Tough Mudder- Atlanta 2015

Prologue:

5:25 AM, Atlanta – What the hell? Was I drunk last night?! This race bag looks like it was packed by an amateur! No change of clothes, no trash bag, no packets of GU.

6:45 AM, Fairburn – “Take a right” she said. “You have arrived at your destination” she said. “Oh yeah Google Gail? Then where in the hell am I, and why do I not see one flippin’ Tough Mudder sign?!”

6:46 AM, Fairburn (I think) – I see a sign that reads “Purple Spectator Route.” Confusion permeates the car like my friend’s fart from 10 minutes ago. Stopping in the middle of this gravel road seems the best course of action. I take a pull from my delicious smoothie (I would like to thank TretschStretch Smoothies for giving me the fuel I need to race at peak performance.) and ponder our predicament.

6:47 AM, Random gravel road – I turn around, go a few yards and turn into a gravel drive and pull up to two barns. A mystery man appears from nowhere. “You here for that Tough Mudder?” “You bet your sweet ass orange headband we are!” “Go back down that road, veer right at the next fork. You’ll see it”

6:49 AM, Random gravel road – We are on the right track! I see Funky Monkey through the trees!

6:50 AM, Fairburn – Pull into a spot in a grassy field. We have not gone through the official parking entry. We are completely on the DL, but alas, it does not matter; I paid for parking online.

6:58 AM, Forever Fields – Will we ever get to Mudder Village? It’s cold. I fear we did not bring enough supplies for the journey.

7:01 AM, Endless gravel road – All hope is lost. We must now ration our dwindling resources. I take smaller sips of my prerace 20oz. of Dunkin’ Donuts magic elixir (Tretsch runs on Dunkin’).

7:03 AM, Endless gravel road – We make out the faint outlines of tents on the next rise. Glory! The end, or the beginning really, is in sight.

7:24 AM, Mudder Village – Starting to herd the cats, I mean team members, as they trickle in. It’s cold but the sun is fast rising from its slumber. It’s going to be a spectacular day. Time for a warm up jog.

7:45 AM, Mudder Village – Bag check separates me from my money. I get to place it in a horse stall myself. This will prove to be a prescient move.

7:53 AM, Mudder Village – As we head to the starting line, we run into two late arriving teammates. They have to bail on starting with us as they will not be ready in time. I am extremely bummed as I was looking forward to these two knuckleheads joining us for much merriment.

7:55 AM, Starting line area – 8:00 am wave has been closed. Shit! Can’t complain though, it’s not the one any of us were assigned to anyways. We are a team of bandits, so we gladly enter the warm-up zone for the 8:15 wave. We are still missing two teammates. In no time we are invited to enter the starting corral. I’m pretty excited. My FIRST Tough Mudder!

Observations on the run:

1. This M.C. is hilarious. His banter is a welcome change from the last two Saturdays of serious chest thumping, blood pumping rah-rah. Hey, our missing teammates, and they have brought a friend! We are now 6 scruffy men and 3 refined ladies.

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2. The surrounding rolling fields are beautiful. Look at all those fucking hills………..
3. We immediately get all up into these rolling fields and my legs let me know they are not happy about being abused for a fourth week in a row. Power walking the hills are the rule of the day.
4. We cross over what looks to be a fun subterranean crawling obstacle.
5. Kiss of mud starts things off with an easy barbed wire crawl. That first layer of filth going on smoother than a mineral mud body wrap at Spa Sydell.
6. Look at that glorious lake! Picture perfect with the early morning sun highlighting the mist coming off the surface of the water. OOOO! Look at that tree fall going into the lake! Can we climb it?
7. Pitfall is where the mirth starts as I lead the team into a watery, muddy pit and immediately drop waist high into a hidden hole. This obstacle is perfectly named. I can hear the laughter of my teammates behind me. It’s gonna be a good day. I’m grinning like a jackass eating cactus as I exit at the opposite end.

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8. The bucolic setting is invigorating as we continue running along the lake on a flat gravel road. Images of genteel afternoons spent in Burberry tweed whilst pursuing the equine arts trot through my mind.
9. Hey look there’s Balls Out! 8 foot+ A-frames with thick ropes, spaced 4+ feet apart, and hanging from the top; this is a variation on last week’s tip of the spear. I stay low to get as much rope as possible to run to the next rope. I wish the A-frames had been longer.

