Conquering the Tough Mudder
Take Mt. Snow and inject steroids into it. The end product is Tough Mudder New England. It is self described as “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet.” So why choose to put yourself through 10 miles and 28 obstacles designed by the British Special Forces? I totally blame my friend Steve for this. He did Tough Mudder New Jersey as a way to train to get ready for Army Basic Training. Lindsey and I decided that we too could do the Tough Mudder. After all back in November when we decided to do this the course was only 8 miles and 19 obstacles. I was drawn to the challenge. As a former college athlete I was looking for something to train for. I liked the idea that this wasn’t about your finishing time rather just finishing and working with others. It is also a huge fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. Plus, the child in me wanted to play in the mud.
As the course morphed into a beast our team grew in size. We became the Habitat Mudders in honor of our work with Habitat for Humanity. Three of us (Lindsey, Bill, and I) also work at the Eastern Mountain Sports in Waterford. I am not going to name names but a certain team member did no training for this event. Bad choice. Lindsey and I trained by doing runs in the area of varying lengths from 3 miles up to 9 miles. On our longer runs at Bluff Point State Park we would stop at benches and do dips and pushups. We both also got pull up bars for our houses. Throughout the winter we did some hiking in New Hampshire for all those up hills. I was feeling so good about myself, I had never run more than a 10k before and now I was doing 9 mile runs on trails. About half way up the second obstacle at Mt. Snow, the Death March, I decided if I do the Tough Mudder again I really need to train more. My positive feelings about my training quickly disappeared and I realized that they lied to us about a 2.5 hour average finishing time.
I do need to backtrack a little bit. After getting our bib numbers and having our number written in permanent marker on our forehead (you know, just in case anything happens to you and you lost your number, they want to be able to ID you) I decided to take part in the celebrity keg toss. This is one of the activities that they have at the finishing area. They have cardboard cutouts of celebrities for you to try to hit. I thought to myself, I used to throw the hammer and 20lb weight, so why not a keg. In true hammer form I took it on and with a bounce I got Justin Bieber. This caused me to be a little bit of a celebrity with guys coming up to me along the course and giving me props for my throw. This also tweeked my back a little bit. Whoops. So back to that course. It was covered in mud. They had set up the snow making guns to spray us and make it very muddy. Before we hit mile 1 we were wet and our feet were covered in mud. It was the Tough MUDder after all. Our strategy became to walk the up hills (as if hiking) and run the down hills. This worked very well for us, while other people were cramping up on the ups and complaining about their legs for the downs we were in hiking mode. Trudging through the mud reminded me of wearing my plastic mountaineering boots with snowshoes on. As much as I want to talk about all the obstacles I will just hit a few memorable ones. I drew first blood on the Boa Constrictor. This was crawling through tunnels into and out of water. Lots of rocks cut up my knees and elbows. My self-mutilation continued when we had to crawl under the barbed wire. This also caused full body mud. The coldest obstacle was crossing a 200ft. snow making pond that was about 35 degrees. Ropes were set up to get you across but they were pretty slack and you ended up to your chest in water. Oh, they also were blasting you with another snowmaking gun. That was the beginning of the water. I have to admit that I had to close my eyes to jump off the plank 15 + feet up over another warmer (45 degrees) snow making pond. The easiest obstacle to me was the Glacier. We had to climb up and over a large mound of snow. Winter hiking anyone? I was proud of myself for not needing any assistance on that one. Speaking of needing assistance, what do you do when you come up to a 12 foot wall you need to go over? Well you find some strong looking guys, you go up to them, and ask in your nicest voice for assistance (I think it helped that Lindsey and I had cute skorts on too). The guys hoisted us up and then I proceed to flop over. Now if you have ever flopped down from 12 feet up, it hurts. Luckily there was some mud so my flop became a slop. There was always someone there to ask me if I was ok and offer a hand. The camaraderie was awesome. Any time anyone fell someone asked if they were alright. Strangers helped each other over obstacles. After all it wasn’t about your time, it was just about finishing. With 80% men taking part Lindsey and I got a lot of cheers from spectators. Finally, the finishing line was in sight when we got to the obstacle that was by far the most fun, Greased Lightening. Think giant slip and slide. I missed the advice to slow yourself down and just sped down and into the “pool” at the end. Although it was a fun obstacle the whole point of it is to get you soaking wet (ok we were wet already) to go through Electroshock Therapy. That’s right they have live electric wires carrying up to 10,000 volts that you have to go through to get to the finish line. I covered my head and sprinted as much as one can sprint after 10 miles of madness. I didn’t feel any shock but I might have been too numb to notice. Four of the six Habitat Mudders finished together crossing the finish line holding hands at just under 4 hours. We were crowned with our orange headbands and went right into an exhausted group hug. We showered, changed, and went back to Greased Lightening to cheer our final two team members to the finish. Amanda, Laura, Amy D, Bill, Lindsey, and I were now officially Tough Mudders!
If you ever want to do the Tough Mudder I highly recommend wearing Darn Tough Socks. I mean what sock could be better to do a Tough Mudder in then a sock called Darn Tough. After 10 miles, being wet and muddy for 4 hours, and having almost 14,000 feet of elevation change I didn’t have a single blister. In fact my feet actually felt great (the rest of my body, not so much). Lindsey, Amy D, and I wore the Quarter Mesh Socks in Team DTV color and I believe this was one of the best choices we made. Another great choice was using my Sealline See Pouch to protect my camera. It was fully submerged multiple times, crawled through mud, had maple syrup poured on, flop over walls, and went through live electrical wires. My camera is still alive and well. Sarah, our Cascade Design rep recommended it and I just want to thank her for her advice.
So if you too want to test your toughness go to www.toughmudder.com and check out when they will be around again. Perhaps we can get an EMS team together for New Jersey in November and raise some big money for the Wounded Warrior Project?