TM Long Island 2017 Review & Team Spotlight: MUDCRO!

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MUDCRO

Running a world renowned badass race with one of the most badass teams on the planet, Sons of Mudarchy, or MUDCRO, for my first Tough Mudder ever was truly a one of a kind experience. Damn it feels good to be a gangst..errrr I mean mud runna. They also happen to be one of Tough Mudder’s favorite teams and the feeling is mutual. “Bleed orange” is a motto that many members of the Sons of Mudarchy like to say, and of course that means, “Run a Tough Mudder! It’s not as scary as you may think, especially with a team!”

The Sons of Mudarchy (MUDCRO) was born out of the love of the TV series, “Sons of Anarchy.” Edward Buonocore who is better known as “Papa Smurf” due to his patient demeanor, positive attitude, and his wickedly awesome Poseidon beard. His right-hand man and 2nd in command Gene Johnson and Matt Blakely first wore, “The Reaper” at a Tough Mudder event in Western NY in July of 2014.

This is where the similarities to the show end. There is no gun running (say yes to fun running instead kids!), drug dealing, pimping, murdering, or any other sketchiness going on. I make it sound awful but it truly is a riveting show, but I digress. MUDCRO is just a great bunch of mud running hooligans that want to squeeze every drop of happiness that life has to offer with no regrets and no what ifs.

Their primary goal was to run OCR events and have as much fun as possible. Along with the fun never stopping, MUDCRO has continued to grow here in the United States with chapters in NJ, Texas, Arizona, and the Badlands of SD. They also have a global reach with chapters in the U.K., Australia, Denmark, Germany, and Spain. The Sons have raised money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, our military, and T1D. They say that when you join MUDCRO you’re not just joining a team, you’re becoming part of a family.

Their teamwork and love show not only on the courses they grace with their presence but off the course as well. MUDCRO hosts and takes part in many other charitable events all throughout the year as one big happy family. It’s not all about racing or being a badass, a wannabe badass, weekend warriors, fun runners, and whatever else you may think about MUDCRO.

MUDCRO truly is what they affectionately call a “framily.” A cute mix of friend + family. Can’t choose your family? Now you can with a ‘framily.’

“So what does MUDCRO have to do with Tough Mudder, besides running the races?”

HISTORY OF SONS OF MUDARCHY

S.O.M was started when a couple of guys were looking for an identity for a team. While the T.V. show, “Sons of Anarchy” gave them the look and the value of brother and sisterhood, Tough Mudder provided the format and the spark for MUDCRO. They like to keep the core values of teamwork, camaraderie and the “no one left behind” mentality. To always have fun, remember to thank your volunteers, and to remember at one time we were those people on the course needing help and encouragement!

I’m sure some of you reading this have been helped by a MUDCRO team member when they were volunteering or racing at an event. On the course MUDCRO will help anyone who needs it. I have seen, and been a part of, Papa Smurf and the rest of what I like to call his “dysfunctionally functional village” as we helped each other over obstacles, while shouting words of encouragement and gratitude to the volunteers who sat or stood in the hot baking sun for hours in order for this event to happen. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all of the obstacle course racing volunteers worldwide. These events would probably be triple the price or they wouldn’t happen at all without you bunch, and we love and appreciate you for it.

Since 2014 MUDCRO has grown across the US, Europe, and Australia with each chapter keeping to those strong core values that have many racers wanting to don “The Reaper” on the course as well.  The founders just can’t help but smile when they think about doing their first Tough Mudder, to where the group known as the Sons of Mudarchy/MUDCRO is today.

While there are many teams, they just want to be the “Best Team on the Planet” by putting their money where their mouths are, the same motto as the Tough Mudder volunteers. Without Tough Mudder there might not have been a MUDCRO and that’s a sad thought to this racer and fellow MUDCRO member. I’m very proud to call myself a member of MUDCRO because of these wonderful people. Before experiencing running with MUDCRO firsthand, my husband and I just wanted to run our own race, be lone wolves together (I don’t know how that works either) and make a few friends along the way.

What a difference a great team can make to the mud running experience however, and I can see why Tough Mudder is a good training ground for those wanting to branch out a bit from other races that they like the most, such as another well-known race with never ending death marches, heavy carries like orange buckets full of rocks instead of Orange Kool-Aid, and insane terrain.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case, Tough Mudder’s obstacle named “Pyramid Scheme” which is the infamous slip wall where you need a team or to have another team temporarily adopt you (it is totally possible to run Tough Mudder alone or with a smaller group) is where MUDCRO’s teamwork really shined. Let’s just say that if we were on the NBC Spartan show, we would have won the slip wall. The camaraderie everyone from those that were anchors to those that were grabbers went off without a hitch. Beautiful job team MUDCRO, and this is truly an amazing team building obstacle.

There were a few obstacles that were, “lone wolf friendly” but to truly experience a Tough Mudder, bring your friends. As a matter of fact bring your friends to all of your races… because if you’re fun-running, it’s much more fun with a team. A true team, not just drive there together and ditch them on the course. That’s no fun.

One of the scariest obstacles that day was Kong, coming at you with a 15 feet high drop if you failed, no teammate can help you here and with rings not being my strong point at all. Let’s just say that you do get the wind knocked out of you when you hit the giant air mattress below. Tough Mudder still has not replied to me regarding why it wasn’t placed over the traditional water pit, but I do believe it’s due to New York state or venue restrictions about digging too deep. It’s probably the same reason that one of their signature obstacles called, “King of the Swingers” wasn’t at the Long Island venue. Falling into a giant air mattress is no fun so I need to work more on rings.