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10. The first hydration station appears up ahead. Never have I seen such huge coolers. Multi-spigoted monsters sitting on spindly steel legs; the stuff of nightmares for any football coach. We get our cups and go to the “trough”, I get some water and then decide to try the electrolyte drink. Fucking nasty doesn’t even scratch the adjective surface in describing this blue liquid. It seems like some fearsome combination of pedialyte, the horrific Robitussin from my youth, and the milking of Satan’s anal glands.
11. Hey look a dumpster! Bonus obstacle. The volunteers yell at me, my teammates laugh.
12. Into the woods we go. Time for some trail running! UGH! And hills!
13. Warrior Carry appears in the middle of nowhere. We are an even number of men, but an odd number of women. And then just like that a lone female, mysterious in her old school aviators, happens upon us just at the right time. We assimilate her like the Borg. Any animals still around are surely scared off by our general foolishness and horsefuckery, all at maximum decibels. All manner of carrying styles are employed.

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14. We come out of the woods after a beautiful but hilly and long trail run into an open field with a substantial hill leading us to Mystery?
15. It is a mystery. It’s a mystery as to why they didn’t put water into these pits dug into the ground. It’s a mystery why they didn’t make them wider. It’s a mystery why they bothered hauling a huge ass water tank up that hill.
16. More running. More beautiful surroundings. And then off in the distance, the faint sound of a bell. YES! King of the Swingers was nigh! THE obstacle I had been waiting for after watching stupid numbers of hours of TM YouTube videos! The team was very excited.
17. It is ginormous. A wonderful bricolage of wood, scaffolding, steel and plastic sheeting. I quickly climbed up to the platform 12’ (?) up. Holy crap the tiny little handle bar at the end of the swing bar looks even tinier in person and it’s WAY further away than it looks in the videos. There will be no leaning over and grabbing it; this is a full-on-you-gotta-commit kind of jump. Why do I hear calliope music in my head? Enough standing around…JUMP! Grip is good! Swinging….wheeeee! Release! Go for the bell! Now, here is where I messed up. I swing at that bell as if I’m Hakeem Olajuwon swatting the very soul out of John Starks. So as the bell makes the pretty, tinkling sound of success, I’m tumbling toward the water in my best imitation of a rag doll thrown by a petulant toddler. I hit the water with an impressive smack, taking almost the full brunt with my bald-headed giggle stick. The frog-lady in the water looks at me with concern. I think it was concern. Who can really tell given the goggles and the regulator? Fear not lady, I am quite used to the many ways I can inconvenience my wife’s best friend during an OCR.

