One year ago, I took a huge leap of faith in myself and my abilities, in an effort to prove to myself that I could accomplish something great, and I completed my very first obstacle race.
I find it very fitting that I marked my one year anniversary of obstacle racing by going back to the race that sparked a fire for this sport I have come to love so much. I returned to the race of origin, Tough Mudder.
Now if you ask anyone to name a popular obstacle race, there are a few races that they will most likely name. The big three in this wonderful world of mud racing are Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudder. These are the big daddies of obstacle racing, the likes of which all other races strive to become. So when it comes to a recap, there’s not a lot I can say about Tough Mudder that’s not already known.
Tough Mudder is a 12 mile mud run that rivals all other mud runs. It is not timed, it is built to encourage camaraderie and teamwork, and it is a whole lot of fun! The obstacles are well built and well placed, there is plenty of music as well as entertaining signs throughout the entire course, there are ample water stops (some offering bananas or energy supplements), and the course delivers what it promises, a challenge that you can’t find just anywhere. At at least one point during a Tough Mudder race, you WILL be forced to face a fear. Whether it be fear of electric shock, fear of heights, fear of falling, or just plain fear of failure, you will be forced to overcome a personal demon. You will be asked to bond as a team, both with your group as well as with all other runners that are with you. The experience in itself is one like none other.
Having been my second Tough Mudder, I wanted to compare my first experience to this most recent. And I must say, despite there being pros and cons to each, I truly loved them both!
My first Tough Mudder was amazing in the fact that it left me feeling invincible. I had never completed anything like this in my life, and I felt like I could conquer the world. My second Tough Mudder left me very satisfied with my progress, and after now experiencing many obstacle races, I feel like I HAVE conquered the world!
I liked the course and venue of last year’s TM much better. To begin with, traffic was a nightmare on the way in and out of the event this year, causing quite a damper on the overall excitement of the day. We arrived 40 minutes late for our wave, and instead of having time to warm up, get excited, take pictures, etc, we had to get out bibs, ditch our gear and go. I loved that the terrain of last year’s event was very swampy. I felt like TM used the elements of Florida against us, and made us (for lack of a better word) “trudge” through miles of swamp and mud. This year included much more running and dry ground. We got much less muddy! It was almost a bit disappointing, as I was expecting much more swamp and Florida elements to bog us down, but I attribute that to the difference in location and terrain that was given TM, and there’s not much they could have done to create the same effect as last year. Despite that, the obstacles were just as great, there were some new additions, and it was still a challenging course that made for an overall awesome experience!
There were the staple obstacles: Arctic Enema (a jump into bins full of ice and water, brr!), Hold Your Wood (carrying a wood plank or log), Mount Everest (the dreaded 1/4 pipe), Electroshock Therapy (a run through electrically charged wires), among many others.
Since the terrain of this year’s venue was far less swampy, TM improvised and added many “mud miles” which consisted of hills of dirt followed by descents into mud. They were slick, mucky, and a lot of fun!
My favorite highlights of this year’s TM were the fact that I completed Funky Monkey!! I am so thrilled by this! Last year I fell off of these dreaded monkey bars, I got a second try at similar bars at Savage Race a couple of months ago and fell, but yesterday… I completed them! I had a small celebration for myself as I triumphantly jumped into the platform on the opposite end of the obstacle. That made my day! I also did NOT get shocked at the electric eel! This obstacle is a barb wire crawl that has been intensified by hanging wires which are electrically charged; touch one and you get zapped! I was so nervous about this obstacle, but I made it shock free! Finally, the run that took me longer than 4 hours to complete last year, I completed in under 3 hours this year! AND I ran the entire race, only stopping to walk as we arrived at obstacles and water breaks! Not a bad improvement if I say so myself!
I felt strong through the entire run, I completed obstacles with ease, I had an amazing team that was a great support through obstacles such as the Berlin Walls and Mount Everest, and I am so happy to have celebrated my year anniversary of being an obstacle racer back at the run that started it all!
The after party was a lot of fun! The main stage, food area, and merchandise were all set up to be easily accessible and handle the crowds, and my team had a lot of fun at the end hanging out and watching Electroshock Therapy. It was fun to watch the anxiety of runners as they approached this final obstacle, and then celebrate with them as they crossed through and headed to the finish line!
Now I will say, that the response to the traffic situation was a bit disheartening. I have not yet seen Tough Mudder apologize, and it seemed as though they were trying to ignore the situation during the event. They have admitted publicly via social media that it was a problem, but did not include an apology from what I’ve seen. It does give an impression that those heading up TM are a bit more concerned about their pocket books than the consumer experience, but I’ll let final assumptions be up to each individual participant as to how they feel the situation was handled.
All in all, I’m very happy with my experience yesterday! I am thrilled with the improvement I see in myself (1+ hour time improvement and no sore muscles today, woo hoo!!), and I love being with other racers and sharing a great day in the mud! I’m happy to be a Tough Mudder, and I recommend that anyone on the fence about trying a Tough Mudder signs up and runs one. It’s a good challenge, very well organized, and a whole lot of fun.
I do want to say a huge THANK YOU to my team! You guys were awesome! It was great to meet you and I had a fantastic time running with you!
Until next time mudders! Peace out!