I DO NOT WHINE - KIDS WHINE
As I write this I'm feeling a little stiff and covered in a couple of colourful bruises, I know it isn't Wednesday yet, but couldn't wait to share this post! Last weekend (Saturday 29th July 2017) I completed my second Tough Mudder! For those of you who don't know it is an obstacle course that is usually between 11 and 13 miles, and consists of around 25 obstacles to overcome along the way. It's muddy, it's dirty, it's wet but most importantly it's ace! This isn't a race though it's about teamwork, you make friends along the way, share falls and laughs with other mudders, and in general have an epic experience (well I do anyway).
After booking my ticket last November I couldn't wait to get stuck in! I didn't realise how excited I was until I got to the course. I tackled it this year with my mate Connor. We arrived a little before half 10 with our tickets, ID, signed 'DEATH' waivers and start times in hand. The check in process is pretty straight forward once everything is in order you get a couple of wristbands*, a mudder number to pin to your shirt as well as a matching number for your bags. You can drop bags off for a £3 fee into the safe hands of the on site volunteers, or if you bring along family/ friends to watch as spectators then they can just keep hold of them for you. The band numbers helps you to locate your bag later and ensures no one else can collect it.
* Our wristbands included your mudder number, one for you and one for your bag so you can collect them afterwards from the bag drop. A new addition this year was a patterned one that related to your start time as they were enforcing this. Finally, we got a 'Mudder Legionnaire' one as it wasn't our first time at Tough Mudder. I think the last one is so you get the correct coloured headband at the end.
Ready to get started we headed towards the warm up zone (we were a little behind schedule so we had to wait in line, after just narrowly missing our official start time). Before we knew it we were dancing about, thrusting, hip shaking and 'Hoo-rah' -ing towards the starting line. On bended knee, we all recited the 'Tough Mudder' pledge and after an Eye of the Tiger countdown, we were off!
The course this time was in Yorkshire, up near Skipton, (last year we had chosen to do the North West one which is at Cholmondeley Castle) it was much more hilly that the North West course, which probably explained why they shaved a mile or two off for this one. It's recommended that you do have a good level of fitness, (I've upped my game since taking part in these kinds of events) some of the obstacles you definitely need it for and what better motivation to get into shape. However, it's not just physical it's about mental endurance too, there are things that test you and what you think you're able to do. I get a little nervous and excited for different obstacles, it's only natural but here's a little rundown of some things you can expect around the course.
I UNDERSTAND THAT TOUGH MUDDER IS NOT A RACE BUT A CHALLENGE
Now it is pretty easy to give you a rundown of the obstacles I found the most enjoyable, but the whole experience is brilliant. If you don't like heights you won't enjoy KONG or perhaps if you aren't keen on small spaces then I'd avoid SNOT ROCKET. Here are my favourite ones from this years event!
KONG - This one's more of a reward as it's only for people who have taken part in Tough Mudder before. Just before the very end of the course you head to an extra obstacle. Here you receive your special headband for whatever number TM event this is for you. After being rewarded with our GREEN 2X headbands, we climbed up some scaffolding to a platform. In front you is a line of gymnastic rings dangling over a large inflatable to cushion your fall. The aim is simple get to the other side! I completed this no problem although I'd have happily fallen as that did look like fun too!
BLOCK NESS MONSTER - I loved this one last year too! Its basically a large swimming pool with rotating blocks that run the width of the pool. You grab the edge and people push and pull to rotate each of the massive square logs. Then as it turns, you should swivel round and hold the edge to help pull down the other side and get the next lot of people successfully over. It's a laugh and just one example of working with your fellow mudders.
AUGUSTUS GLOOP / SNOT ROCKET - This one was brand new this year and if you've seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you will get the reference! Basically you slide into a pool of muddy water, then swim under a panel into a wooden box covered in mesh wiring. Next you duck into a black tube like pipe with a perspex window facing towards your fellow mudders. Inside the tubes there is water pouring in from above and you have to use the perspex ladders inside to climb up and out. Seriously it's so funny, I imagine I pulled some interesting faces whilst in that tube.
MUD MILE - People pay a lot of money for a good mud bath, well thats basically what this is. You climb over multiple mounds of slippy clay like mud. Piled up higher and higher, then slide down the other side into a bath like pool of the stuff. Its dirty fun and there's always another runner willing to give you a leg up where you need it.