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18. HOLY SHIT! That was awesome. I need to do that again!!!
19. There is cheering and support for other members of the team and then it’s off for a second swing. The bell went ‘ding-dong’ again without the dong being dinged.
20. I go off course and run downhill through the wild flowers, flapping my arms and acting the fool. Life is grand.
21. The second hydration station offers up gummies. Yum! I feel guilty, as if I’ve raided Lil’ B’s stash of princess fruit snacks; they are delicious. Then I remember sage words of advice I once read from more seasoned OCR runners; “don’t try anything new on race day”. OOPS! We’ll see how these little gelatinous morsels of modern chemistry affect me. I avoid the blue piss of Beezzlebub.
22. The team continues to remark how beautiful the surroundings are. “Still doesn’t make the fucking hills any flatter”, I mutter.
23. The damn bars on Funky Monkey (…..2.0 even) are small. I’m talking old school, 1970s era playground small. I HATE small diameter bars. You engage your thumbs the bars can tear your hands apart, hook them with just your fingers and you always have a chance of slipping. The trapeze thingy and the bars make for a cool variation. I stay dry today. It’s a great atmosphere at this obstacle and we are cheering on our ladies to be the first females of the day to get across. The grit they showed was tremendous, they hung in there like a hair in a biscuit. But alas, it was not meant to be. Next race!
24. Back into the open meadows and oh joy………more hills.
25. One of our young, OCR newbie teammates (exactly why in the hell are we letting two 18 year olds set the pace wonder the grey powers of the group?!…..) standing at the holes of Mineshafted asks, “Do I go in feet first?” “No! Head first!” was the resounding answer from the more seasoned (weathered, aged, well worn, grizzled, wizened….) members of the team. Sliding downwards you really feel like you are going deep underground. We pop out into a deep pit with a small but slippery slant wall. There’s just enough room to get a good two step run up to it.
26. As we drop down into the wide open spaces of the main meadow, we can see Everest up on the hill to our right. We should be there in no time……
27. Toilets and bananas; these water stations are no joke! It’s no use. I can’t fight the need. I’m worried about my calves. I must drink the blue bile of Nosferatu. I do a 50-50 mix with H2O.
28. I crouch down low to ease myself into the Birth Canal. As there has been no mud or water for quite some time, I feel inadequately lubricated. I plunge inward on hands and knees with ease. This ain’t so bad at all! And then WHAM……the inescapable reality of Hydrodynamics comes crushing down on my neck and shoulders, and I narrowly avoid planting my proboscis in the pampas. I had merely been pushing the water forward and when it could go no further it stacked up and squashed me. The last few feet I become one with the grass.
29. There is much laughter as the team makes all manner of indelicate comments regarding birth. We have no class.
30. The problem with open field running is you can see how fucking far you have to go.
31. My knees are starting to ache with the previous 3 weeks of competition still fresh in the muscle memory banks.
32. As we stare down into the pits of Mud Mile 2.0, I think we all had a collective “oh crap!” moment. These monsters were deep! “She puts the lotion into the basket” kind of deep. And there were 4 of them. Unless you punked out and went to the edges (and even that looked sketchy) there was no way you were getting out of those pits alone unless you had:
a. A jetpack. I left mine at home
b. Toe picks and a grappling hook
c. Strange mutant powers of the levitating/flying kind
d. A small dog for a hostage
33. The water was deep and the squelchy muddy bottom was constantly sucking at your feet. The pit walls were sheer cliffs. The dirt mounds offering nothing but handfuls of loose soil. Between the heaving and ho’ing, there was more ass grabbing then at a Tailhook convention. The air was filled with the sound of people having serious amounts of fun despite the serious amounts of effort being expended. We finish and one our teammates says, “Look we get to do it again on the way back!”
34. Back into the woods and it’s a slippery, muddy muckfest of a trail. I start to twitch as my memorabrarian (you know…..your memory librarian) goes and retrieves the Savage Race and Battlefrog replay reels. At least it’s flat. My hips and knees tell me to fuck off.
35. Beached Whale seemed to be underinflated as everyone gravitated towards the center and we became a scrum of bodies just trying to get to the other side. The fine mud grit between body and vinyl doing exfoliating wonders on exposed skin.
36. At mile marker 6 I looked at my watch and it said 7.5 miles. This kind of discrepancy had been the case for many miles. Clearly Tough Mudder miles are longer than mere normal human miles. My legs cried “but HOW will we know WHEN it will end?!?!”
37. The Berlin Walls were tall. Escape from New York kind of tall. The tallest of any race I have done. Even using the slippery 2x a couple of feet up with a weird step hop move, I barely got fingers over the greasy top. Myself and a couple of teammates camp out on top of the wall and help hoist people up, legs and ass going all over the place, while one of our other gentlemen helps from below. Ahem!

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38. For the next million miles it’s a slog of nasty mud; slicker than a harpooned hippo on a banana tree. My knees really are starting to hate me.
39. We stop at a water station after climbing the world’s tallest mound of mulch. A volunteer is greeting us with high fives and boundless enthusiasm. I’m now at a 3:4 ratio of Vulcan piss to water. Fifty yards away we can see the second loop of Mud Mile 2.0
40. MM2.0 second round is even worse than the first time. We hump it through with as much grace as a herd of water buffalo on rollerblades.
41. The running is flat but tiring through the thick grass.
42. I vowed not to do Cry Baby because of the multiple surgeries I have had on my left eye and not wanting to do anything to my remaining good eye. Besides, like Electroshocking, it’s just a stupid obstacle. Nonetheless I cheer on my teammates as they enter the toxic box and then pop out the other end, blue mentholated smoke trailing behind them. They all reek of Vick’s vapor rub 2.0 as we continue our adventure.
43. More open field running. More hills. It never ends.
44. The young’uns are kind enough to keep us in sight.
45. We make our way along the front side of Mudder Village and the Mini Mudder course until we arrive at Arctic Enema 2.0. All ice water obstacles are fucking cold. It’s just a cold hard (see what I did there) fact of Thermodynamics. But after the first time, any subsequent races are just varying degrees of cold and no need for panic (remember; slow, controlled breathing). Now, when you have to slide down a ramp under a chain link fence that disappears into the murky water to unknown depths, THAT’s a whole different story. One teammate and I are sitting at the top of the ramp and I’m thinking this icy mess has the color of the world’s largest skinny-half-caff iced-mocha-latte. Anything to keep my mind off the impending underwater negotiation around the leading edge of the fence. “3..2..1, go!” the slide is slick and fast, and we are in, under and out from the fence quicker than green grass through a goose. Peripheral vasoconstriction starts quickly, but testicular retraction is instantaneous as I bid my betty swollocks a fond farewell for a few hours. We climb over (there are those RDs in the OCR world that would have had us going underwater again TM. Just sayin’…) the middle barrier and make a quiet and dignified exit. We catch up to the vanguard of our team doing jumping jacks while they wait for us.

