Dan has always wanted to run an obstacle challenge, so of course he chooses the longest and arguably the toughest. He also wanted to compete as a team, so he convinced me (I think there was wine involved), then my cousin Alex (may have been beer involved) and finally cousin-in-law, Brandon (definitely beer involved). Alex is one of those lucky people who is a naturally gifted athlete without trying. Brandon’s motivation was to get healthier.
Last weekend was the big event, the Tough Mudder. The team camped out the night before, which was lucky we did as parking and check-in for the event was a complete mess, we were glad we left early and showed up together.
Our most important team member bailed at the last minute.
The event took place at a ski hill, and once we finally arrived on site things went quite smoothly. We got our bibs and then for some reason the write your number on your forehead, I wasn’t too happy as it was permanent marker.
Looking tough ready for the start.
The challenge starts with having to climb a 6′ wall to get into the start corral. The guys felt everyone should be able to do this themselves, I told Dan to wait until I got over before he went, because sure enough I needed help (apparently I have to work on my fence jumping skills). Once safely ensconced in the corral, a fantastic announcer whipped us into a furry, had us chanting and hoohaing away. Then a whistle blows and we were off, running, up a skill hill. Brandon immediately wished he’d done some hill training, and Dan’s legs had decided that they were still recovering from last weeks done (don’t blame them really) so we were reduced to walking (although I believe this helped us in the long run).
That’s the first wall you have to go over to get to the start line. I knew I was in trouble then.
Below is a list of the obstacles in the order that we did them, below each description is each of our feelings on said obstacle. When we weren’t completing an obstacle we were either running up or down a skill hill!
Getting riled up in the start corral.
Kiss of Mud: Eat dirt as you crawl commando-style under barbed wire set 8 inches from the ground.
Brandon: Rocky muddy hell.
Dan: Wiped the floor with me.
Heather: Cut my leg, but ultimately my smaller stature allowed me to half crawl, although I seemed to pick a lane with more rock than mud.
Alex: Dirty, muddy, rocky. Good opener, got so covered in mud, was nicknamed “naked man”. (Editor note: Alex was sporting some compression shorts, to scarily enough it did look like he may have been naked under all that mud!)
We all agreed that it was possibly the most physical demanding obstacle.
Arctic Enema: First you must bravely jump into Big Mudder’s floating iceberg abyss. Once submerged, find the mental and physical strength to swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before you become hypothermic.
Brandon: Not that bad, almost refreshing.
Dan: Not that bad.
Heather: C c c cold, Dan thought he could hear me surface. I was the vocal team member (yelping, screaming, swearing, etc.)
A: Cold, but good refresher after kiss of mud. Front flipped into the pool and was told “Don’t be a fuck head”, (apparently there was a no diving/jumping rule). Slight panic as I unsure of distance to get under wooden plank.
Berlin Walls 1 (9′): This obstacle relies on teamwork. Scale two 9′ wooden walls with the help of your teammates, strategically placed for when you are at your weakest during the event.
Dan: False sense of security.
Heather: Glad I was running with (tall and strong) boys.
A: A breeze, felt we were jipped one wall.
(Editors note: The original course description had 3 walls)
Alex and Dan making walls look like nothing.
Underwater Tunnels: Bob underneath rows of floating barrels as you battle the frigid water temperatures.
Brandon: Nice and refreshing, walking through silt was shit, but what can you do?
Dan: Easy peasy.
Heather: Easy, it wasn’t cold and you could walk however I didn’t like the amount of silt that ended up in my shoes, ran shoeless until next obstacle trying to shake out all that crap.
Alex: Good swim, refreshing.
Cliff Hanger: Cliff Hanger is an obstacle all about teamwork and camaraderie: a 40+ foot cliff of slippery mud angled at 45-degrees.
Brandon: Disappointingly easy.
Dan: Piece of piss.
Heather: My hands got dirty and the shoes got filled with gunk again, but no trouble really.
A: Disappointing. Not challenging at all.
Hangin Tough: Swing Tarzan-style across a series of hanging rings suspended over a pool of ice-cold water. Rings are placed 4 to 6 feet apart.
Brandon: I hate Alex.
