Jon Albon – OCR Euros and Tougher UK


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Jon Albon on the recent European OCR World Championships, Tougher Mudder UK, and the rest of 2018.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Savage Race : New obstacles, new locations, new syndicate medal. Check them out at Savage Race.com

Show Notes:

Jon’s blog

Jon on Strava

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

Tougher Mudder KY: Laps and Live Music

Let me start by saying this: Great job, Tough Mudder!  That feedback email that you get after a race? Tough Mudder really seems to have paid attention.  Year after year, they have consistently gotten better.  If you read my review for the Tougher Mudder TN last September, then you understand why I made a point to start with some praise for the improvements!

With Tough Mudder starting their competitive series just last year, they were playing the sort of catch up game that any runner who has ever fallen off an obstacle or come from behind should understand (I know I do!).  They realized that Mudder Nation needed improvements, and they did what many OCR brands do not do well: They listened to constructive criticism and made changes.

VENUE and PARKING: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, KY

One of the aspects that I most love about racing, other than the amazing and supportive OCR family, is getting to see so many different parts of the world that I would not see otherwise.  Although we didn’t race in or just around the Kentucky Speedway, getting to drive by it on the way in to the venue was exciting (I do NOT excite easily).

 Parking was in three different sections, and I went with the “General Parking” option.  It was a half-mile away, but it wasn’t a half-mile of wondering where the entrance was, as for the entire walk to registration, I could see part of the course, several obstacles, and a portion of the festival area.  Parking was quick and easy.

View-from-Parking-Area

 

REGISTRATION/CHECK-IN:

There is some room for improvement here, although it is better than the last Tougher I competed in (Thank you, TM!).  With plenty of lines for the non-competitive heats (makes sense, since there are far more participants in these areas), there were only two lines and two tables for Tougher Mudders.  While it was a smooth check-in with zero issues, maybe adding a table or two would help, as the check-in volunteers were three to a table, so there was congestion.  Overall, though, it took me maybe three minutes to show my ID, get my bib and timing chip, and move on.  I also come prepared, though, so that always helps those volunteers, as well as speeds up the process for other participants.

Registration-and-Check-in

Registration-tents

There were also tables set up with plenty of markers and zip ties for timers, as well as scissors to cut the loose ends off of the zip ties.  Convenience at its finest!

STARTING LINE, GOOD TIMES, and THE COURSE (of course)

After being told that there were some starting line issues this year already, I was a little nervous about being sure I was at the gate early.  I must say, it was hard to hear any announcements and I was constantly checking my watch and looking toward the starting line.  Thankfully, it seemed like volunteers were deployed to find anyone wearing a Tougher Mudder bib and to be sure we were headed to the starting line on time.

The way people were organized into corrals by time, then sent to the starting line, was a pretty cool change from the norm of people just heading to the start and getting a wristband or something else checked.  I spoke to a few of the runners from each type of race (5k, Tough Mudder half, Tough Mudder full), and how they felt about being able to start all in the same wave.  Everyone I spoke to loved the idea of being mixed with others with different, yet the same, goal-to finish stronger and together! No one felt left out or “called out” for running a shorter race.

After I finished my race, I met up at the starting line to visit with DJ Will Gill, who is always, always a superstar at the starting line and gets everyone motivated.  He announced me when I walked up as the Tougher female winner, and that was pretty sweet.  Not a lot of starting line people really get me going, and he is one of the few. Unlike other race venues, DJ Will Gill even let me sing the National Anthem for one of the heats!  Tough Mudder allows a moment of silence and the National Anthem before each and every wave of runners.

National-Anthem

Once runners lined up, they had a flat start that went to the top of a small hill, and then it was ON!  Tougher Mudders had to follow course markings like everyone else, but we had Lap 1 and Lap 2 challenges.  We pretty much had the course to ourselves for Lap 1, but once we hit Lap 2, we were intermingled with non-Tougher Mudder runners, and while it caused some congestion, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  My husband, who ran his first OCR, was part of the 5k crew, and he felt just as part of everything and every obstacle as everyone else.  For this being his first OCR, and with him not being a runner at all, I worried he would not know where to go on the course, but he says the course was marked so well, there was no chance for any confused at all.  (He also is planning on running another Tough Mudder, “at least a half”, he says!).