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A few people did say to me that running the Long Island course is like a Tough Mudder lite. For those that are going, “How can a TM be lite? Looks pretty scary to me.”

Yes, there were definitely some scary obstacles such as Kong, or torture obstacles like Electro shock, but other than that you had your slip walls, 2 of them including Everest 2.0 which now has the fitness option of a rope, much like Savage race’s Colossus. I truly appreciated this because I am not good at running up slip walls unless it involves a rope. The thought of bashing my head into the lip of the wall isn’t really appealing, and having teammates push you up is not the same. That kind of defeats the purpose of the slip wall in my opinion, so the addition of the rope is a great touch.

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Speaking of fitness options, this is where Tough Mudder is great regarding obstacles. There are signs and lines for Tough Mudder Legionnaires at various obstacles, and a line for first timers where the obstacles were very challenging but nowhere as hard as the one on the Legionnaire line. No, you don’t have to be a Legionnaire to be in that line. They are just the same obstacle as the first timer side just modified to be harder. For example monkey bars instead of an inverted wall and then a climb up to a high platform on an obstacle called, “Reach around”.

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What is a Tough Mudder Legionnaire? It’s when you run 2 Tough Mudders within 1 calendar year. Click here for information on Tough Mudder’s Legionnaire program.
The Funky monkey may be one of the most fun and rewarding obstacles that I have seen outside of American Ninja warrior. Watching people beast this obstacle is so satisfying!

As for Arctic Enema, we went out at with a later wave so it was mercifully not ice cold because they do stop pouring ice in at a certain time or if they run out. So it was not bad at all. I’ll probably hate it when it’s full of ice because not only do you slide down a tube into some chilly ass water, you have a second to catch your breath before having to go under fencing where you are boxed in with no room to stand, and then finishing by going under a tire wall. I can definitely see why this would suck if it were colder.

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Electro Shock therapy. FUCK THAT SHIT, I skipped it big time and I regret nothing. Another popular race series that is known for being, “Navy SEAL tough” issued a statement on their page last year on why they do not use electrocution obstacles on a course. They stated, and I don’t quote verbatim that, “Electrocution obstacles serves no purpose aside from humiliation” and I agree with that sentiment.

As for Tough Mudder racers not caring if you skip an obstacle. Yes, they do care. Other Mudders will side-eye you (aka give you dirty looks) for skipping electro-shock therapy. Ask me if I give a shit though. Actually, don’t because you already know that answer. I walked by that obstacle like, “Yeah, go ahead and try and make me fuckers.” Bad attitude I know, but seriously fuck Electro Shock therapy.

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You see this? Yeah! FUCK THAT!

Let’s get to my personal favorite Tough Mudder Long Island obstacles.

The Blockness Monster. You’ve seen it in ads, pictures, and you’ve seen it on TV, yes it is as fun as it looks. No, you do not have to be a good swimmer to do this, the water is not that deep, 5 feet at the deepest point I believe the lifeguard said. Yes, I could stay in there all day.

The block itself is just that, a huge rectangular clock that forms an upside down V hump mimicking pics (real or fake) of good old Nessie the Lochness Monster. It’s like jumping onto a 4-foot platform, turning around and then grabbing the platform as you come down keeping a constant rotation of the block going. Some of the most fun was pulling the block down for people on the other side, and then try and get out of the way before they slid into you. Lots of fun, this one definitely lives up to the hype.

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Augustus Gloop aka the Snot rocket. This one is a lot of fun. Have you ever wanted to climb out of a sewer like a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle while water poured down on your head? Me neither, but this obstacle was surprisingly a really good time. There were two fitness options there so I took the first-timer one since it was my first Tough Mudder ever.

It’s a tall straight tube (about 15-20 feet up?) with a clear plastic window that is just there for lighting, you can’t see much with the water pouring down on your head anyway. You basically wedge yourself into the side of the tube and there were little side grips in which to pull yourself up and out with. I have no idea what the Legionnaire side was like. It probably was missing the side grip holes, please post in comments if you feel like schooling me on the Legionnaire side of Augustus Gloop.

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The heroes carry, I only liked this one because I hate heavy carries and I make no secret of this. As a matter of fact I, do believe I complain about heavy carries in every article, but with the encouragement of my MUDCRO teammate, I carried my 160-pound husband piggy back style with great success and ease. This is the only reason I am putting it at number 3 because I was afraid of not being able to find a partner that I could carry. The thought of dropping someone and potentially hurting them was definitely on the forefront of my mind, and not only overcoming this fear but finding out that I’m way stronger physically than I give myself credit for felt really good. People over buckets? Not up and down a ski slope though.

THE CONS

Hey you, an article with no bitching? Did Tough Mudder do that great of a job with everything? The answer is, “NO!”

Let’s start the bitching off lightly. They had plenty of port-o-potties on and off the course and yes, they were clean. There were water stations galore. The water stations were awesome, some even had sports drinks and water, others were just water, some were food and water like bananas and protein bars. People, including myself, were joking about how this race has more aid stations than they do obstacles.

I’m kinda annoyed with that. The long boring stretches of road and trail are boring, very boring. This is why you need a team as well, you want people to talk to in between what seemed like miles of no obstacles. Good thing there were actual trail snacks on the course.