Dan: I never had a chance.
Heather: I made it to the 3rd ring before my lousy upper body strength let me down.
Alex: Loved it, I owned that shit.
Spider’s Web: Crawl like a spider up and over a cargo net suspended between two trees – keep a good grip or you will fall into a tangled web (er, cargo net) below! The net is fastened with tension at the top only, leaving the bottom of the net loose and unsteady. Teamwork has proven to be very helpful for successfully completing this obstacle. Mudders will pull the bottom of the net towards the ground to create tension so their teammates can climb with balance and control.
Brandon: Had its challenges would have been better if we could have worked as a team.
Dan: Not that hard but not as described.
Heather: Due to construction issues much scarier than it needed to be.
Alex: Difficult, organisers confused and more anal than they needed to be, we would have snapped a tree before that cable came down.
(Editors note: There seemed to be some sort of malfunction with the cargo net sliding down the tree, so we were not allowed to pull down on the net to creat tension. In retrospect much more unsafe swaying from an unsupported, falling cargo net!)
Mud Mile: Slosh through up to a mile of waist-deep sludge as you try not to lose your shoes in the mud.
(Editors note: Nothing like that at all 200 meters of wide tranches that required you to jump over the mud or jump down and scramble up.)
Brandon: Lamer than expected.
Dan: A lot harder than expected.
Heather: Tiring, I had to go up and down each one, my hands got dirty again. Thankfully it was maybe only 200 meters.
Alex: Challenging, short but fun.
Trench Warfare: This military-style obstacle requires Mudders to crawl through narrow, dark, muddy trenches.
Brandon: Afraid of getting stuck, skipped it.
Dan: Hell to the no, not going in there, skipped it.
Heather: This was huge for me, very claustrophobic but I made it!! Hands got dirty though.
Alex: It was psychologically challenging, but got easier once I saw light, scratched the shit out of my back.
Walk The Plank: Test your fear of heights and cold all in one with our 15+ feet high jump into freezing water.
Brandon: Awesome, pushed Dan.
Dan: Needed a helping hand.
Heather: Screamed like a girl, but enjoyed it.
Alex: That was fun, I like jumping off shit, felt bad for Dan.
Boa Constrictor: If you don’t like small spaces, this obstacle will be a challenge for you. Crawl through a series of pipes that force you on a downhill into some freezing mud, then a slippery uphill to the other side.
Brandon: Kind of cool.
Dan: Really cool.
Heather: Easy, could crawl out, hands got dirty.
Alex: Not as much water as I thought, but trying to get out was more challenging than expected.
Log Jammin: Jump over and crawl under large logs strewn across the course. This may not sound very difficult, but with fatigued muscles and logs placed at varying heights, the Log Bog Jog has proven to be a challenge for Mudders.
Brandon: That was easy.
Heather: Not too bad is it was not muddy yet, gentlemen less helpful on this challenge, they all took off, my hands got dirty.
Alex: Loved it, sprinted through.
Greased Lightning: Have some fun sliding down this massive slippery slope into a frigid, muddy pool of water at the bottom. Real Mudders go head first.
Brandon: That was awesome, concerned 3/4 of the way through, thought I was going to land in mud but turned out to be water.
Dan: First slip n slide ever! Loved it.
Heather: Wish I went feet first, first (and only) puncture wound of the day. And lot’s of water and mud up my nose.
Alex: Wicked fun, but hurt so bad, arm still swollen, nice plunge at the bottom.
Funky Monkey: Sure monkey bars were easy when you were 5 years old, but you’ll need to hold on extra tight to these. Some have been greased with our finest mixture of mud and butter and if you slip you’ll fall into an icy pond below. Bars are spaced 1.5 feet apart and you will be on an incline upward for the first half of the Monkey and then descending downward for the second portion.
Brandon: That was fun. Fell at half way point.
Dan: Why bother? Saved my energy, jumped straight into the water.
Heather: I made it!
Alex: Wicked, again that’s my shit, “paper clip” strikes again, managed double rungs near the end.
(Editors note: Alex was nicknamed “paper clip” by a bitter man who claimed that anyone could do all the challenges if there were built like a paper clip.)