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46. People walking up the main access road enjoy the spectacle of tired cold wet runners before we disappear around the corner. “You’ll get yours soon enough…”
47. I’m chugging Smurf sewage like it’s Cristal. I no longer bother cutting it.
48. The water station is in the shadow of a spectacular barn; five star accommodations for the well-heeled horse. A huge earthen cliff, the remnants of the construction process is our next obstacle; Cliffhanger.
49. We run up a dirt ramp so that we can rappel down a 12 foot+ cliff. The rope is a monster and weighs a ton. This is some sketchy shit right here. We circle around and then climb a 30 foot face covered in cargo netting. “This is going to scare the fuck out of some people”, I muse.
50. More beautiful trail running. More fucking hills. I’m getting a hitch in my stride.
51. Bear crawling at The Liberator (This name makes absolutely no sense. Fire that intern TM!) works well and raised the net up sufficiently to help those behind me. A teammate slams her knee into an unmarked stump (Where’s the orange paint TM?) while crawling.
52. More running.
53. Will it ever end?!
54. We skirt along the backside of Mudder Village before dropping back into the trees. We are close!
55. THAT is the tallest inverted wall I have ever seen at any race! Skidmarked? What the hell does that have to do with anything?! It is a BIG leap just to get to the lip. Thankfully the lip is dry. Our team is alone at this obstacle, so we make short work of it with generous amounts of lifting and pushing. Some tires and a large corporate logo on the backside clears up the name confusion. Still makes no sense.
56. The location is ridiculously idyllic. There is a perfect little lake with a perfect little dock, just begging for cannonballs. I would drown at this point.
57. We round the corner and see Funky Monkey. We have done a monstrous figure-eight. A compulsory figure writ large over miles of woods, meadows, and mud.
58. What is this?! A teammate drops into a small creek along the roadside and immediately sinks up to his chest. It is the grossest, nastiest stretch of water in the history of OCR. I don’t even know what to call this fucking mess of mud, leaves, grass and god knows what else. At one point I literally felt I was going to disappear below the surface; sucked down by the mysterious muck below. One teammate doggie paddles across. She had the right idea.
59. We arrive at Everest covered in quickly drying black goo. The sun was shining and the end was near, and that HAD to have been the last hill or I was gonna fucking lose it. We take stock of the ¼ pipe that is Everest. It didn’t look that tall, though it did have an unusually large rounded lip. I take first crack at it. Run! Launch! Good height! Reach for the back of the lip and……….BUBKISS. The back of the lip had to be at least a foot beyond where my hands were now grasping for nothing but smooth plastic. My slide back to terra firma is quite elegant. I finally exhibit a bit of grace for the day. Second time’s the charm though. With two other teammates at the top we get everyone over the lip, and then help out a few more. It occurs to me what bravery and trust it takes to run up that beast and just jump towards outstretched hands hoping you will be caught.
60. Everest allows for a commanding view of the rolling hills and Mudder Village. It’s all downhill from here baby!
61. I promised my wife I would not do Electroshock, and I wasn’t going to do it anyways. It’s a stupid fucking obstacle with no physicality to it and nothing but downsides health wise. Luckily Deadringer was a Legionnaire’s option for bypassing electroshock. So, I bandit it. I was dying to try it. Some teammates joined me, others went the 10k volt route. “Hey, is that a BAR over there. I’m thirsty!” It was weird at first using the rings, but I eventually got into a rhythm. An Elaine Benes kind of rhythm, but a rhythm nonetheless and I made it across.

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62. We all convened at the exit of both obstacles and confirmed we would all be crossing the finish line together. Some were feeling the sting of electricity and some were lucky to have emerged unscathed.
63. We ran eight abreast through the barn, cheering ourselves, as we approached the finish line.
64. And then it was done. I am tired.
65. That was FUN!! I am no longer a Tough Mudder virgin! However, 11.81 miles in 3:11:34 a week after a brutal Battlefrog made it more like an uncomfortable romp in the backseat of a subcompact versus sweet love on a rose petal covered bear skin rug in front of a roaring fireplace at a ski chalet. Nonetheless as a team event it was a blast. I cannot speak to previous Tough Mudders, but Tretsch says DO it.