Yes, Tough Mudder Long Island had legitimate trail snacks. Not the kind that comes in a bag with granolas and carob chips. There were wild berry bushes and peach trees dotted all along the course. Between the aid stations, the wild berries and the peaches… I think this might be the only race where I ingested more calories than I burned.

I think it was boredom eating though, because yes Tough Mudder your obstacles are awesome, but why are you so cheap with the amount of them on the course? What was it, 9 miles and 18 obstacles? That’s 1 obstacle every 1/2 mile. Seriously fellow runners, bring your friends or join a team if you are running Tough Mudder. I can’t recommend that enough. It helps with the no obstacle for miles blues. I almost wished for an orange bucket of rocks even with a team. Almost, I didn’t say I actually wanted one.

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Nothing for miles! This looks like a half assed death march to me.

Parking

Their parking situation was ridiculous according to my friend who took their shuttle. The parking lot for this event was a 20 minute ride down the highway, quite a few towns away from the event. So for this venue the lot is extremely far, it’s still $10+ to park, but the shuttles are plenty and they run regularly. Just get there earlier than planned for a long ride, and hope that your shuttle doesn’t hit NY leisure traffic.

Bag check is not secure. It’s walk in and walk out with your own bag situation. No kind volunteers and security staff members babysitting your bags and only allowing entry to authorized persons. Tough Mudder just lets you walk right in, and walk right out. Sure they check your bib number to the number on the bag, but nothing is stopping anybody from rifling through your bags while in a crowded tent with other racers and 2 people at the entrance and exit. They charge $10 for this! Weaksauce Tough Mudder, really weak. That’s easily fixable though with a more secure bag check program like the other brands.

On the brighter side, Tough Mudder does not serve race piss, aka Coors Light, anymore. It is now a Guinness Blonde, much to the delight of many racers.

Other than the miles of no obstacles, bag check being lax and expensive to boot, along with parking and shuttles being too far from the venue, the obstacles are definitely worth a try. Did I mention to bring a posse? Like these guys. They look like a lot of fun to run with too.

Photo credits: Louis Liquori, Poly Poli, Tough Mudder

Warrior Dash Indiana: Grabbing Life by the Horns

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The 2016 Indiana Warrior Dash was a hit for many.  I must hand it to Warrior Dash, they put on a great show, and had some incredible sponsors, as well as offering a fun race for all abilities.  This year’s race took place on September 10, 2016, right outside of Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Racers were met by a friendly staff of volunteers into a FREE parking area, as well as FREE bag check, and a FREE beer from Shock Top.  Check in was smooth and easy, and races started off on time with the classic Warrior Torches!

The first heat was the competitive heat where racers, took off for a chance to earn a podium place as well as a spot at the OCR World Championships.

Despite the rainy, sometimes downpour at times, people showed up and filled the festival area and course with smiles and a great, friendly atmosphere.  The obstacles were not too difficult and they were spaced out over the 3.9 mile course, several water stations were also set up.

The first obstacle encountered was the Shocktop Unfiltered.  It was a series of over-under walls, as well as a crawl under a tarp.  The walls weren’t too high and the crawl was pretty easy, especially for the vertically challenged crowd.  Next, was the Diesel Dome, which was a 30x50ft dome, which racers climbed over, definitely a challenge for those afraid of heights!  This was followed by Trenches, another tarp crawl through mud, then Risky Business, a balance beam placed in water.  Finally, Warrior Summit, which was a slip wall with ropes at a much easier angle than most OCR races.

After the Warrior Summit, racers approached the Mud Mounds, Pipeline, Fisherman’s Catch, and then the Warrior Roast.  The Fisherman’s Catch was definitely the most difficult of all the obstacles using entire upper body, swinging from ring to ring.  Many open heat racers, just crawled over the cargo net, rather than using the rings.

The final 3 obstacles in the last 400 meters of the race, were Alcatraz, Goliath, and Muddy Mayhem.  Alcatraz was a nice swim to rafts in the middle of a lake, followed by Goliath, an epic giant slide.  Goliath got racers all nice and cleaned off, but of course it’s not a true Warrior Dash if you come out clean!  So the race finished with its last obstacle, Muddy Mayhem, where racers were doused in thick clay-like mud, before receiving their medals at the finish line.

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Overall, it was a great race, people enjoyed themselves, and all levels were present.  I talked to many people who had never done obstacle course racing before, and they were satisfied with their experience.  I believe the Indiana Warrior Dash recruited some new racers into the world of OCR at this particular race.

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I must highlight that Warrior Dash is one of the few races that offer a charity option in partnership with St. Jude.  For racers that choose to run for this charity, they had to raise donations, which based on the amount they raised, were given some awesome incentive prizes.  For example, those who raised at least $300 gained access to the St. Jude tent at the race.  The tent included private showers, complimentary gear check, non-alcoholic beverages, and their own hangout area within the festival.  There were also incentive prizes for those who hit the $100 mark as well as $500 and $1000.

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Several top sponsors also included Shock Top Beer, which racers 21 and over enjoyed a free beer following the race, and only $5 a beer after.  Delta Faucets was another sponsor and they provided a whole stage equipped with their shower heads for clean up after the race.  There was also a karaoke set up on that same stage where people were showering!  What a party in the shower!!!  The other sponsor that stood out was Rockin Fuel, which provided protein shakes at the finish that nobody could open with muddy hands.  But it’s all good, lots of clean people to help racers out.