Runners also crossed over where others were just getting to the race and having the cheers and encouragement as I ran by was pretty nice. I also think Tough Mudder did a great job with changing up a little how the Tougher Mudders had to compete, such as we had to complete the King Kong Infinity, and we had to swim across a pond (I couldn’t even touch the bottom!).  Towards the end, Toughers had an ice bag carry, and we carried it to the Arctic Enema, broke it open, and poured it into the water before getting in and swimming to the other side.  As one who doesn’t like any weather below 70 degrees, this wasn’t my favorite part, but I do appreciate it being towards the end of the race!

DJ-Will-Gill

Starting-Line

RECOGNITION and MUDDER VILLAGE

Not only did Tougher Mudder decide to create medals for the top three male and female finishers, they also added a podium ceremony.  I do wish the podium was out in the middle of the venue, rather than being crammed at the end of the finish line.  This allows for people to enjoy watching the announcements, as well as others, getting pictures up on the podium just for fun; HOWEVER, for Tough Mudder to have made the changes with medals and recognition, and in such a short time, was pretty rockstar of them!

Podium-Ceremony

And guess what? There was a LIVE BAND in Mudder Village, as well!  There was other music being played, but the band did a super job covering top songs, and this was a wonderful difference from so many other venues I’ve been to.  The ATM was in a building on the way in and set aside and well-marked.  There were new obstacles and others from the past were brought back, as well.  It was nice to go into a race and not know exactly what to expect.

This is a racing brand that has been around for some time, now, and if you haven’t run one yet, go do it!  If you have, think about doing it again!

I’ll be back, Tough Mudder!

 

Tough Mudder Introduces Their 2018 Pro Team/Competitive Series

12:20pm Update – Here is the podcast interview.

In September of 2017, TMHQ announced the first ever Tough Mudder Pro Team. Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, Hunter McIntyre and Stef Bishop had already been featured on most of TM’s online content, so few were surprised.  Today, the 2018 team is being announced much sooner in the year. TMHQ revealed this morning that Ryan, Lindsay, and Hunter are all coming back, and they have added two more women. The first is Corinna Coffin. Corinna had been mostly dormant in OCR since BattleFrog folded in the fall of 2016. She came back last July to win the first ever Tough Mudder X.

The second woman is Allison Tai. Along with being the favorite guest of The World’s Toughest Podcast, Allison won last year’s Holy Grail Leaderboard (Total competitive miles) with 305 total miles. Stef Bishop is not returning to the team. Stef won World’s Toughest Mudder in 2016, then had a relatively disappointing 2017 Tough Mudder season.

Matt B. Davis spoke to TMHQ’s Eli Hutchison and Corinna Coffin to discuss some of the news. The podcast episode will be released later today, so be sure to download it so you can listen to it on your next run.

Matt and Eli will be talking about the evolution of the competitive series. Many Mudders enjoyed the Tougher and Toughest events in 2017, as well as Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder. Tough Mudder is now calling these events, Fittest, Fastest, and Toughest, with the culmination being World’s Toughest Mudder on November 10th and 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.

Check out the video introducing the different championship series here!

Photo Credits: Tough Mudder

Is Facebook Taking Over OCR? Or is OCR Taking Over Facebook?

Once upon a time, “It’s not on real TV, but you can see it online” meant you were scraping the bottom the barrel. You aren’t on TV? Well, you must not be legitimate/big time/ready for primetime. In 2017, that is no longer the case.

It has been said that the mobile phone is much like the “Big 3 TV networks” were back in the day. Radio, believe it or not, ruled our entertainment choices at one time, until television came along. ABC, NBC, and CBS were bringing pictures into millions of homes, and by doing that, they were putting myriad radio stars and advertisers out of business. Today, mobile devices and streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon are the new champs, with “traditional television boxes” being the radio.

Enter Facebook. If I was a tech writer, I could go on and on about worldwide mobile users, FB users, data, and usage. I am an OCR writer, so let’s just say Facebook is Facebook. It rules your life and mine, in and out of obstacle racing. Earlier this month, FB launched something called Facebook Watch, which is their new home for “channel style” content.  Facebook will launch original content, as well as partnering with brands for additional content.

