Tough Mudder, if you haven’t heard, is a 10-12 mile obstacle course race. With more than 1.3 million participants since 2010, it has taken America, Canada, Europe and Australia by storm. An average of ten- fifteen thousand participants (70% of which are males) compete at each event. Coined as the worlds toughest obstacle endurance challenge, 22% of entrants do not finish. Why on earth would anyone, in their right mind, sign up for this?
The course is a mile short of a half marathon, which is tiring enough. Add to that, 20+ obstacles, combining water, fire, ice, electric shock and of course, mud. You will scramble, pull and grit your teeth through many of these. Sometimes, uncontrollably shouting out in shock, as your body hits element after element.
One of these obstacle goes through 70-80 thousand pounds of ice during a two day event. The Arctic Enema, likely deriving its name from the fact that you will get ice in places you would like to remain unnamed. The workers are continually pouring ice into a tank, keeping the water at a steady 34 degrees. That’s as close to freezing as one can get. As you jump in one end, you will hear shouts from onlookers, “DON’T STOP MOVING!” Too deep to walk in, you will start to swim, your arms wading through copious amounts of ice cubes. However, every fiber in your body, starts to seize up, as it rightly should. No longer taking commands, as you get to the middle, the thought of dunking under the tire in the middle, is even more paralyzing. Without another option, and the only thought racing through your mind is an escape from this tank, you will gasp and fully submerge yourself. But remember, your body is moving slower than you realize. You may get halfway under the middle, only to realize you have run out of air. Not only playing on physical strength, the panic that your body endures will call out your psychological endurance as well.
Before your body has a chance to warm up, you run onward, to a series of rings. You will see some participants effortlessly swing across, while others cling to one ring, trying not to fall into another pool of frigid water. This will depend on grip strength, and luck, as some rings are randomly greased. No wonder, only 30% of mudders complete this obstacle.
Mud mile will fall somewhere in the middle of your course. It is exactly as it sounds. 5,280 feet of hills, water pits and slippery slopes. You will be continuously crawling through sludge, not knowing if you next step will be a rock or a hole to fall into. As you scramble up a hill, your only choice is to awkwardly slide down the rocky descent. Straight into another pool of freezing water.
Being covered in mud, from head to toe, may be what makes this next obstacle so difficult. The “Everest” is a quarter-pipe, composed of 3 tons of plywood, constructed 15 feet high and 35 feet wide. Much too easy on it’s own, (insert eyebrow raise), workers douse the surface with soap, mud, water and any other lubricant they can find. The only way to reach the top is hit it at a dead sprint and hope to the heavens that you grab the ledge or an outstretched arm before you face-plant and slide back down.
One of the most feared obstacles, is Electroshock Therapy. Fifty feet long and set up with 1,000 wires hanging overhead, some carrying up to 10,000 volts of electricity. With any luck, your race will take place on a cold day, with wind gusts up to forty miles per hour. Add your soaking wet body to that equation and by the time you reach the last obstacle, you wont be able to feel your arms well enough to register an electric shock.
These are just a few of the obstacles, and they continue to come out with new and possibly worse, ones everyday. Did I mention people pay money for this? I could spend the rest of the afternoon, naming different reasons why you should hightail it in the other direction. But guess what? The accomplishment and fun, yes, I said fun, will far outweigh any and all of the cons.
True, this race is not for everyone. It may not be your idea of fun. It’s challenging. You will probably fall in mud countless times. You may fail at more obstacles than you succeed. However, there is a reason why it’s called an obstacle course, and not a race. There is no time clock, and there isn’t a first place prize. You’re completing the course on your own mental grit, for your own achievement. Your adrenaline will continue to surge throughout, as you tackle challenge after challenge. Pushing your body to, and possibly above, it’s limits. Which is why, crossing that finish line will feel so darn fantastic.
Tough Mudder is known for it’s comradery. Very few, if any, mudders complete the course, without help from their fellow teammates. Teamwork isn’t encouraged, it’s essential. Helping your friends through is one thing, but you will continually find yourself helping, and leaning on, a stranger’s hand. The atmosphere this provides is unlike any other. It will give you energy, strength and a put a smile on your face. At least, what you can see of one through the mud.