POSTSCRIPT

11:26 AM, Mudder Village – I just went through a gauntlet of swag. Towels, T-shirts, protein bars, supplement stuff, and beef jerky. I tear into the beef jerky package ravenous with hunger. Now I know what pairs perfectly with Satan’s blue ball sweat. Luckily a trash can is close by to spit this nastiness out.

11:30 AM, Mudder Village – I go to the bag check to retrieve my gear, while the others go check out Fire in your hole….I mean Ring of Fire and the hamster wheel thingy. The volunteer at the table shakes my hand and congratulates me on a job well done. All the volunteers today have been top drawer.

11:40 AM Mudder Village – I reluctantly get my beer. Am I the only one who hates Shocktop? Two races in a row with this crap. First world problems. The staff at the beer tent are just a wonderment of friendliness and service. The beer sucks, but their employees are aces!

11:45 AM Mudder Village – I’m whoopin’ it up watching some of my teammates attempt Satan’s bunghole……I mean Ring of Fire. I do not partake. I am not a Legionnaire and I am too much of a cheapass to pay for it. The action photo provided is a nice touch though.

Noonish, Mudder Village – The two young’uns appear, one has both her palms completely wrapped in gauze; the hamster wheel thingy has claimed another victim. We continue yucking it up and taking pictures, and then team members start to peel off.

12:45 PM, Mudder Showers – As I stand there on the hill, soaking up the sun, rinsed off as much as one can be with an old school spray nozzle, I reflect on the choices I made to get to a sport where I can stand amongst a crowd in nothing but my blue and black striped Voltron boxer briefs, and no one gives a rat’s ass.

12:47 PM, Mudder Showers – I meet one of my teammates coming out of the Legionnaire shower trailer (warm shower facilities?! There really is no other reason needed to run another TM), and we chat as I walk towards the changing tent. “Oh my gosh, I almost walked in there with you!” she says. “Ha, nothing to see but small shriveled [index finger and thumb a couple of inches apart]……..” I say loudly.

12:47:05, Changing Tent – 12 men turn around simultaneously as I walk in. Not a fucking sound. Outer space is noisier. Then they all bust out laughing……..

1:05 PM, Endless Gravel Road – The long trek back to the car is easier than in the morning. There is sun on my shoulders, story telling, and endless people watching.

*Photos By: Tough Mudder

 


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Tough Mudder Michigan- No Virus, No Problem!

No Norovirus? No problem! The wildly contagious virus that plagued several hundred Tough Mudder Michigan participants in 2013 did not repeat its performance in 2014.

The Michigan Department of Public Health determined that in 2013 an already sick participant in an early Saturday wave contaminated a mud or water obstacle. This led to the virus outbreak that infected hundreds who participated at the event held at the Michigan International Speedway (MIS).

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Noro did not return to MIS in 2014, but on September 20, Tough Mudder did and sent a reported 26,000 through its familiar challenge of climbs, crawls, slides, and jumps. The 12 mile course wrapped through the 1,400 acre grounds surrounding the “fastest track in NASCAR” located in the scenic Irish Hills area of southeastern Michigan.

The MIS parking lot is equipped to handle tailgating crowds of well over 100,000, so parking at this venue was no problem. The lot was well paved, well-marked, relatively close to the festival area (no shuttles were required), and was easy to exit.

As with most Tough Mudder events, the registration process was smooth, with plenty of well-organized volunteers quickly moving participants through the process.

The race was run mostly on grass over small, but persistent, rolling hills. At times the course wound onto paths through wooded areas, but was primarily out in the open, within view of the gigantic grandstands of MIS.

The 2014 edition of TM Michigan was tougher than 2013, according to second time participant Geoff Roether, a 44 year old from Minneapolis, MN, who traveled to Michigan to race with a group of buddies organized by Michigan resident Mark Simmer.

“We ran for a mile or more before we got to the first obstacle this year,” Roether said. “The Hold Your Wood log carry was longer, the mud hills of the Mud Mile were more slippery with fewer footholds.”

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Roether also mentioned that several new obstacles were more challenging than previous versions, including Pyramid Scheme — a favorite obstacle among his group of friends.