Last week, Spartan Race announced it had partnered with Facebook to provide live streaming race coverage for one of those new channels. This new deal will be exclusive as Spartan previously provided that content in real time, and for later streaming on both FB and YouTube. You can view that Facebook channel here. Most Spartan fans are already aware of the US Championship Series and The Tahoe Champs being aired online. As part of the press release, Spartan announced 4 additional broadcasts for fall races in Atlanta, Dallas, Sacramento, and San Francisco.

Today, Tough Mudder announced their own partnership with Facebook and are launching two new channels: Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live.

According to the TMHQ press release.

  • Tough Mudder has partnered with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows. 
  • Facebook will be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. 
  • Fans can add this programming to their watchlist by following the Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live show pages. 

If you recall, the Tougher Mudder Championship Series was just announced last week and offers additional prize money for 4 Tougher events. You can read more about that series here.

As we first heard in The Rise Of The Sufferfests, “Obstacle racing may be the first sport that social media launched.” Should it be any surprise that the two industry leaders, along with the social media leader are doubling down together?

Tough Mudder Press Release

TOUGH MUDDER TO DELIVER ORIGINAL LIVE EVENT PROGRAMMING ON FACEBOOK’S NEW WATCH PLATFORM

 The New “Tougher Mudder Championship” Series To Be Broadcast Exclusively on Facebook

The Live Programming To Include Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp Fitness Classes

BROOKLYN, NY – September 25, 2017 –Tough Mudder, Inc., the leading sports, active lifestyle and media brand, announced it has partnered with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows. Facebook will be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. Fans can add this programming to their watchlist by following the Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live show pages.

The new Tougher Mudder Championship race series will feature four events beginning with the first regional event on October 7th at Tougher Tri-State in Englishtown, NJ and culminating with the Tougher Mudder World Championship on November 4th at Lake Elsinore, CA (see full schedule below). The Tougher Mudder Championship race series will feature the world’s top OCR, endurance runners, and functional fitness female and male athletes tackling 20+ signature Tough Mudder obstacles, such as Kong, Everest, Funky Monkey: The Revolution, and Arctic Enema, over 10 grueling miles for a chance to take home weekly cash prizing (up to $2,500). Top finishers will qualify for the Championship and respective winning purse of $10,000 each for the first place male and female finishers. The coverage on Facebook will feature live feeds from multiple obstacles throughout the course, “point of view” head cams and aerial drone footage, as well as behind-the-scenes “everyday hero stories” along with hosted commentary and engaged social interaction with viewers from Tough Mudder personalities Eric “E-Rock” Botsford and Kyle “Coach” Railton.

Viewers will also be able to get in shape with weekly, live fitness classes streamed from Tough Mudder’s new fitness studio offering, Tough Mudder Bootcamp. Tough Mudder’s training expertise and fitness content is coveted by millions of people within the Tough Mudder community, as well as by active lifestyle enthusiasts around the world. The partner-based, 45-minute HIIT workouts are sneak peaks at what franchisees will be offering around the United States beginning in fourth quarter of 2017. Classes are centered around four fitness pillars: strength, power, agility and endurance.

“Tough Mudder has become a leading innovator of building sport around community. With our highly engaged global community of millions, Tough Mudder has excelled at delivering a unique, highly social way to consume live sports programming. With Facebook being the exclusive video platform for the Tougher Mudder Championship series, this partnership is a great complement to our linear video programming offerings and partners, and bolsters Tough Mudder as one of the leaders in the future of sports,” said Jerome Hiquet, CMO, Tough Mudder Inc.

Tougher Mudder Championship Series Programming

Oct. 7th             Tougher East, Englishtown, NJ

Oct. 21st            Tougher South, Mt. Pleasant, NC

Oct. 28th           Tougher West, Lake Las Vegas, NV

Nov. 4th             Tougher World Championships, Lake Elsinore, CA

About Tough Mudder:

Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder obstacle course event series, Tough Mudder Inc. has become a leading global sports, active lifestyle and media brand. With more than 3 million participants, the company hosts more than 130 non-competitive (Mini Mudder; Tough Mudder 5K, Tough Mudder Half, and Tough Mudder Full) and competitive (Tougher, Toughest, Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder) events annually in 11 countries including China, Dubai, Indonesia, and Australia through its partnerships with IMG, Seroja and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). The company’s content arm provides the more than millions of engaged online brand enthusiasts with fitness, nutrition and wellness content delivered daily across social and digital platforms. Tough Mudder broadcast, OTT and Live Stream programming can be seen worldwide through partnerships with CBS Sports, Facebook, Sky Sports, The CW Network and ESPN Media Distribution. Other sponsorship and distribution partners include Merrell, Amazon, Jeep, Aflac, Guinness, Vega, Samsung, Olympus, Lucozade Sport, Nexcare, For Goodness Shakes, Bosch, TREK, Head & Shoulders, L’Oreal Men Expert, Käserei Loose, Snapchat and Live Stream.

