Tough Mudder UK Southwest 2017

 Tough Mudder South West UK 2017 – Badminton Estate

Last year, I joined a number of my work colleagues in my first ever Tough Mudder. I have always been skeptical about this event. I had previously taken part in two Spartan races, Invncbl, and some other minor obstacle course races in my area. For some reason, Tough Mudder had never appealed to me. I think I felt like I didn’t want to be tortured for a distance of 10 miles for a headband. But in the end, I mostly decided to take part because it was an excuse to do something ridiculous with a bunch of my friends.

 

All it took was the Kiss of Mud and I was hooked.

 

On the day, it actually took our team an unexpectedly long time to get through that first Tough Mudder, but I really felt that we took ‘team effort’ to a whole new level. At every obstacle, we waited for all of our crew to join us before moving on. From the Arctic Enema to Everest, we helped each other tackle the next nightmare whilst covered in mud and freezing cold (cheers Britain).

 

For weeks after, pictures circulated the office and we laughed at how epically we failed at some of the obstacles. We reminisced about how I got dropped on my back, how my legs cramped endlessly and how my manager almost chickened out of ‘Electroshock Therapy.’ It wasn’t long until I found myself wanting to do the whole damn thing again.

I thought everyone had shared my insane love of this form of torture. I was wrong. When the time came, I sent the obligatory chirpy email around the office attempting to recruit members for my team. Much to my dismay, big fat “no way!” responses were all I got.

Crap. I had spent the year training for Spartans and my ultras, thinking that I would be ready for Tough Mudder when it came to it… well at least I would be ready for a team challenge.  I slowly realised that I was going to have to go it alone.

Tough Mudder relies heavily on teamwork. This was something I had made great use of in 2016. And now, I would be going it alone. I hated the idea but was determined that despite my obvious lack of a team, I would do the race.

So the day came, I woke up bright and early ready for some mud.

Getting signed up for parking was easy (dare I say expensive, £10) Editor’s note: roughly $13 USD. Registration on the day was pretty simple, just filled in a few forms and was on my way. I was given a standby wristband as I wasn’t on a specific wave. So I took my time as there were waves leaving every 15-30 mins. I got in line for standby but wasn’t too impressed with the wait. We were in line for a good hour and a half before being let in. People in the ‘pig pen’ consisted of latecomers, those who were running the race again (absolute nutters), and those who were running for magazines or websites. Still, it took too long.

Finally, we got into a wave and took part in the obligatory workout and pep talk and pledge recital.

Then we were off!

If there is one thing that I have learnt from this year’s Tough Mudder, it was that I absolutely LOVE this stuff.

The course eased you into a grueling 10 miles of blood sweat and tears. It started with a short jog to ‘Skidmarked’ which really got us into the spirit of ‘leave no man (or woman) behind’.

On to Bail Bonds, Kiss of Mud, and Pyramid Scheme. The lack of helping hands at Pyramid Scheme made it difficult to do it properly. Was a bit disappointed. On the Hero Walls is where I really showed some grit. I was devastated last year to be dropped by a team mate. I made it up one wall this time. Small victories.

Arctic Enema came just after mile 3. For which I was eternally grateful. Plenty of time to recover, rather than be freezing cold.

Agustus Gloop or Snot Rocket (Legionnaires) were new to 2017 and were a heck of a lot of fun. Next came Devil’s Beard. I didn’t really get this one last time and still don’t (not my favourite).

Blockness Monster was just as fantastic as before, despite the water being just a little too deep for most people to even get a grip on the floor to help push it over. We relied heavily on the tall mudders to get it to the tipping point.

The Liberator, Birth Canal, and Lumberjacked. All solid obstacles. I didn’t stick around, I just got it done and moved on.

The course was very well planned out. 2016’s layout left a lot of next-to-impossible obstacles. In comparison, last year’s course was poorly planned out leaving many obstacles too slippery to have a good go at.

Last year,  Funky Monkey saw even the fittest racers fall at the first rung. This year was far more fun and more manageable that even I, EVEN I, got halfway across before face planting the water and almost winding myself. All part of the fun, hey?

‘Mud Mile’ was one of the highlights of my previous Tough Mudder experience. I loved every second this year but wished it was longer. Definitely was not a mile long – last year was longer. The racers really lived up to the Tough Mudder pledge in this one though. It was hard not to stop and help out your fellow mudders. Everyone really just wanted everyone else to make it to the end. My faith in humanity was restored.   

‘Hold Your Wood’ saw me joining forces with a team I was waiting in line with. What I really liked about this race was that despite me completing the obstacle with another team, there was no obligation on either party to then stick together. A quick chat, get the job done, a round of “well-done mate and good luck” and off they ran.

So, that was 9 miles down. 1 mile to go. I was getting TIRED.