Pyramid Scheme is a quarter-pipe wall type obstacle. Other quarter-pipe obstacles (including Tough Mudder’s own Everest) leave plenty of room in front so participants can get a running start to scale the wall. Others (including Savage Race’s Colossus and Battlefrog’s Tsunami) have ropes hanging down to help participants scale the wall. Pyramid Scheme has neither. A deep, water filled trench lines the approach to the obstacle, preventing a running start and there are no ropes to help.

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To scale this obstacle, racers are forced to work together, stacking themselves in a human pyramid to help each other climb to the top.

“That was my favorite part of the race – the camaraderie. Helping and being helped by teammates and total strangers,” said Dave Navetta, who traveled from Denver, CO, to join Simmer’s group.

“The team aspect of it made it fun,” adds Mark Seward, from New York City. “Tough Mudder should have more team-oriented obstacles.”

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“The Michigan event was better than Tough Mudder Chicago,” said Dave Stannard, who lives in suburban Chicago, “It was tougher, longer and I loved the legionnaire obstacle – Fire in the Hole.”

Fire in the Hole is a water slide through honest to goodness flames, one of several obstacles on the Legionnaire’s Loop, a small section of the course open only to repeat Mudder participants. The slide is legitimately fast and the flames legitimately hot. Very exciting and very fun.

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“The Monkey Bars (Funky Monkey) seemed easier this year and Artic Enema wasn’t as cold,” said Roether. “And the drinking water on the course was nasty brown.” The nasty brown drinking water is something Tough Mudder HQ should look into.

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Another change from last year was the safety improvements of Walk the Plank, the platform jump into a deep pool of water. The platform was noticeable lower, but the real change was the organization and the number of emergency rescue personnel.

Volunteers and staff closely monitored who was jumping and when they jumped. Five jumped at a time and a volunteer was responsible for each jumper. Every jumper was accounted for and cleared the water before the next round was released to jump. In addition, there was at least one water rescue diver in the water at all times and another rescuer on shore.

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Tough Mudder Michigan 2014 was another example of a solid entry in the Tough Mudder series. Although some may find that a few obstacles are easier than in the past, the series appears to be maturing with improved obstacle construction, safety measures, and other features to improve the experience for both participants and spectators.

*Photos By: Tough Mudder, J.D. Allen, and Debbie Dawson

Tough Mudder – New Jersey

photo 4 Decision time – head down to New Jersey to do Tough Mudder after an overnight wetsuit World’s Toughest Mudder training? Sure! How could I say no to this? So off I went to New Jersey for my second Tough Mudder, with two dear friends of mine, Josh Grant and Patrick Verrico.

Arrival & Parking
We arrived later than we expected, getting into the area around 9:30am. We hit the infamous Tough Mudder parking traffic. We didn’t park until after 10:15am, it felt like forever, silver lining – onsite parking. I met my Reload Fitnessteammate Stu Klaas, and we all picked up our bibs and headed to the start line. Stu and I were running the course together as Tough Mudder is untimed, and Stu upped the ante by wearing a 40lb weight vest. [Read more…]

Tough Mudder Review, Colorado

T100_3883he Tough Mudder claims to “probably be the toughest event on the planet.” Combine 12 or so miles, 20 obstacles, plenty of mud, ice-cold water, and wires carrying 10,000 volts of electricity and you get the general idea. Add treks up and down severe ski-slope inclines, high altitude, and fickle weather and you’ve got Colorado Tough Mudder.

One of the first things that quickly stands out is how well organized the event is.  Somehow the organizers were able to get over 12,000 racers, plus hundreds of spectators, parked, shuttled to base camp, checked-in, and on to the course.  Despite the large numbers of people, things kept moving as most of the obstacles had no waiting and the longest wait for an obstacle was about 5 minutes.

At base camp you can’t miss that this is an event, not just a race.  The atmosphere is charged with live music, vendors, face painters, food, and thousands of eager participants.  As you arrive near the starting chute line the starter can be heard delivering a message of hope, excitement, and pure mental will.

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Set in the picturesque Beaver Creek, Colorado, you’re immediately reminded that you’re at a ski resort when you scramble up the first of several steep inclines just to get to the starting chute, and the first mile quickly reminds you that you’re running somewhere between 9,000 and 11,000 feet in elevation when you just can’t seem to fill your lungs with enough air no matter how deeply and how often you gasp for breath.

The Colorado Tough Mudder is not a “runner’s” event for the majority.  Most start running but it isn’t long before the herds thin out.  There is no clock and while some are able to traverse the slopes at a good jogging pace, eventually most chose to put one foot in front of the other and are happy to just get up the mountain.  One multi-mudder participant said that other than the World’s Toughest Mudder, this course is the most difficult for him.