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Overall, excellent show, great sponsors, staff was friendly, and racers were happy.  With that being said, Warrior Dash is not up to par with more competitive race companies in terms of true obstacle course racing such as Spartan Race and Savage Race.  However, I don’t think it needs to be.  Warrior Dash is a fun way to get new people introduced to the sport in a non-competitive, not heavily difficult nature.  I would recommend this race for anyone, all levels!  Bring the family for a day of fun!

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Photo Credit: Luis Salamanca 

Tough Mudder Atlanta 2016

PROLOGUE-TOUGH MUDDER ATLANTA
6:30 AM, Atlanta – A sudden elbow to the gut rips me out of a nice dream. “Someone is ringing the doorbell!” says my wife. “Oh God! Did you oversleep?!” Through sleepy eyes, the digital numbers of my clock glare at me. The numbers, they’re all wrong! Fuck! It’s 15 minutes AFTER the time I told fellow Grey Beret, Mr. Pink, to pick me up!  I run downstairs to get the door. No one should have to see me in nothing but boxers and crazy bedhead at 6:30 in the morning.

7:00 AM, Waffle House, Fairburn, GA – As ultra-super-duper-high octane-elites, Mr. Pink and I take our race day nutrition very seriously. I get my fill of coffee, bacon, eggs, grits and toast and we head on out.

7:35 AM, QT – My habit, my deeply ingrained rut, the bedrock of my pre-race routine, does not happen. What the hell?! The universe is out of order!

7:55 AM, Bouckaert Farm – The long line of cars traces a sinuous path into the green rolling parking fields of this beautiful equestrian facility. 10 million square miles of open fields and they still funnel everyone down to two people taking money.

8:05 AM, Bouckaert Farm – We start the long trek towards Mudder Village. The air is cool, the sky is cloudless, the sun is blazing, and the gravel road is dusty. It’s going to be a blue bell day.

8:15 AM, Endless gravel road – We’re getting our warm up in by powerwalking. Tough Mudder isn’t a race (…”it’s a challenge”) but, by God, it seems walking from the parking area sure is.

8:45 AM, Mudder Village – My board short pockets are loaded down with Mustard packs, Gu blocks and gels for the whole crew. I’m a walking hot dog stand wrapped in a Vitamin Shoppe bun. And in the other pocket an old school waterproof, disposable camera. You know, with film and a winder thingy.

8:49 AM, Mudder Village – At the control point into the Warm-Up Zone, fellow GORMRs Laura and her sexy man, Howard, are the TM “bouncers”. Extremely official with their number clicker. It’s good to finally meet in person. Hugs and Handshakes (who got what I wonder?) are exchanged.

8:50 AM, Mudder Village – We name drop and they let us in.  We head into the scrum of bodies to loosen up with tight, short-shorts wearing Coach Mud. I’m trying to find our missing Grey and avoid getting hit in the face and the sacred globes with all the swinging arms. It’s proving to be the first obstacle.Tough Mudder Coach Mud

9:15 AM, Starting Corral– We are three Grey Berets (myself, Mr. Pink, and Stretch) and one GBbaby (any potential future Grey Beret under the age of 40).

9:16 AM, Starting Corral–This year we get an emcee with a more serious message. He has us take a knee as he lays down some inspiration. And it keeps going. And going. I’m fidgeting more than an ADHD addled first grader in church, and my knees are barking. Fuck it! I can take my inspiration standing up.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN

  1. And we’re off. We settle into an easy pace.
  2. A mile into the woods and we already have to pee. Getting old is great….
  3. Kiss of mud 0 is the first obstacle to appear (finally!) out of the woods at the top of a hill. It’s a short barbed wire crawl with one pit and a hay bale barrier, but it brings the mud.
  4. It’s a lovely view of the rolling fields in the distance.
  5. We head back into the woods and quickly arrive at Skidmarked.
  6. All the room in the world and we have to make this hard 90-degree approach to this giant angled wall. The transition is more awkward than a middle school dance. This thing is a monster. It takes a running start and a big jump to reach the lip and then carry that momentum to a big heel hook and then crank with the leg to pull up an over. Tires (thus the obstacle name) on the canted backside make a stable place to stand while helping others get over the lip.
  7. The trail running in the woods is just glorious.
  8. A nice downhill gets us to the first water station. The volunteers are handing out cups of water and some kind of pinkish red liquid being supplied by huge spaceship looking coolers perched on spindly steel tripods. I down some water and then eye the liquid of unnatural color. “It’s an electrolyte drink”, says the chipper volunteer. Hoping that it’s not like last year’s Smurf Semen, I take a swig. It’s fucking nasty. Sphincter puckering nasty. Drag your tongue across sandpaper to erase the taste, nasty. Different color, same nastiness, but this year it’s trying to replicate the tropical flavors of the jungle. This is true, if the fucking jungle was made up of Triaminic trees, ball sweat bushes, and castor oil climbing vines. I belly up to the watership and down (see what I did there?) multiple cups of water to cleanse my sensitive and sophisticated palette.
  9. Pitfall shows up soon after. I won’t make the same mistake as last year, and so tread carefully in the watery mud pit, keenly aware of the hidden drops in elevation that await. A volunteer is dousing us with a firehose.
  10. The open field running in the grass is flat but the mowed path is still heavy on the legs.
  11. Shit! I forgot to put on sunscreen. The sun is blazing, but the temperature is perfection.
  12. And there it is, majestically perched on a meadowed hill; King of Swingers. Oh do I have plans for you my lovely steel and wood monster! I climb up to the 12-foot-high platform determined to ring the bell and NOT smack Johnny Spittinseed and his love apples against the water after a caterwauling death spiral. Oh look! There’s a rare siting of Grey Beret All-Star! The intimidation of last year is replaced by shear excitement in the now. I jump and get a good swing. The lache is on point, with no flailing. The bell is rung, and I fall into the water feet first. Sweet!!!! Now it’s time to do what I have been thinking about all week.Tough Mudder King of the Swingers
  13. I’m back on the platform. This time it’s going to be all about the élan, the flair, the pizzazz, the joie de vivre! It’s all just 10 dollar SAT words for fucking show off. I jump, I swing, I release, and wheeeeeeeeee, I execute a reverse flip (aka a gainer) and manage to land it the water mostly feet first.
  14. As I clamber out of the pool, lifeguard lady says, “that was cool, but you were nowhere near the bell.” You think? Wow, tough crowd.
  15. We all go back together to do a team swing. It takes a few minutes and letting some people pass in line to get us all lined up. People will talk for generations about the majesty of that moment, when we swung in perfect harmony…..and all missed the bell.
  16. Oh look! Another water station! There’s goodies! Chocolate Chip cookie dough energy-protein-something or other bars. I take a big ol’ bite. “Hey! That’s pretty good.” I keep chewing and chewing and chewing. My initial assessment obviously wrong. This shit is just not breaking down. It’s transforming into disgusting little fucking pellets in my mouth. I spit it out onto the ground. Looks like a Keebler Elf took a shit in the middle of the road. I choke down a vanilla bean GU to get rid of the bad taste. I avoid the putrid pink piss of the Prince of Darkness.
  17. It’s nice and flat and shady as we run by two beautiful lakes. There is no sprinting.
  18. Mud Mile 2.0 appears – huge, deep gashes in the earf, with piles of dirt between them. We jump down into the first pit, after taking a group picture of course; the “kid” taking the picture eyeing the disposable camera as if it’s some alien object from another world.
  19. Our GBbaby immediately takes point, does a wall squat, and pats his thighs in a brotherly Mudder invitation. We use him as a stepping stool and then turn around and pull his ass up onto the mounds. I immediately nickname him “Thighs”. We repeat this 32 times, or maybe it was 5. I don’t know, it seemed to go on forever, everyone getting good and lathered up with the sweet silkiness of Georgia clay.
  20. We come upon “civilization” as we cross the road being used as a spectator thoroughfare. On the other side I see a huge morass of the blackest, goopiest mud this side of Mississippi in the middle of the course. There is but one thing to do; I jump as high as I can and come straight down, feet first, into the middle of it. It makes a very satisfying “squelch”. I manage to keep my shoes on my feet upon extraction.
  21. A steep hill scramble gets us to the perimeter of another picturesque lake. We are about a third in and the legs are feeling fine.
  22. As we follow the bend in the lake’s edge we spy an idyllic dock where other Mudders seem to be rinsing themselves off. We all have a shit ton of mud in our shoes and agree that’s a fine idea.
  23. Who is this crazy motherfucker in FULL fireman’s kit, oxy tank and mask, and carrying a huge (50 foot?) section of supply hose? And I thought my Gu packets and camera were too much weight.
  24. We hop over the triple tiered round hay bales of Bale Bounds and head straight to the dock.
  25. We practice our flutter kicks while trying to get the mud out of our shoes.
  26. Back into the woods we go and Mr. Pink decides now’s the time to start doing hill sprints in preparation for the Blue Mountains of the OCRWC. Well fuck me! But, I accept the challenge, downshift and hightail it after him.
  27. Sounding like a herd of stampeding water buffalo and making more noise than a playground full of preschoolers, people just automatically moved to the right, as we made our way up the hill.
  28. Well that was unnecessary………my heart wanting to throat punch me.
  29. I can hear the music of Mudder Village! This means absolutely nothing, because I know we still have a long fucking way to go.
  30. We pop out of the woods at the edge of the gravel parking lot behind Mudder Village. And run by the showers. Nothing to see yet since it’s too early. Later it’s sure to be a funny picture of runners looking at showerers thinking, I wish I was them, and showerers looking at the runners thinking, I’m glad I’m not them. Looks to me like the perfect mooning opportunity.
  31. We get past the stables and see the Finish Line side of Mudder Village with electroshock therapy and the towering construction that is frequent flyer’s club.
  32. As we leave the Mudder Village behind, we get a nice downhill on the dirt road, running past the spectator outpost where people in chairs are drinking beers, catching some rays and enjoying “the show”. And by show, I mean us of course; plodding along, weazing like geriatric pugs.
  33. Now back in the fields we climb a hill and come up on Quagmire. It’s a deep rectangular pit with shear faces at either end. It’s another TM example of nonsensical obstacle naming. It is neither a low lying spot of soft wet land nor is it a particularly difficult situation to resolve. Not when you have Thighs running with you! We drop down the 5+ feet, trudge through the shallow water/mud, put Thighs in the wall squat position and hop on out easy peasy lemon squeezy. He stays in to boost a few people out while we help from up top.
  34. I jump back in to see if it’s possible to jump up and mantle out. It is. We extract Thighs and head on out.
