12 miles. 32 obstacles. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I signed up to take part in the Tri-State Tough Mudder 2011 in New Jersey. Well, actually, my friend had begged me to do it, and since I consider myself in-shape I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. I could definitely run 12 miles, and how bad could the obstacles be? Ha!
I cannot stress enough that Tough Mudder is NOTHING like your average marathon. While you should definitely have physical endurance to complete it, running the 12 miles is the easy part. It is getting through the obstacles that’s the tough part. And if you complete the entire course, well, you must be pretty badass.
Beginning the race, I felt confident. I’m a distance runner, so the first mile, which was basically just running and a few climbing obstacles involving nets and bleachers, seemed easy. In fact, I became so at ease that when I came to the Chernobyl Jacuzzi, I was complete unprepared. It appeared to be a seemingly harmless wooden pool filled with water and a wood blockade in the center.
“That sucks,” I said to my friend. “We have to get wet and it’s freezing out.”
It wasn’t until I jumped in and had my breath completely ripped from my lungs that I realized the pool wasn’t filled with water…it was filled with ICE water. Literally, the water was freezing, and I wasn’t just cold, I was in pain. In order to get to the other side you had to dive under the blockade, and by the time I had gotten to the other end (where there is no ladder, you must hoist yourself out), my limbs had completely stiffened and my strength was drained.
“Help me! Help me! I’m stuck! Get me out!” I began screaming, picturing my friends having to call for an ambulance to get me out. Luckily, they were able to pull my arms and lift my legs out.
While there were a few scary moments during the Tough Mudder Tri-State (and I will admit, I ended up skipping a bunch of the water events after my scary ice pool incident), there were many moments where complete strangers came together and helped each other do things they never thought were possible. For example, for one obstacle participants had to run up a half-pipe, jump, and hoist themselves onto the top (shown left). Obviously, this is nearly impossible to do on your own. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but with the other mudders egging me on, telling me I could, as well as helping to lift my legs to the top of the half-pipe, I accomplished the obstacle.
This was a common theme throughout the course, especially during net and fence climbing as well as trying to make it to the top of slippery and steep mud and water filled tunnels. After one person would get out, they would wait at the top and reach down to grab the hand of the person behind them to help lift them out.
There were also constantly people ahead of you shouting out strategies to help you get through the obstacles. At one point, there was a net held taught to the crowd that mudders had to crawl or belly through. As you try to move, the taught net pushed you to the ground as rocks and mud cut your legs. It fricken hurt, but I kept going as my mudder-mates shouted “You can do it! Just keep your head down and it’ll go quicker!”
While there were a lot of obstacles that sucked (running through fire, running with a tire, anything involving water), and a lot that were fun (crawling through mud filled canals, running up mud hills, anything involving getting covered in mud), there was one obstacle that I have mixed feelings about…Electroshock Therapy. It was the last obstacle before the finish line, and consisted of crawling through or running over haystacks where wires containing 10,000 volts of electricity shock you. They say only a few had the voltage in them, but despite being pressed like a board to the ground and slithering like a snake I still got shocked 3 times. It didn’t hurt, yet it didn’t tickle. It kind of just felt weird and uncomfortable and made your body spaz out. Either way, it was tough (but, you shouldn’t expect anything less from Tough Mudder).