Media Contacts:

Angela Alfano

(703) 447-5629

Angela.Alfano@ToughMudder.com

Robert Zimmerman

(917) 543-1046

Rob@zimstrategies.com

Ethan Metelenis

(917) 882-9038

Ethan.Metelenis@ToughMudder.com

Spartan Race Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spartan, the World’s Largest Obstacle Race and Endurance Brand, to Bring Live Content to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Exclusive Facebook Live Streaming of Spartan Events Launches with 2017 Reebok Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe September 30

BOSTON, MA (September 21, 2017) – Blood, sweat, athleticism and pure grit will stream exclusively on Facebook’s new Watch platform thanks to a partnership between Spartan and Facebook. The partnership will feature live streaming of men’s and women’s obstacle races (OCR) through the 2017 Spartan season, kicking off with the Reebok Spartan World Championship September 30 and October 1 in Lake Tahoe, CA. The broadcasts will be dynamically produced with multiple cameras, drone coverage, graphic packages, audio commentary, replays, and behind-the-scenes content.

“Spartan draws some of the world’s most talented athletes to obstacle racing to battle technical terrain and punishing obstacles, which creates fierce competition that is unlike any other broadcast sport,” said Spartan COO Jeffrey Connor. “Producing live broadcasts of our races was a major focus for us in 2017 and an important part of Spartan and the OCR industry’s growth. Partnering with Facebook to stream our events exclusively on Watch will bring the action to sports fans across the globe, showcasing the pure grit of the fastest growing participation sport while helping Spartan spread its message of healthy transformation to a new audience of millions.”

In addition to broadcasting the race events, Spartan’s Facebook Live streams will feature interviews with competitors and major players in the industry along with a host of socially-driven content optimized for a mobile audience, including live-polling and real-time engagement. Spartan will also produce a weekly workout session exclusively for Facebook’s Watch platform. People can add this content to their watchlist by following Spartan LIVE.

“As a producer of lifestyle content that spans sport, nutrition and training, Spartan has more than five million Facebook followers and established television shows on NBC Sports Network and NBC primetime, which makes this partnership a natural next step as we expand our media programing,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “The live streaming broadcasts of our events this year received tremendous views, averaging more than one million for each, and as we expand our Championship Series to more than 30 countries across the world in 2018, we’re excited to grow those numbers globally as we work with Facebook.”

Spartan’s militaristic-style obstacle races push the bodies and minds of competitors to the limit across miles of unforgiving terrain while they conquer signature obstacles such as the spear throw, bucket brigade and barbed wire crawl. Spartan is a leader in transforming obstacle racing into a mainstream endurance sport, having been the first brand to feature timing, rankings and a Global Championship Series. The 2017 Reebok Spartan World Championship is the pinnacle event of the obstacle racing season and features a field of elite athletes from more than 50 countries battling the mountainous terrain at Squaw Valley during the 16-mile “Beast” race for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. This year’s event features a new World Team Championship, which will see coed teams of three from 25 countries facing off in a team-style competition.

Following the World Championship, Spartan plans to broadcast races in Atlanta (October 21), Dallas (October 28), Sacramento (November 11) and at AT&T Park in San Francisco (November 18), which is part of the Spartan “Stadium Series” that unfolds at the hallowed grounds of the most beloved ballparks across America.