  35. From the top of this hill we get a fantastic long range view of the larger meadows beyond. I can see pyramid scheme immediately downhill from us.
  36. I lead the charge, and Grand Jeté my way downhill through a carpet of golden ragwort. I’m jumping and prancing, people are laughing, and it’s just all around general horsefuckery.
  37. A wet, deep, muddy moat separates us from Pyramid Scheme. This was not here last year. What a site it is! If any obstacle screams teamwork, this is it. A huge angled wall covered in white, obviously slippery, plastic panels laden with human ladders. The bottom 2×4 lip being used to brace the “base people’s” feet is a good 3 feet above the pit. There is a rhythm of open lane, human ladder, open lane, human ladder, etc…, which allows one to climb to the second person’s shoulders and then get pulled up from the top by someone hanging by their ankles from the top. It is no joke making my way up.Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme
  38. I get to the top and I am immediately recruited, along with another fellow, by this VERY fit young woman to lower her down by her ankles so she can help her teammates. She helps a couple of people including Mr. Pink and then has to abandon the cause as her teammates have shifted too far left. I go ahead and get grabbed by the ankles. Wait, that didn’t sound right. Stretch and GBbaby are pulled to safety.
  39. We yuck it up while running along the edge of the main meadow. Everyone is in good spirits.
  40. The mustard supply is dipped into as a prophylactic measure.
  41. The gravel road along the beautiful lake is dead flat and not unwelcome.
  42. As we come up to the sign for Hero Carry (on a flat gravel road? Sweeeet!), this tiny wisp of a girl yells out “Hey, is that Tretsch?!” Why yes it is! It’s my GORMR friend Lara and she is in need of a hero to carry. Before my boys can jump on this (you know where I’m going with this) I offer up my slim 184 pound self. I know, I know – a true gentlemen. I drape myself over her shoulders by just leaning over (she is that tiny, but the quads?! Boom!) and she carries my ass THE ENTIRE WAY, no stopping. To quote a rarely used saying in the OCR world, “she went full beast mode”. And on the second  leg of the carry, while my boys are carrying two hundred pound bundles of sweat and stank, I’m sprinting with wee little (but fucking strong!) Lara over my shoulder caveman style. I. Have. No. Shame. Tough Mudder Hero Carry
  43. More heavy grass running gets us to Funky Monkey (no longer 2.0 anymore? When will we see 2.1 release?). We are all dry as German comedy, so I am not worried at all about the thin monkey bars. I hurt my lat/shoulder at Savage Race in April and hadn’t been able to do even one pull-up until just a few days prior to today. So, that was a bit of a concern. The self-imposed hiatus from upper body exercises proves to have been the right choice and I get through without even a twinge. The other two Greys sail through and then it’s GBbaby’s turn. We cheer as he makes his way across the bars, we holler as he makes it through the trapezey thingy, and we are just short of getting up in his grill, drill instructor style when he stalls out, but then digs in and finishes out the traverse bar. It’s his first time making it through and we couldn’t be happier.Tough Mudder Funky Monkey 2.0
  44. The Greys go back for another round.
  45. Will this fucking grass ever end? At least it’s flat and mowed shorter than last year.
  46. Fuck! I hate crawling under nets on the ground. Devils’ Beard has enough slack to do a hunched over walk. Going backwards makes it easier, but it’s hell on my shirtless back. I bear crawl the last few yards. Mudders at the end are helpfully holding the net up and taut.
  47. Well, this is interesting, Birth Canal has had a release update and is now Birth Canal 2.0. The difference is immediately apparent. Instead of crawling underneath and along the length of the water filled vaginal walls (oh please! This obstacle is fertile material for sophomoric humor. It’s like TM is trying to egg me on with such a name. I can push these jokes out all day. So take a deep breath and relax) we will now crawl perpendicular to them. This proves to be MUCH harder than last year. I strain a stomach muscle making the final breach.Tough Mudder Birth Canal
  48. The third water station is like seeing an old friend, but now this friend has upped his game and brought port-a-johns and bananas (any correlation is purely coincidental I’m sure.) I take a conveniently cut half of a perfectly ripe banana while another chipper volunteer is slicing her way through a mountain of additional bananas. Oh glorious musa acuminate, your delicious flavor touches my soul! Again I avoid Satan’s sack syrup.
  49. I pass out some Gu blocks to chew on. Their fruity and sweet flavor is a good little pick me up.
  50. I really hate this fucking grass.
  51. Cage Crawl shows up at a perfect time as I’m starting to really feel the heat of the sun. Man, am I gonna have a burn when this is done! This is the first obstacle that has a Legionnaire’s (that’s a Mudder who has completed more than one TM) lane. I suss out the two different versions but do not see any particular detail that makes them terribly different. They both are chain link fence suspended just scant inches above the surface of a long water pit. I love this obstacle. Macon Mud Run has one like this (without the water being sprayed in your face). It’s peaceful pulling yourself along using the fencing, with only your face above the water. It’s quiet. The spraying water every few feet ruins the Zen, but this is Tough Mudder, not a sensory deprivation tank at some shi shi new age spa. I gotta remember to close my fucking mouth!Tough Mudder Cage Crawl
  52. The wind picks up just in time for us to head into the shade of the woods, soaked from head to toe.
  53. We play sun patch hopscotch.
  54. The flat trail takes us through a pleasant pine forest. This part of the 2015 TM was, and I quote from last year’s review, a “slippery, muddy muckfest of a trail”. Today it is mercifully dry. So my hips, knees, ankles, pretty much my entire fucking lower half is pleased.
  55. Ok, TM HQ, you need to have a come to Jesus meeting with the Department of Obstacle Designation (DoOD!). Last year the Liberator was a net laid over the trail, this year it’s a canted peg board ten feet high. Neither year does the name make any fucking sense. Did you not want to throw away your preprinted signs?
  56. The Liberator also has a Legionnaire’s lane, however this time the difference is immediately apparent; the regular lane has two rows of peg holes by utilizing two pegs while at the Legionnaire’s lane there is but one peg for one row of holes. We of course want to do the harder one, so we go for the single peg.
  57. Each lane on the wall is bordered on each side by a continuous notched 2×4 that starts about 6 feet off the ground, so its crystal clear that the beta is to pull yourself up with the peg, get your feet in the notches and top out easy peasy. It takes a couple of jumping tries to get the peg into the highest hole possible. This of course elicits all manner of crude jokes. At this point, calling me sophomoric would be generous. Once that’s achieved it’s a fairly straight forward climb from there. If this wall was vertical, now THAT would be interesting.
  58. More running through the woods gets us to Balls to the Wall (now here’s a name that makes sense. Especially for someone who “inconveniences” his conkers at almost every race). These 12 foot walls are hung with large diameter ropes with huge knots (which just get in the fucking way). The two 2x ledger boards at the 1/3 points make it an easy climb. The horizontal bar holding the rope makes the transition very awkward and rather “exciting”. I go around and do it a second time to get rid of those butterflies at the transition. Doesn’t work.
  59. We have to force GBbaby down to move on. The man loves to help people.
  60. A barely controlled downhill pell-mell run (oh! The kneecap is barking!!) gets us back to the open meadows. I’m pleased with myself that I stayed on my feet. And in fact, have not taken my usual fucking face plant all day long. It’s a good day.