The first obstacle is aptly named Kiss the Mud. The menacing, criss-cross of barbed wire barely a foot off the ground ensures you’re not sneaking through this obstacle on your hands and knees, and the frequent fire-hose showers ensure you’re not getting through it without getting muddy. Head-down, face in the mud, body scraping through the gravely grit — that’s the only way through.

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Slow and steady works for Kiss the Mud but not for Electric Eel. “Stay Low and Go Fast,” signs advise. If you miss the tip, the shocks from electric wires hanging above you will make you a quick learner. It’s nearly impossible to get out of the Eel without feeling its electric bite as you scramble through the muddy water, and it’s this obstacle that makes first-time Mudders realize that this isn’t your typical mud run.

An expected obstacle with a slightly sadistic twist — that’s the fun of the Colorado Tough Mudder. Think it’s challenging pull yourself across monkey bar inclines and declines? The Funky Munky at the Mudder adds swiveling bars, which dump most mudders.  Some only make it a few rungs  in while others struggle to get a few rungs away, only to get dumped in the water in frustration.

Arctic Enema is a signature event of the Mudder. Fill a dumpster with ice-cold water and then keep dumping ice into it all day so that a fresh layer of cubes greets each Mudder. There’s a big difference between cold water and ice-cold water. Ice water bites hits and you like a block of wood. Just as your muscles seize in shock, you realize you must somehow convince yourself to fully submerge yourself under the wooden beam that stands between you and the only way out of the Arctic Enema.

Challenging yourself to put your body through unique mind-over-matter obstacles separates the Mudder from traditional races or runs. “This is a challenge, not a race” is the message you hear over and over. Beat the course. And what a course the Colorado Mudder is. The miles snake up and down wicked ski slopes. Sometimes you’re carrying another Mudder (Fallen Comrade Challenge) or a sizeable log (Hold Your Wood Obstacle), taxing the well-conditioned and beating down those who aren’t. The down-hill stretches, when they came,  were often so severely inclined that if you were hoping for a respite, you were sadly disappointed. Also, it is summer and temperatures are warm, yet giant piles of snow greet you to crawl over and slide down.

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The obstacles start big and stay big. Tough but not overwhelming. Challenging but not impossible, especially with the camaraderie the Mudder breeds. There always was a helping hand reaching down to pull you the last few feet up and over the wall.

After mile 10, you’ve really got to put your faith in random strangers to make it up Everest, a giant wall shaped like a half pipe. Start fast, build up speed, and leap to grab the outstretched hands of other Mudders who’ve made it to the top with the help of others and who repay the goodwill by reaching down to pull up the next.

Finally, you’re cold and wet, and about to run through hundreds of hot wires of the Electro-shock Therapy that you simply can’t elude no matter how much you suck in your gut. Like some of the other obstacles, you simply can’t train for this, but watching other Mudders teaches you one thing: don’t fall. The unexpected intensity of the zapping wires laid out many Mudders face-down in the mud. When they tried to get up, this simply offered more surface area for multiple, simultaneous points of electro shock. So, go fast and be ready for pain that fills your body with each loud popping charge.

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With the finish line in sight, thousands of spectators, live music, and a little extra juice in the system from the Electro-shock Therapy, the last 100 yards is truly a memorable experience. Most don their finish-line gear immediately; conquering a course like this one makes it seem perfectly appropriate to wear a bright orange headband for the rest of the day. Dozens of Mudders were still wearing them in their cars on the highway and at gas stations during the drive back to Denver.

Stories can be heard all over base camp about the race, the obstacles, and the many participants that helped and inspired throughout the Mudder.  But the hero of the day had to be a Mudder named Travis, war veteran and double leg amputee who conquered this course alongside The Wounded Warrior Project team.  He inspired thousands and cheers could be heard throughout the day as Travis and his team took on each obstacle and offered help to others.

It’s a challenge, not a race; it’s camaraderie, not individual glory. It’s the Colorado Tough Mudder, and it’s an event not to miss.

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Tragedy at Tough Mudder

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As the leading publication for the sport of OCR, we at Obstacle Racing Media are devastated by the tragedy that took place this past weekend at the Tough Mudder in West Virginia. While we are always aware of the risks associated with participating in theses events, loss of life is always something that stops us in our tracks and causes a heaping helping of personal introspection.