ABOUT SPARTAN RACE, INC.
Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first in-sport to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2017, Spartan Race will attract more than one million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats. The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than five million passionate social media followers, health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and a popular NBC television series, which has made obstacle racing one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan Race events feature races at three distances, 3+Mile/20+ Obstacle “Sprint,” 8+ Mile/25+ Obstacle “Super” and 12+ Mile/30+ Obstacle “Beast,” culminating in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Visit http://www.spartan.com for more information and registration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan Fine, 781.248.3963, jonathanf@spartan.com

 

Tougher Mudder Nashville: Tall Grass, Muddy Fun, and Timing Issues

Change In Location for Tougher Mudder Nashville

Nashville usually hosts a Tough Mudder at Milky Way Farms, which has been the venue for many races, including the Warrior Dash and Warrior Dash World Championships.  This year racers got to visit a new cow farm in Lebanon, TN, for some not-as-hilly-but-still-stinky-cow-mud fun.

Negatives

I like to end with the positives, so allow me to start with what could have been better.

Check-in: I ran the Tougher Mudder (hence my title), and check in was slow moving.  There were many check-in lines, yes, but no one knew until he/she got to the front of the line that they were organized by last names, so there was much grumbling.  That being said, once the code was scanned, it was very quick.

Timing: It is very, very frustrating when the timing is messed up.  My time is over 15 minutes WRONG.  I contacted TMHQ several times but still haven’t received an answer.  I’m talking, they have me at 15 minutes SLOWER than I actually ran.  My watch isn’t official, no, but I have seen many time-stamped photos that say the same about times.  My time isn’t the only one that is wrong.

Finishing: There was really nothing.  A Tough Mudder finished, got a headband and a T-shirt, and walked away.  I had to find someone to report that I was done. I was then was told there was no podium, no timing tent, no winning money.  I’d have to wait for my times to be emailed (got them 12 hours later and they were wrong), and winners still haven’t received payment information.

Parking and bag check: $20 to park, which not everyone paid, and $10 to drop my bag on a table, just to find it buried later?

 

Positives

Volunteers:  The volunteers were STELLAR and I thanked every single one I ran past.  They were so helpful and treated all runners far better than the Tough Mudder event staff.

Course Markings: Sure, this can always be better, and more people should have been placed to ensure runners were going in the right direction, but it was fair.

Obstacles: There were a lot of water obstacles, and some were 100% new to me. Volunteers were thorough in explaining what to do and were also very encouraging.  The challenges went beyond the usual grip strength/run fast that I am used to.

Overall

What I thought would be a faster course was offset by the tall grass. This turned many miles into high knee drills.  It was a blast to run a competitive raced that required teamwork and individual push.  The new venue was easy to find and had super volunteers.

If Tough Mudder is serious about (suddenly) starting all these competitions for money, they need to be more organized and definitely need to handle the timing and money situation better.

Tough Mudders are always fun, and I viewed this as a training opportunity.  To win my first Tougher Mudder was cool, but the way the winners were treated (this is coming from talking to the 1st and 2nd place male winners and the 2nd place female, as well) needs to be handled much differently.

As always, big thanks to the volunteers, and because the Tough Mudder was my first ever OCR and it is what got me into OCR racing. I’ll always have one on my racing calendar!

 

 

Tough(er) Mudder Seattle 2017 Race Review

Initial Impression

Tough Mudder has returned to the Palmer Coking Coal Company venue just south of Seattle for the 6th year in a row, but this time they brought their new competitive wave: Tougher Mudder.  For an extra $20 on top of a regular registration, you could join the very first wave of the day which includes a nice yellow race bib, official timing of the 10-mile loop, and a chance at a small prize pool if you finish top 3 in your respective gender.

While I’m no stranger to Tough Mudder and other obstacle course races, this event was both my first attempt at a Tougher wave and my first time running at the Seattle venue.  While this particular race had its share of quirks (and a brutal, awful, no-good Mud Mile…), the overall experience was awesome and I would be excited to sign up for the event again in the future!

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Start-Line

The Start Line

Let’s start with one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had at an OCR start line.

It was the first wave of the first day of the event, so something like the generator tripping out causing the music to stop, and the large start line inflatable arch to deflate into the crowd can be expected, twice.  Even starting a few minutes late wasn’t a big deal, but the start line MC definitely left something to be desired for this first wave of the day.

For a competitive heat with prize money, you would at least expect a brief overview of the rules right?  Maybe a clarification on whether or not you were required to complete every obstacle, if there were penalty loops of any kind, or if any of the obstacles didn’t apply for the Tougher Heat?  Well, we got nothing like that.  This was particularly concerning when we arrived at the Everest obstacle in the middle of the lap where a volunteer was telling everyone that they weren’t allowed to help each other.  What?  That doesn’t sound like a Tough Mudder event at all, especially when some of the other obstacles required assistance from your fellow competitors to complete.