  61. The 4th water station offers up blessings in the form of fellow GORMR Patti, who yells “Grey Berets!” at us from a distance with uplifting enthusiasm. Your volunteer experience is not complete until you get felt up…..err, I mean hugged, by a gaggle of Grey Berets. I’m still avoiding Beelzebub’s bathwater.
  62. Blockness Monster was invented for WTM 2015 and I was pumped to tackle it after hearing about how fun it was from GBbaby for the last few miles. Imagine the shape of a box of aluminum foil. Now imagine it 20 feet long, 4 feet square, covered in black plastic panels, skewered with a rotating axle, and partially submerged in the water.Tough Mudder Blockness Monster
  63. We eagerly jump into the chest-ish high water. The key is to get the block moving (with numerous people needed. These things are fucking beasts), grab the corner as it rises above your head, and let the rotational mass carry you to the other side. The fun part is staying on and riding it like some kind of cubist log rolling competition. This benefits the people on the approach side who can just “grab-n-go”. I spend a few minutes doing my best lumberjack imitation.
  64. We have a blast playing around on the two blocks.
  65. My watch vibrates as I climb out of the pool for an even 10 miles. Oh, we on the downhill side now boys!
  66. I really. Hate. This. Grass.
  67. Everest 2.0, a white plastic coated ¼ pipe, sits alone in the field. Blinding white against a dull green background. The main access road is only 50 feet away, given ample opportunity for people coming and going to watch the madness.
  68. I wave the people off from grabbing my hands and make my approach. Now, I am fully aware of the curved, deep (16 inches versus a standard 2x), plastic coated top lip from last year’s race, so I know what to expect. But, my tiredness, and frankly nonchalant approach, leaves my fingertips an inch shy of the lip. I wave off everyone for a second time and the attempt is successful. I gladly accept help to pull myself over the top.
  69. We all start chipping in to help other Mudders get over the top, but after helping GBbaby my shoulder/lat issue flairs up and I have to call it quits on the assistance.
  70. Pink grabs a volunteer and points out a piece of the plastic panel that is torn, its sharp point just waiting to slice someone open.
  71. We pass the Taj Mahal of horse stables on our way to Cliffhanger. This thing is a fucking equine extravagance. A pony palace. A stupendous stud structure.
  72. For the first time today we come to a screeching halt due to a long backup. The cargo net draped over the shear cliff face is only wide enough for three people abreast and the volunteers are keeping too much of a vertical distance between the racers.
  73. As the wait goes on, knees start to hurt, backs start to seize up, and I can feel the sun crisping my unprotected skin.
  74. We finally get our turn and waste no time clambering up, and then head back into the cool shade of the woods.
  75. Pink decides it’s time for another fucking hill sprint. And it’s a long one. By now we are over 11 miles in. Fuck! Oh well, the Blue Mountains ain’t get any shorter.
  76. With my heart still pounding like Ron Jeremy, we arrive at Berlin Walls. These 10 foot monsters aren’t too bad with the step board at about 12” off the ground and everything being dry. A running start does the trick. We hang around for a bit helping out.
  77. Uh oh, I feel a wee flutter in the left calf and we are coming up on Arctic Enema 2.0.
  78. I maintain my cool (doh!) after sliding into the water under the chain link fence, but as soon as I climb over the wall at the midpoint of the dumpster, the cold slams into me like a freight train. I’m just waiting for the inevitable calf seizure.
  79. I have written many words and dropped many a genitalia euphemism talking about cold water obstacles, be it Savage Race, Almighty Run, Tough Mudder, and many others. BUT, this year’s Arctic Enema 2.0 is, by far, the COLDEST FUCKING DUNK…EVER! The water is so chock full of ice that it seems to have stalled between phases and become this horrific viscous slurry. Moving through it is an effort. I can feel my body shutting down as I strain to climb out.
  80. It takes a moment of vigorous thumping on the thighs to get some feeling back and then we’re off running to finish this lark.
  81. We round the final bend and see the choice between Electroshock Therapy and the Legionnaire’s choice; Frequent Flyer’s Club. There is no choice for any of us, we choose the Legionnaire Lane. I could get on my soapbox and rant about how fucking stupid and dangerous electroshock therapy is but I don’t want to start a war between the masochists and the realists.
  82. We stop at a tent to get our Legionnaire’s head band (2x for me) and I couldn’t be happier that it’s fellow GORMR Peter McNairy putting the band on my noggin. Inappropriate hugging is shared.
  83. GBbaby stops us just before get to FFC and asks us to “huddle up”. Becoming very emotional and obviously holding back tears, he tells us today is the anniversary of his father’s battle with cancer and how grateful he is for us and this day. We give him a Grey Beret group hug (as I have said before the Grey Berets like to hug it out). I turn away toward the obstacle because I’m getting some major dust in my eyes.
  84. FFC is a towering single sided ziggurat (that makes it technically giant stairs, ok, sue me. Ziggurat is a cool word!) We heave ourselves up to the first tier and then the second. There is a guy stuck there, with crippling cramps, trying to get to the last tier. We lift him straight up to the final tier.
  85. I make my way to the edge and assess the situation. 12-15’ above a stuntman’s airbag (which is BARELY wide enough for the three lanes), and long poles, hung with platinum rig nunchucks, jutting out from each lane above our heads. The finish line is but 15 feet beyond the airbag. I guess the object is to see which nunchuck you can touch. The furthest one, colored orange of course, is about 8 feet out. There is no room to back up and take a running start.
  86. “Land on your butt!” the volunteer yells, and then sighs with disgust and rolls her eyes as the dude next to me jumps and lands on his feet. Pffft! Hasn’t he ever watched a stunt show?!
  87. I pull out my disposable camera. I have one frame left. I jump, while taking a selfie, and land on my butt. Since I had to literally send the camera off to get developed, you my dear readers, will have to wait to see if this level of jackassery was captured on film.
  88. Getting off the airbag is a combination of awkward rolling and flailing limbs. Never has there been a more ungraceful finish to an OCR.
  89. I step on the finish line, stop my watch, and get my orange headband. 12.2 miles has come to an end. But wait! I turn right around to go back and do FFC again. I’m gonna touch that furthest nunchuck!
  90. I grab the middle lane again (is the bag moving? There seems to be less room at the left lane!), and jump! I miss the last nunchuck by a finger length! Damn!
  91. I go back around and climb back up. It has gotten crowded at the center lane, for obvious reasons. I don’t want to make the boys wait too long watching all my foolishness, so I grab the left lane.
  92. I hear the screams below of suckers going through electroshock therapy.
  93. Fuck ME! This bag has moved! Dropping a plumb line would surely show the edge of the air bag only a couple of feet from my starting position. Gulp! I’m going to have to jump out and to the right while trying to hit the nunchuck with my left hand. Zoinks!
  94. I bend the knees, spread the feet, and spring forward! And the world stopped, no external stimuli getting through my grey matter, and I floated through the air, my eyes squarely on the prize. I wish it was a bell, because I smacked the shit out of that last orange nunchuck. I land squarely on my ass, thankfully on the air bag. I’m sure the volunteer is pleased.
  95. Annnnnnd I’m done. What an awesome day!! The course was fantastic, the obstacles fantastic, the companionship fantastic. Whether you walk or run, grab some good friends and do this challenge at this location. Tretsch says DO IT!