Electric Eel: Mudders frequently forget about this obstacle since they’re so focused on Electroshock Therapy– but they shouldn’t. Slide on your belly through frigid water or, even worse, a layer of ice and beware of the shocks overhead. Should you try to crawl on your knees, you’ll be smacked with live wires and your body will compulsively contort. Be sure to protect your head, otherwise you might experience what Big Mudder calls a brain reboot.
Brandon: Wasn’t so bad, trying to stay low I whacked my face off the ground.
Dan: Fried my nipple.
Heather: Skipped it, electricity scares me.
A: Wet, got tagged twice so dropped in the mud twice just trying to get out.
Berlin Walls 2 (12′): This obstacle relies on teamwork. Scale two 12′ wooden walls with the help of your teammates, strategically placed for when you are at your weakest during the event.
Brandon: Threw people over but was too exhausted to get myself over.
Dan: Nice to have shoulders to stand on, what was wrong 9′.
Heather: Needed a very big boost, and help to find the ground on the other side
Alex: More complicated, perfect step stool for Dan, Heather’s a lightweight, and with a little help onto the little ledge, I can do it myself.
Dan going over the wall, he used Alex’s face as a step stool.
Hold Your Wood: Make like a lumberjack and carry a heavy log through a section of the Tough Mudder course.
Brandon: Not much help at this point.
Dan: Didn’t find it that bad, just needed better steering instructions on the way down.
Heather: Didn’t do much but call out the ground changes.
Alex: It burned, a lot of fun, need to work on my steering commands, a lot of fun. And need to work on our log dismount.
I actually look like I might be helping in this picture, but realistically Alex and Dan carried it.
Everest: Snowboarders and skate boarders have the half-pipe. Mudders have a real obstacle: Everest. A quarter-pipe that you’ll have to sprint up and enlist the help of other Mudders to hurl you over this beastly summit. Everest is coated in mud and grease, a combination which will likely send you right back from where you came.
Brandon: Took two tries, make sure you keep your hands out of the mud.
Dan: Didn’t think I was going make it, and made it on the first try!
Heather: Ran hard, and grabbed on to helping hands with a death grip, however you need to lean forward and let the people pull you up, otherwise you’re just pulling on them.
A: Wicked, almost punched three people in face I ended up so high on the board. Good team building. You have to sprint. Timing is everything. Trust in your fellow mudder is key.
Note the girl in the background leaning back when she should be leaning forward.
Electroshock Therapy: Sprint through a field of live wires — some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. Watch out for hay bales and deep mud, or you will face-plant into some electrifying mud. Some Mudders try to stealthily wind their way through the wires without getting shocked, while others barrel forward to get through as quickly as possible. Either way, you are guaranteed to get zapped with as much as 10,000 volts of electricity and it does NOT tickle. This is typically the last obstacle Mudders must overcome before they cross the finish line.
Brandon: Sucked balls, don’t get hit in the head.
Dan: Not bad, but apparently not meant to leave a man behind (or wife) missed my nipple.
Heather: Did not want to do it but there were a lot of people watching. I went down, hard, multiple times, including a hit to the face, saw Brandon hit the ground too, kind of like a movie, he told me to keep moving. Under the mud was rocks, I have swollen knees. I ate mud, and couldn’t see, the announcer told me I “could get up now” I’d made it through, to find my boys had all left me behind. Coughed up mud, as I struggled across the finish line, given my head band, then had to sit and rinse out my eyes with a bottle of water. My hands got dirty.
Alex: I got lucky!
At the end we were handed a beer, and told to go through the rinser, quite literally. It was a satisfying day.
It was cold!! Wished I’d stayed muddy.
In the aftermath, it turns out I’d rather have the pain of a 50 miler than the pain of all the scratches and bruises I obtained. Dan and I are both really proud of our team mates for running the furthest they’ve ever done. And I’ve already declared that I’m not doing the Tough Mudder again, please someone remind of this, especially if I’ve had wine.
Instead of dealing with cleaning our shoes we donated. Apparently we weren’t the only ones overwhelmed at the idea of scrubbing shoes!
No medals at this event…HEADBANDS!!!!!