PYRAMID SCHEME - Another great example of teamwork is the pyramid scheme, a white diagonal wall that tilts upwards. On this mudders take it in turns to lie against the white plastic panelling and climb on top of each other. Creating a sort of human ladder and helping to push fellow mudders up to the top. As you clamber over each other once at the top it is only fair to turn around and provide a helping hand out to those behind you. Return the favour, if a mudder helps you, then make sure you help another mudder. It's part of the experience.
I OVERCOME ALL FEARS
Like I said, there are some obstacles that people won't like but the challenge is to face them anyway. Here are a couple that I always feel a little intimidated by.
ARTIC ENEMA - Basically a skip filled with ICE, and I mean ICE cold water, seriously actual ice cubes! You slide in and are submerged in the water which takes your breath away. Once you surface there are mudder volunteers urging you to keep moving (for your own safety this is important) you don't want to stay still for too long. Once you get your bearings back, quickly swim under and climb out the other side. Then start running, before you know it you'll be feeling pretty refreshed but mostly back to a normal body temperature.
ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY - This was once described to me as feeling like 'sonic punches', I have to admit that it was a spot on description. The very last obstacle consists of a large extra muddy patch, with wooden scaffolding framing the mud above. Here is where lots of individually charged copper coloured wires dangle down. Run through it is my advice, you see people faceplant in the mud because it's quite a shock to the system when one catches you. I lost my shoe this time it got stuck as I was sprinting to the other side, and I wasn't willing to brave it again to retrieve it. Crossing the finish line in just one shoe and one sock is something I won't forget.
EVEREST - Last year I wasn't able to tackle this one, because it was near the end and I was too exhausted. This year I conquered it! It's basically a skate ramp/ half pipe structure that you have to run at full speed and reach for the top ledge. Luckily you can rely on your fellow mudders again here to assist you they'll pull you up if you can get most of the way. It's pretty daunting when stood at the bottom but you just need to push forward without looking back. Give it all you got, you'll surprise yourself.
FUNKY MONKEY - This year I have been working on my upper body strength, as I couldn't do a pull up just a few months ago. These are difficult monkey bars, the first stretch heads up on an incline, before hitting a more ninja warrior style second half. This part consists of valve like bars to hold on to that shift and rotate. I made it halfway which was an improvement on last year when I fell from the first monkey bar. Next year my goal is to make it all the way across.
HERO CARRY - This is a simple one but it's basically a piggy back, you and a team mate take it in turns to carry each other. Halfway you switch and it's just quite a funny sight to see girls carrying guys much bigger than they are, people underestimate the trust needed for things like this. Despite how it doesn't sound like much of a challenge it's more about the teamwork aspect again. People who do it solo, or those in odd numbers find strangers on the course to help them out and I really love that about it.
Along the way a few other mentionable ones are SKIDMARKED and the HERO WALLS, basically just big wooden walls propped up at different angles that you may need a push up to get over. In the HOLD YOUR WOOD one we got another two lads to help us carry (what I would say was basically a tree trunk) a large log over some walls and navigate it round a small obstacle course working as a team. Another new addition as last year we carried individually logs.
Then there are the GORILLA and CLIFFHANGER parts, these are often steep inclines to navigate round and over, its funny as you find lots of mudders fall on their bums (I know I did once or twice). The CREEK CRUSADES are not good if you don't like getting your feet wet! There are Hay bales to overcome, pipes to crawl through, something called the REBIRTH ... there's definitely something for everyone.
The best way to find out is to sign up yourself and see what it's all about. Trust me looking at pictures of the obstacles on the website doesn't quite come close to actually facing them on the course.
I HELP MY FELLOW MUDDERS COMPLETE THE COURSE
Tough Mudder is all about working with others, it's not in any way a selfish event and that's what I love about it! It's such a great way to meet people and really helps push you out of your comfort zone, which we all need sometimes. You celebrate together and when we spend most of our time on our phones or laptops, trying to avoid human interactions, it's important things like this are still going strong.
Currently, I'm waiting for the official course photos to go up on Friday and I will hopefully find a few entertaining shots to share with you all! (I will share this post again when I add the extra TM course photos). Until then we managed to get a few good pictures of us before and after with our hard earned headbands and bottles of cider. I'm definitely signing up again for next year and would even love to do the North West one in just six weeks time if I can scrape enough funds together for the ticket! I'm setting myself the challenge of doing it twice next year and thinking about raising some money in the process. I hope you all enjoyed reading some first hand experience and maybe will even consider signing up yourselves.
In the words of Christina Aguilera 'wanna get dirrty'.
🍑 A B Y
Aby, 24. Northerner.