Teamwork and Tough Mudder
There is no I in Mudder. There is a me but very few go in with that attitude. To start with, they don’t even time you. If you want to time yourself you can try to qualify for World’s Toughest Mudder. Most of us are in it for the challenge, to just finish in one piece. We stop and help a fellow Mudder because Tough Mudder is not a competition, it is a challenge.
In the case of this Tough Mudder I was on a team of people I had never met in person. I had “virtually” met the Pounders, a dedicated group of Boston-area hikers, back in January back when one of their own won an Eastern Mountain Sports photo contest. Since that time, many of us had talked online, swapped hiking stories, and shared pictures. They had invited me to join in on climbs and hikes but because of my shoulder surgery in March, I was never able to join them. Until now. Of course, never meeting in person made looking for them in the huge crowd at Tough Mudder a bit of a challenge. A little over an hour after dad and I arrived at Mt. Snow we found the Pounders. Ok, well they found us. After some hugs and high fives we hopped the starting wall and listened to the charismatic MC pump up the crowd, ourselves included.
At first some of the guys took right off. I hung back with Sunly, knowing full well how often we would be going up these ski slopes. We wondered if the boys decided that they were just going to go ahead and leave us behind even though they promised to stick together. True to form they were waiting for us at the top. This became a common theme, some would go ahead at times but we always met up to do obstacles together. That way we could cheer each other on and help each other out. Those who got through the obstacle first would shout back advice for the others waiting to go. The guys did a great job helping us girls over the Berlin Walls too.
The thing about Tough Mudder is that you don’t just help out the people you know, you help out complete strangers. Two miles into the course there was a medical emergency that shut down a section. There was no way to get around this serious incident. Our group was split like many others. Once the section was open again, the Pounders came back together. We also adopted a new member, Lisa. She got split from her group and we were more than happy to have a new member.
With the hot weather, there were plenty of people cramping along the course. Teammates and strangers would stop to help move people into the shade, stretch them, share their water, or offer up snacks. I split my Honey Stinger Organic Chews between a Pounder who was cramping and a stranger also cramping at the same location. They both had the bananas and water at the aid stations but it wasn’t enough. One of the stations was supposed to have Sharkies Chews but they claimed they were all out. When I asked about the multiple unopened boxes sitting there I was told they were for tomorrow. Since I was carrying a hydration bag with me I was able to carry my own energy snacks. For the people who didn’t and were told there would be energy snacks along the way this was a huge let down. On a hot day when taking in electrolytes was key to prevent cramping and passing out it was like a kick in the gut. It was kind of like Tough Mudder saying: “Sorry, you had a later start time so you miss out even though we told you there would be stuff along the way.” These complaints may sound harsh, but I’ve completed three other Tough Mudders and this sort of situation is definitely not what I’ve come to expect from this great organization.
The Pounders continued on and were happy any chance we had to get wet. The sickest Tough Mudder obstacle I have done to date was our mystery obstacle, Dark Lightening. Leading up to it, we were commenting on some weird noises we heard along the mountain. I thought it sounded like thunder. When we finally arrived we saw a large black box that had the warning signs about electric current. The volunteer’s advice was to just stay low. In we went, Army crawling on our bellies. Since the muck and threat of electric shock weren’t challenging enough, Tough Mudder decided to recreate a thunderstorm. There were sprinklers on to act as rain, electrical wires hanging down for lightening, and a light that would flicker on and off. At times, it was pitch black in there with only the sound of thunder echoing through the structure. The people I was behind came to a stop when it got black. They didn’t want to hit any wires and they weren’t completely sure where the exit was. Once the light flickered back on it was off to the races to get out of there.
After a third round of electrical wires we all made it to the finish. This round of hugs and high fives were well deserved. We worked together and as a team POUNDED out Tough Mudder. There’s nothing quite like strangers coming together to overcome a challenge… or a cold beer immediately after!