am to sign up for and attempt an event like this, I am going to try every obstacle and run as much as I can. If you want to get nuts, sign up for the first wave. The first wave is at about 8am and is timed. Often these people are looking to finish in the top 5% to be invited to The World’s Toughest Mudder. This wave runs through the whole 11 miles with minimal stops, get up walls on their own and rip through the course…that would be freaking TOUGH. 11 miles, through this course, non stop would be freaking unbelievable. That may be my goal for next year or the year after.
In conclusion to the “is it tough discussion”. Yes, its tough, its brutal. If you are not in shape, if you do not have your cardio dialed in, if you cannot run at least 4 miles, you will be in trouble or will be walking. If I had not trained like a madman for the last 2-3 months, I wouldn’t have made it. Hell, after an early June 3 mile course, I was exhausted….this sucker is 11 miles! If you want to walk to the end, you can just show up. If you want to experience the mudder, you need to be in shape and ready to roll.
I am happy with what I did. We finished in 3 hours, I was exhausted and I pushed myself to the limit at times. I can’t swim, so I swam. I have never ran 11 miles, so I ran 11 miles (some stops haha). I hate electricity so I got Electrocuted…..I also like the mudder culture. Sure there are some meatheads involved, but for the most part people are very friendly and looking to help each other through the course….Everest is a great demonstration of this.
For next year’s Wisconsin Course I would like to see one of the log carrying obstacles and I will look to push the time a bit, but other than that, I will look to push myself physically and GET UP EVEREST!
In the end I want to say Thank you to Tough Mudder. You helped me set a goal, get in shape and conquer some of my fears (swimming for one). Sure I wasn’t near death, but at the end I was cramping up, my hips were on fire, I was full of mud and my beer hand was shaking……that’s what I signed up for! See you next year!