POSTSCRIPT
1:00 PM, Mudder Village – I go through the free swag receiving line (I see the bottles of that fucking nasty electrolyte drink and make the sign of the cross. Begone spunk of Satan!), avoid the energy bars, and pick up a sample size of Secret over The Old Spice, because you know, it’s strong enough for a man but made for a woman. Besides, I don’t want to smell like my late, great, grandfather. The shirts are a nice technical Tee in a sweet grey color.

1:30 PM, Mudder Village – I am showered and smelling quite good actually. Someone had brought a bottle of Crew body shampoo. And though I smell like a desperate millennial, at least I’m mostly clean. It is a bit disturbing to see dirt on the Secret after I freshen my pits. Missed a couple of spots I guess.

1:45 PM, Mudder Village – With beers in hand we slump down to the ground under the shade of tree and shoot the shit. All manner of GORMRs are around and the socializing is on point.

3:00 PM, Mudder Village – Mr. Pink and I make our way towards the exit. We eyeball a mini fitness course being sponsored by the Army (Sorry Dad. Semper Fi!). “you wanna do it?” I ask. “Sure”, Mr. Pink replies. We sign up and I line up to go first. Push a weighted sled 30 feet, do 6 pull ups, low crawl back to beginning, 20 decline push-ups and then pull the sled back to the starting line. I about die. Mr. Pink absolutely crushes my time. A take-me-out-to-the-woodshed kind of beating. I blame it on my shoes. We both get cool t-shirts.

3:10 PM, Endless gravel road – We stroll back to the truck, reliving the day and enjoying the spectacle of our surroundings. It was a good day.