With just Hero Carry, Everest, and Electric Shock left, I was getting worried. Everest was my nemesis from last year. It was one of the few obstacles that I just could not do no matter how hard I tried.  The Hero carry came and went without too much trouble, and although I wasn’t looking forward to it, I knew I could do Electro Shock Therapy.

But Everest…. I didn’t want to stand in line for 20 minutes, freezing and covered in flies, to try countless times to then have to walk around, ashamed of myself. As I rounded the corner from the Hero Carry I could see it. Thank goodness there were no queues and I had well and truly dried off from the epic face plant at Funky Monkey. I was ready for this.

Took a decent run at it, reached two hands (yes), held on (YES), swung my leg up and some other tough mudder (an absolute legend) grabbed it and pulled me up. YES!!!! I was beyond ecstatic (cue the awkward fist pump to myself – but I didn’t care). I ran up the final straight toward the finish line grinning like a goon. Just one more obstacle to go.

I had a choice, as a legionnaire I could choose Kong or Electroshock Therapy, I knew at this point my arms were shot and if I failed the last obstacle I would be devastated so I took on Electroshock Therapy instead. As I ran through I thought, “Dammit, should have done Kong!” I regretted calling all my teammates wimps last year for avoiding Electroshock Therapy last year. This round nearly floored me. I started running and got a shock that propelled me into a hay bale (in the course I might add). Face full of mud I straightened up only to get a shock in the face. These pictures are going to be incredible. Only a couple more strides to go. Inches from the finish, I sucked it up and rubbed some dirt in it. Crossed the line and was presented with some well-deserved rewards.

This Tough Mudder was definitely 10 miles of blood (bloody elbow), sweat (so much sweat) and tears (promise, there was just some mud in my eye). Epic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Tough Mudder and Author

T. Rex takes on Tough Mudder

Earlier this summer, I saw a video that Tough Mudder posted of a very special competitor who took on the Tough Mudder Half on Long Island. Tough Mudder prides itself on opening up its challenges-not-races to people of all ages, but I was surprised to see that their newest Mudder was someone I had thought had been extinct for over 65 million years: Tyrannosaurus rex.

T. rex at Tough Mudder

Apparently I was wrong. Our friends at TMHQ hooked us up with their dinosaur pal for an interview. Here’s how it went:

ORM: So, T Rex, when did you first try obstacle course racing? Was your first race a Warrior Dash, or was it something earlier, like jumping over stegosauruses and dodging that giant meteor that wiped out all the other dinosaurs?

T. Rex: My first event was surviving extinction and that was just preparation for Tough Mudder Long Island this year at Old Bethpage in New York. I’m used to extreme climate changes and it was HOT at the event so I was prepared for that and definitely hydrated beforehand.

ORM: What sort of training do you do for races? Is it trail running with velociraptors plus a little CrossFit?

T. Rex: I train with my fellow dinos; it’s the only way to get through it. We do a mix of cardio and circuit training leading up to events and partner workouts so we can get ourselves into the teamwork mindset. Trail running is our favorite because it helps you prepare for the Tough Mudder course — plenty of hills, mixed terrain, mountains and deep woods.

ORM: Do other dinosaurs team up at these races? I think I saw you posing with a brontosaurus once, but maybe you just bumped into each other in the festival area.

T.Rex: I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen many other dinosaurs at other events besides Tough Mudder, and that’s the first obstacle course I’ve done. [editor’s note: oh really, my dinosaur friend? See below] Any dinosaurs are always welcome to join my team at Tough Mudder though; that’s what those events are all about. I’m happy to give a hand (claw?) to any fellow dino or fellow Mudder.  It’s actually more difficult than you’d think to drink a post-Mudder Shock Top with these short arms though. Funnelling is best.

ORM: Are there any obstacles where being a dinosaur really helps?

T. Rex: I’m not that graceful of a dinosaur, and with my short arms, King of Swingers was pretty tough to grab hold to and reach that bell. I’ve been training though, so next time I’m going for it. My favorite obstacles were Everest and Pyramid Scheme; my height made it a fairly easy climb and I was able to help a lot of people. Being cold-blooded is obviously an advantage for that infamous Arctic Enema obstacle. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a terrible mental challenge — I’d almost rather face another meteor…

At this point, T. Rex got distracted and started running after what I think was prey, but maybe he just spotted another survivor of the late Cretaceous period and wanted to say hello. The crowd of people who ran away screaming probably just misunderstood his enthusiasm. Either way, great training, right?

I wanted to ask a few more questions, because, as with so many OCR athletes, getting a taste of the sport at Tough Mudder seems to have led him to try other races. I’m pretty sure I spotted him in a YouTube video at a race in New Jersey this summer (can any reader find the video?).  And perhaps you saw him on American Ninja Warrior? ). As the announcer said: “this predator is eating up the course”.

The last place I would have expected to see T. Rex would be a Spartan Race because, as we all know, T. Rex hates burpees.

And yet, Spartan Race published this photo.

