Definition– “Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces to test your all around strengths, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie” this is what is stated on the Tough Mudders homepage.
And they’re right!
I signed up January 29th, a few weeks after receiving an email from a coworker who did this the previous year, (she flew all the way to Texas to do this). My first thought was no way, thats crazy, and I could never do that. After some convincing from Brent, I thought why not? Its about camaraderie and maybe I could do this.The last two months I wasn’t really sure how to train, but I figured that 12 miles is just short of a half marathon, so running would be a good start. I couldn’t even run 3km two months ago, now I can run 10 without stopping.
Hiking was also something that we figured would be good for training, we had heard that we’ll be hiking up a double black diamond for 2 miles, so the Grouse Grind would be a great way to train for that.
OK, its game day! We (Brent- my husband, Andrew- my brother and I) headed up to Whistler Friday, got all settled in our condo, and went to walk around the village. We were hyped and the Village was pretty full, after all 15,000 people where doing the Mudder on Saturday, and another 4,500 on Sunday. We decided to stay in for dinner (since we had our own kitchen) and carb load. The forecast was for rain, we were all pretty nervous, Brent and I went out and bought some under armour shirts, we really were hoping & praying for sun. But the news, weather apps and everything that we could turn to to check the weather said rain.
Our start time wasn’t till 10:30 and I was quite happy to be able to sleep in till 8am. We woke up with clear, blue skies!! Thank you Lord! We still decided to wear the under armour, get all dressed in our team outfits have a quick breakfast and head up to the shuttle pick up. I was starting to get nervous and scared, but I always seemed to have a smile on my face, after all it wasn’t raining! We loaded onto the bus and made out way to Olympic Park (I’ve never been up there before, but its beautiful!) we got off the bus, walked what felt like forever to get to the registration, handed in our death wavers, got our bib numbers and met up with our team. After checking in our bags, a few quick stretches, it was time to start.
The energy is everywhere, from the Start line MC, music, groups cheering, hoorah being yelled, you couldn’t help but feel this excitement, and get pumped. Before you even start you have to get over a mini Berlin wall (maybe only 6 feet tall) this is just the start of the teamwork, we all got over the wall one at a time, on the other side of the wall was the start line. With maybe 400 people on our wave, we sang O’Canada, said the Tough Mudder Pledge, and where off.TM Pledge
Our first obstacle was called the Death March this was a 2 mile up hill run/walk, before we really hit another obstacle. I didn’t really remember it feeling like 3.2kms, but I guess it was. Adrenaline was pumping and our group was together. Then we hit our second next obstacle
(#2) Kiss the Mud right away TM wanted us to get into the mud, by crawling under longs, and us keeping our bodys down low enough so we don’t hit the barbwire. And to get us wet, there was someone with a hose spraying us, and making the obstacle even more muddy, and us cold. This is where most of our knees started to get scraped, and we had minor cuts along are forearms.
After the group was out, we started our run to the next obstacle. It wasn’t a long run, maybe half a km till the Artic Enema (#3) this one I heard was cancelled, and this was one of my fears, cold water and having to dunk my head. Brent and Andrew went ahead of me, and Elaine and I were going to go together, we both jumped into ice cold green “toxic” water, the shock hit me, apparently I had a look of total panic on my face. I was standing in water up to my chest, could see ice floating around, people are cheering, my teammates are cheering me on, Elaine didn’t even think twice and went under the obstacle and popped up on the other side. I was shaking, I dont know if it was from the ice cold water or pure fear, I just remember Mercedes cheering me on (of course the rest of my team was too) but I was looking at Mercedes, and she told me that I could do it, so I counted to three, plugged my nose, felt with my other hand where I needed to go and dunked under the obstacle. I popped up the other side with a white face (this is as per Brent) I couldn’t catch my breath, I couldn’t barley even swim (I think that the water level got alot deeper and I couldn’t stand) there was someone there, no idea if he was a volunteer or another TM’er he helped get me out, and I climbed down, was unable to see (my contacts had moved) but happy with myself, my other teammates who were done this obstacle gave me a huge hug and told me to move my legs and to NOT stand still. Once everyone completed this, we were off.
(note pictures with TM logo on the bottom right hand side are property of Tough Mudder and I did not take them)
(#4) Log Bog Jog after finishing the Arctic Enema I was wanting to run, and get warm, the sun was out and I could feel the warmth from it, the next obstacle was Log Bog Jog, this was running over large huge logs that were slippery, it actually reminded me of something that I would do as a kid, try to balance on logs. Anyways, it was fun, and didn’t really require much effort from me.