Anyway, we did get a few minutes trying to hype us up which went pretty well, but there was no national anthem and we didn’t even recite a Tough Mudder pledge.  The MC brought us into the middle of the start area to put our hands in and counted down for us all to chant “Tougher Mudder”.  And… surprise!  It turns out that same countdown was the one to start the race, so after we all looked around confused for a few seconds, the start of the pack took off and the rest of us followed.

Not far away from the start line, a fellow racer commented, “That was the weirdest start line experience ever,” and I would have to agree.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Map

The Terrain and Obstacles

This venue has a wide variety of different terrain and Tough Mudder did a great job of sending us up, over, and around just about all of it.  The start line opened up into a large field which is great when everybody is bunched up at the start but eventually led into some fairly technical single-track through the woods after the first obstacle, Kiss of Mud 2.0.  A theme on this course appeared to be that “mud” actually meant “rocky wet asphalt” and this barb wire crawl was one of the lowest I’ve done.  Rolling wasn’t even an option (and I think is against the rules anyway?) and almost everybody going through it was catching their clothing or bib on at least one barb.

After that we headed into a wooded trail where the single track opened up at a few different points to provide enough room for Skidmarked (inverted wall), Devil’s Beard (crawl under a cargo net with a sandbag!), and Berlin Walls (~10 ft walls with a kicker) before narrowing back up and eventually crossing over itself before we were able to head back out into open ground near the 2 mile mark.

After the course opened up, we approached a crowd-favorite obstacle, The Block Ness Monster, which involves two giant rotating rectangular prisms in a pool of water about 4 feet deep.  This obstacle requires a little bit of organized teamwork and despite this being a competitive race, everyone was super eager to help each other out.  We were able to alternate moving different people over the blocks and pulling down on the opposite side to help the next person over before moving onto the next block and eventually out of the obstacle.

Next up was Hero Carry which seemed odd for a competitive event, but we paired off and carried each other anyway.  Soon after was the obstacle I will probably have nightmares about: Mud Mile 2.0

Normally, Mud Mile 2.0 is a series of muddy trenches with water in them that you have to pull yourself over, step your way to the top of, or get some assistance from others to make your way through, but this was no normal mud mile.  As I alluded to earlier, this wasn’t “Mud” that we were navigating over, but rather a ground down and compacted asphalt-type material that would scratch your skin if you even looked at it the wrong way.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Mud-Mile

Add in the fact that they dug the trenches to be about 7-8 feet deep and only included a token amount of water at the bottom of each one and this made for one tough obstacle.  Not to mention they made us go down and back for a total of 16 trenches!  Luckily I arrived at the same time as a couple fellow mudders and we were able to team up to get through it.  We quickly worked out a system where two people would boost the first to the top, then one would boost while the person on top helped pulled the second person out, then both people on top pulled the third person out, then repeat, and repeat and repeat and repeat…

While it felt like we were pretty efficient by the end of it, Mud Mile took a lot of time and managed to scrape up any part of your body that was exposed while tiring out your arms a bit.  It was an interesting obstacle for a competitive race, but certainly, one that embodied the Tough Mudder spirit of encouraging teamwork.  For the waves beyond the initial Tougher wave, they modified the obstacle to only require going through each trench once which cut it in half, but it was still one of the toughest obstacles on the course.

Up until this point was relatively flat, but the course turned towards the larger hills of the venue which made for some interesting terrain based obstacles.  First was an Absail down a steep hill of very loose dirt with a help of a set of ropes.  Next, we came to Everest 2.0 which had the ropes down for the Tougher wave.  Even with the ropes, it’s tricky to navigate yourself over the rounded lip of the halfpipe, especially with a volunteer telling everyone they weren’t allowed to help each other.  I’m not sure if this was a miscommunication with Tough Mudder or a special rule for this obstacle on this course, but it seemed odd.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Elevation

Next, we navigated up the largest hill on the course right around the 4-mile mark.  The front half was very steep and required the help of a cargo net to reach flatter ground, but that “flatter” ground still kept going upwards until we eventually reached the back side of the hill for the second Absail obstacle of the course.  This one was even steeper than the first but wasn’t more difficult if you kept your hands on the rope and controlled your speed during the descent.

