Tough Mudder is a 10 to 12 mile military-style obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces that’s held in various places around the world. And I voluntarily signed up for it. Well, in reality, I was bullied into signing up for Tough Mudder Wisconsin months ago by my good friend, the military veteran who did a tour of Iraq and who’s already competed one Tough Mudder. I had already committed to a half marathon, so I thought, Screw it! I’ll be in shape by then. What have I got to lose? Nothing. It turns, out I was actually right.
While the website is totally intimidating, and it’s true that you have sign a death waiver, the event is seriously fun. That’s right. I said it. F-U-N. I was on a team with six people (Odin’s Raven for the win!) and they are what made the event memorable. It’s all about helping each other get to the end. You’re not going to climb over a 10 foot wall on your own, right? That’s what your teammates are for. To put a firm hand on your ass and push you over. And if they can’t do it, a stranger from another team will. In fact, two of my own teammates were strangers — friends of friends I met that day. By the end, I felt like we were close buddies.
The event is not timed, and participants are encouraged (multiple times!) to skip any obstacles that they don’t want to do. It’s simple to walk around any obstacle (there’s about 25 of them) on the course. I’m insanely claustrophobic so I skipped the obstacle where you had to crawl through slender plastic tubes filled with muddy water and rocks, called The Boa Constrictor. (Looking back, I should have just done it, but whatever.) I’m also not that great at holding my breath underwater, but I forced myself to jump off the 15-foot high wall into water, take on the Underwater Tunnels (floating barrels that you had to swim under), and Arctic Enema (the flipping freezing cold ice bath with a nice wall in the middle that you also had to swim under). I even ran smiling through the Electroshock Therapy — the final obstacle where live wires with 10,000 volts dangle from a 15-foot long wooden archway just a few muddy steps from the finish line. I only got shocked once and I stayed on my feet. (Tip: SPRINT fast with high knees. That mud is slippery, but you don’t want to army crawl slowly through this obstacle like many people do. You will get shocked more often, and it will be worse.)
You can walk the whole time and no one will judge you — it just might take you a long time. Our course was a little over 11 miles (a half marathon is 13.1). We ran the majority of the time, were all fairly athletic, and it took us 3.5 hours. I believe the starting and stopping is harder on your body, so I preferred to jog the whole time and stay flexible. My muscles were cramping up by the end.
The only obstacle that sucked was the Electric Eel. We had to army crawl through the mud with live wires dangling inches above our head. I got zapped three times. I screamed the first two times — I got shocked on my foot and was NOT expecting it — but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I think.
On that note, sign up for Tough Mudder today! You’ll love it.
P.S. The event isn’t cheap, but it benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.
Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.