(#5) Walk the Plank was cancelled due to winter weather conditions, this was also scared me, a 15ft jump off a plank into ice cold water, no thank you and I was happy that it was cancelled. Then we hit our first Berlin Walls (#6) it was 8″ high, with a little step to help you near the bottom of the wall, Brent straddled the wall to help pull us up, and Tiffany was at the bottom of the wall to help us reach Brent and Andrew was on the other side to help get us down. After we got over the wall, we looked and there was another within 20 feet to get back over. Good Teamwork guys!!
Almost right away there was the next one, (#7) Devils Beard was this little hill that you had to climb, made out of snow (anywhere’s else this is made out of hay) with a cargo next on top of you, the trick is to do it as a team so you can all carry the weight.
Once again there wasn’t that long of a run till the next obstacle, (#8) Bushwhacked this one was pretty slippery, going down what would be equivalent to the Grouse Grind but without the steps, and the officials sprayed water on it before hand to make it even more muddy and slippery. It was about a km downhill, and at the end you either had to make a large jump over a ditch, climb into it, or just run. I decided to just climb into it.
I dont think I really realized how high we were up on the mountain, but once we completed the Bushwhacked we were around snow, and lots of it. We had to run on top of it, this it’s self seemed to be quite funny to me. We ran, not sure if you can really call it that, more like slipped our way for almost 2kms in the snow. Since the sun was out, it was melting the snow and everyone was slipping. I just laughed the entire way. I guess you had to be there.
After the “run” in the snow we had (#9) Glacier this required us to climb up a cargo net about 10-12 feet, I actually enjoyed this one, although my fingers were pretty cold, and numb. Actually I don’t think that I even got the feeling from my fingers back from the Arctic Enema.
We had approx another 1-2km run until the next challenge, we continued to be in the snow and slipping away, once again I was just laughing with every slip that I had, I got really good at catching my balance and actually never fell. We came across (#10) Boa Constrictor – this one tested peoples claustrophobia, since I never really had this fear, what really bothered me was the ice that we were cawing on, our keens were already sore from some of the pervious challenges but hey, there’s no whining in Tough Mudder.
The next challenge/obstacle was the (#11) Snow Ramp even typing this one makes my heart race. My coping with the Artic Enema wasn’t the best, so with this one, I decided to opt’ed do the optional route. To slide down the frozen ice and land in slush that went upto my knees. On the way down I lost control of my speed and flew down the hill, hitting my bum every now and then trying really hard to stop myself with my hands, and landed in slush. (Still had a smile on my face!) Why? Because this was better than the actually challenge. Three of us did the optional route, and we were the ones who helped our teammates come out of the glacier water (Brent and Andrew also helped- they were the first ones who did the Snow Ramp)
To warm up, we ran for what felt like forever, I think we were on mile 6 at this point, because when we passed a water/toilet/banana station they said that we were half way (I didn’t clue in that we were at the 6 mile mark, just half way…. you’ll understand why I say this later). Mile 7 and 8 were hard. I just remember being mentally exhausted, my legs were sore but I was still able to jog, but my mental health was tired. I had no idea how many obstacles we had done, couldn’t remember which ones were left, and the sun was behind the clouds. I had no idea how long we had been out there for, and really didn’t what to know. Sometimes its just better not to know.
We hit challenge (#12) Spider Web this was to climb up a cargo net (I think it was possibly 8 feet tall) however, there was possibly 10-12 guys and girls who had stopped to pull the next down to make it only 5 feet, after I crossed over it was my turn to relive someone and hold the net down. Great Camaraderie guys!!
Again we had another 2-3km run to the Berlin Walls #2 (#13) these walls were even higher than the previous walls, now 9″ high, with the step being in the same place, our tactic had to change. Andrew, very kindly donated his shoulders for us. Brent once again straddled the wall, Andrew and Tiffany helped boost us up, then we stood on Andrew’s shoulder (some used his head as well) Brent helped pull us up, then we had to climb down, and there was a few guys from another team to help get some of our team down (enough of us so we could help our team). And once again, when we thought we were done, we turned around and saw another wall. Thanks Andrew for donating your shoulders and head for the team!
To be continued…..