I also want to note that there was an awesome guy playing bagpipes throughout the course and he somehow managed to get on top of this huge hill with the bagpipes!  I certainly didn’t see any easy way to get up that hill, on course or not, so he’s a champ to have made the climb with bagpipes in tow.

Quagmire was the next obstacle but just ended up being a short trek through a shallow swampy area that was a couple feet deep, but not very muddy.  Finally to finish the first half of the course (or the entire course for anyone running the Tough Mudder Half that day) was Pyramid Scheme.  This slippery wall was made easy for the Tougher wave thanks to a set of ropes coming from the top.

The back half of the course wound its way through varying terrain including more wooded single-track, a portion through a wide open quarry-like area between huge piles of rocks, and some minor hills before eventually returning to the wide-open terrain that led back into Mudder Village and the finish line.  Obstacles seemed more spread out an in the second half and included:

  • Snot Rocket – A modified Augustus Gloop where you submerge your body before coming up to the bottom of a tall tube that you climbed a wooden ladder in while water was sprayed down on top of you.
  • Lumberjacked – Two elevated logs you had to navigate over
  • Black Hole – A very dusty crawl underneath large sheets of water that weighed down on you
  • Balls to the Wall – A tall wall climb assisted by a rope and wooden beams
  • Bale Bonds – Climb over bales of hay (Note: this obstacle was totally destroyed by the time the afternoon waves arrived)
  • Stage 5 Clinger – A tricky climb up an inverted wooden ladder before you have to pull yourself over and around to get on top of the obstacle and climb down the other side
  • Killa Gorilla – Simply navigated up and down the side of a steep hill 3 times, not much of an “obstacle”.
  • Mineshafted – This one was new to me and involved navigating down a long tube with the help of a rope.  This led to a mini-cavern that we then climbed out of using a large wooden ladder of sorts

The final three obstacles were some of the most fun that Tough Mudder offers starting with Funky Monkey The Revolution, a set of uphill monkey bars leading to a series of three wheels that must be held on to while they spin you to the next.  A good test of upper body strength over a green pool of water waiting to greet you if you fail.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Funky-Monkey

Next, we sprinted across a large field where we picked up a large bag of ice and carried it ~100 meters to Arctic Enema The Rebirth where we dumped the ice into the obstacle before following it down into the frigid water.  Not only was the water freezing, but they forced you to submerge your whole body to navigate under a small fence portion and a set of tires before finally being able to pull yourself out of the end of the obstacle.  If you weren’t awake up until this point in the race, you certainly are now!

Finally was a short jog over to Kong, a set of 5 rings suspended over a large airbag waiting to catch you like a movie stunt performer if you fall.  For the Tougher wave and any Tough Mudder Legionnaires, there was no electricity on the course as we were able to skip Electroshock Therapy while attempting Kong, which backed right up to the finish and Mudder Village.

Mudder Village

The Mudder Village at this venue was a little smaller than some others I’ve attended but still had its share of vendors selling products and handing out free samples.  There were plenty of restrooms off to the side with a large rinsing area and changing area behind.

My only complaint was the minimal selection of food options, especially as the village got crowded in the afternoon.  There were only two food trucks selling food and both had sizable lines.  I think I managed to choose the longer one in my attempt to get a burger, but it took an unacceptably long time to actually get my food.  About an hour and a half from getting in line to actually eating by my count which made for some grumpy people hovering around the food truck waiting on their orders.

While the food was slow, the beer garden was fast and there was no wait for the free beer once you made our way over there.

Verdict

Overall, this was a great Tough Mudder event and the small quirks here and there wouldn’t stop me from signing up again.  Doing the Tougher wave was a great experience and a chance to meet some awesome mudders both before and during the race, some of which have run dozens of events.  Plus, not having to wait at any obstacles was a nice change of pace from doing a wave in the middle of the day where lines begin to form.  In addition, knowing that we’re being timed is a great incentive to push myself even harder on the course, even if I don’t expect to find myself on the podium anytime soon.  If you have a chance to run a Tough Mudder in Seattle in the future, I recommend it.

 

Photo Credit:

  • Tough Mudder
  • My wife, Becky Bouillon