Please  know that the staff at Obstacle Racing Magazine is on top of this. We are actively investigating the circumstances around this young person’s death. We have spoken with several event witnesses and race participants, from around the country, as well as the local sheriff and law enforcement,  and will bring all of this to you.

Stay tuned and thank you,

Matt B. Davis, Editor
Christian Griffith, Digital

 

Tough Mudder Georgia Review

I certainly have had my experiences with Obstacle Course Races (OCR). And I would consider myself to be an active participant in the OCR community. I’ve completed 3 Spartan Sprints, (one of them I ran two laps), the Carolina Spartan Beast, Rogue Runner, Bad Ass Dash, Superhero Scramble with another lined up for April 27. The one event I have not participated in is a Tough Mudder. Not for any reason other than when the opportunity presented itself I wasn’t available to do so. This all changed when I signed up for the GA event April 6 & 7.

I have heard the horror stories of DC (cancelled day 2 for logistical reasons). Florida – 10 mile 4 hour traffic jam where participants were known to jump out of their car and jog a range of miles to make it for their heat. I was working in Vermont at the time for their second event. And had a chance to walk around the festival area and talk to some of the participants. Everyone had great things to say and from what I saw, the folks at Tough Mudder put on a world-class event. Below is my story of my experience as a first time Mudder.

We arrived on site Saturday afternoon and I immediately felt a few pre race jitters seeing Log Jam, Pirates Booty, and Everest while on our way to park. Upon Arrival we proceeded to walk around the festival area, this is one area TM puts on a great show. Music, giant turkey legs, Dos Equis beer and the continued camaraderie you can find the previous 10 miles of your adventure. We mingled, found a few friends checked out their merch tent and left to leave the rest for our Sunday start time.

Sunday morning was like any other race, bib pick up mingle with friends and head to the start line, certainly not before heading to the Bic tent to receive our Mohawk benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. Then, hopping over the starting wall to hear Start Line Sean commence the race.

Tough Mudder Start

Tough Mudder Start

Sean delivered powerful stories of previous mudders overcoming life’s obstacles and we took moment of silence for our military. What really moved me was standing there with a few hundred strangers singing the national anthem, an amazing experience to say the least. With that, we were off.

Tough Mudder had some great obstacles and certainly kept their usual ones in there as well, keeping in tact with their photo opportunity moments. Arctic Enema proved to be the freezing leap of faith it promises to be. Everest was another obstacle that seemed to live up its reputation. After witnessing numerous mudders jump with extended arms to be pulled by fellow runners I followed the advice of 3-time mudder Matt B. Davis. Run as fast and far as you can and jump at the last second. I practically jumped over the platform and continued gracefully down the other side.

Electric Eel was an obstacle I wasted no time getting through. I couldn’t understand why any one would try and do it slowly. I was hit, multiple times and it only made me want to move faster as did a few of the obstacles.

Another great addition to this year’s Tough Mudder event was a clear path for spectators. Nearly at every obstacle were hay bales for spectators, something I did not see at Vermont #2. This allowed many cheers from the crowd as we were completing everything TM threw at us.

Electroshock Fail

Electroshock Fail

In true TM fashion, Electro Shock Therapy was the final obstacle right before being crowned as a Tough Mudder. I have seen the horror of those getting shocked and immediately finding a face full of mud. As of Sunday April 7th I felt that horror. Matt told me don’t wait, just go. I went but I also went down, and when I tried to get back up I went down again.

There’s a certain process that rushes through ones brain lying face down in mud wondering, “How did I get here, but more importantly how do I get out.” Get up and keep going. That’s all I can say. It hurts but only for a second and the feeling of crossing that finish line and being crowned with their signature orange headband is beyond the pain you may have just felt.

I wouldn’t say the Tough Mudder by any means is a difficult obstacle course. You can always look around and find another mudder to help you out. Can’t complete an obstacle? No worries. Need help getting over a fear? Ask for it. Tough Mudder has truly built a brand of teamwork, a brand where finishing is more powerful than finishing fast. After all in your race packet is a wristband, a tag for your drop bag and a bib number. There is no timing chip but… “I understand the Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.”

 

Tough Mudder Finish

Tough Mudder Finish

Editor’s Note: It was great fun doing my 4th Mudder with a 1st Timer. It made for a really great experience. I also was impressed with the new obstacles Tough Mudder brought out this year. Just The Tip , Glory Blades, Cage Crawl, and the Wounded Warrior Carry were all fun and challenging. There was also a fire jump into 8-10 feet of water, which was awesome and something I had never seen before.