T. rex at Spartan Race

But that’s probably a fake. It looks like he’s posing with a healthy young racer and Godzilla. And we all know that Godzilla is totally made up.


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WTM First Thoughts

First Thoughts-Part I

The final rules, regulations, and awards came out for the 2013 World’s Toughest Mudder yesterday and the OCR world is buzzing with what’s on deck this year.

The item getting the most attention is this year’s short course. Tough Mudder has decided to take a different approach this year producing a course that is only 5 miles in length. In previous years, the course was closer to 10 miles.

According to the Event Instructions Packet “The course this year has been designed with a focus on rapid obstacle completion and more frequent laps with the intention of making the course more focused on all around athletic ability over straight endurance.

We spoke with a few athletes today to get their first thoughts.

Amelia Boone 2012 – World’s Toughest Mudder 1st place female

I’m excited-time to mix things up. Only fear is potentially having to go through electricity twice as many times. Can’t be good for anyone.

Justin Deiter 2011 & 2012 -World’s Toughest Mudder 2nd place male

I could care less about the length of the track or the number obstacles on it. I see a start and a finish. And the opportunity to do something exceptional in- between. Best wishes to all and may the best man… or woman win.

Margaret Schlachter -Team Shark School

The shorter course at world’s toughest mudder definitely changes strategy going into the race. A five mile course Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 11.00.33 AMwith more obstacles creates different muscle fatigues quickly as well as more time spent in the pit. From doing other lap races pit time can eat away at race time. However at the end of the day it’s still 24 hours and still the best overall endurance athletes will win, those that can endure the obstacles, distance and elements.

Jason Gidusko – Team Lords of Coventry

As a team we were not really fazed by the change, we have adjusted strategy to compensate for the changes in the course and awards structure. Weather will still play a large role in the event. The short course will provide for an intense environment that I’m sure spectators will enjoy. One thing I personally don’t look forward to is the potential of being shocked twice as much as in prior World’s Toughest Mudder races.

Joshua Grant – Team BostonStrongmen

Im cautiously optimistic that the obstacles really will be bigger and badder making the mileage more difficult to come by, and I sincerely hope they will still make us cold again and again.

Sean Meehan – Team BostonStrongmen

I’m concerned about bottlenecking. As far as obstacle heavy and shorter distance that’s not a problem 24 hours is 24 hours but if you’re trying to push for mile awards then bottlenecks will certainly slow that up. This could be interesting or a huge disaster. I’m afraid that if it’s a huge disaster and under built this may be the last year for WTM.

Morgan McKay – 2013 Spartan Ultra Beast 1st place female

I think it will be a cluster f* with all the people, but will be a great advantage for me. I was like whattttt at first, but I think it’s going to be good for me. My strength has always been obstacles

Morgan won this year’s Spartan UltraBeast which Amelia Boone chose to pass on. I asked Morgan her thoughts on facing Amelia at this year’s World’s Toughest Mudder. She told me “I respect her as an athlete, but first place isn’t reserved for her. I believe with hard work and determination, there will be a new winner, and my dream is I will take it.”

Gauntlet thrown.

 

First Thoughts-Part II

Junyong Pak – 2011 and 2012 World’s Toughest Mudder Champion

I love that this event will become even truer to obstacle form. We caught a glimpse of it at the Spartan World Championships… nobody is going to step into our house and simply run away with it. All the frauds will be put on trial.

Deanna Blegg –  2012  World’s Toughest Mudder 2nd place female, 3rd overall

Adventure racing teaches you to be ready for anything. We often don’t know what the race entails until the day before or sometimes even the morning of the event. 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 mile lap. It doesn’t matter. It is still a 24hr event.

Bryce Wilk – 2012  World’s Toughest Mudder 6th place male

The plan is not to beat Pak, but to push myself to the limit and to never stop moving. The simple plan is to go farther than anyone else.

Mandy Baskin– 2012  World’s Toughest Mudder 3rd place female, 20th overall

I think the course change could swing either way. From a competitor and spectator standpoint, this has the potential to really increase the excitement and intensity, which is a bonus for everyone. Win win. From a Mandy standpoint, I’m really going to miss those peaceful, cold, dark miles in the woods and swamp. But that’s just me . Plus, it might get really boring meeting the same people over and over again on course, although I’m so bad with names, people could make a really fun game out of that. I’m famous for re-introductions.

Corinne Kohlen

I like the short course except for that it means double the electrocution. The more obstacles the better, especially for me. Also being able to pit more frequently will be mentally a relief and will give more chances to change out layers and get adequate nutrition. I’m on a team this year which is a first for me, we have three WTM veterans and 1 newbie. There are a lot of strong teams out there but I think our chances of winning are good, I think we will be on the podium and hopefully surprise some people. One thing is for sure, our competition will be tough, it will be a fight, AND the race itself will be tough. Third times a charm and I’m going out fighting.

Stay on top of all of this year’s action at World’s Toughest Mudder right here.