Tough Mudder was an interesting experience on a number of levels. Everyone that I asked, told me that it was going to be a breeze. I toyed with the idea of rucking the entire thing with six bricks, but having dislocated my shoulder a few times whilst stubbornly attempting to surf in California a month before the event, I was hesitant. Running it without my Camelbak HAWG was not an option though. I carried with me 1L of water; a few energy gels, gummies and Cliff Bars; a change of clothes in an OR dry bag, and a first aid kit.
My GRT buddy Deric and I joined a group of 5 others last minute and car pooled up to Mt. St. Louis. It was still a little nerve racking having never done a Tough Mudder event before regardless of what people were telling me. However the other teammates soon found after learning that Deric and I had no idea how long the course was and that we didn't train how seriously we were taking the event. I suppose part of that cocky attitude came from completing the GoRuck Challenge. It should be noted that when I say we didn't train, I suppose I should clarify and say that we didn't train specifically for Tough Mudder. Both Deric and I have our regular training schedules. They just didn't change in anticipation of the event.
What really surprised me was how many cars I saw in the parking lot when we got there. 90,000 people were going to be running the Toronto course over the weekend. That impressed me from a business standpoint, but disappointed me because I questioned how "tough" it could possibly be if that many people were expected to participate.
GRT members were out in full force if Facebook was any indicator. I even saw some familiar faces at the start! After standing for the national anthem and kneeling through a pep talk, we were off, and jogging up the ski hill. It only took about 50 meters before people started walking. My teammates pushed through, but it dawned on me, "I guess I don't HAVE to run". The first obstacle had us belly crawling under barbed wire and over rocks and mud. It was becoming very apparent that a lot of this event was going to be a lot of hurry up and wait. Run to an obstacle then wait in line to do it.
About half way through the event, we were climbing the hill again and I got a call from a teammate up ahead that she needed me. I sprinted up the hill and saw her tending to a man that was obviously dehydrated. I opened my bag, gave him a bottle of water and some Stinger chews to get some electrolytes and sugar into his body. I sat with him for a while and watched some life return to his eyes. I get that there are water and snack stations along the way, but this guy was a prime example of why I like to have things like this on me at all times. After a few minutes, he was up and good to go again. I was happy to help, and glad he was able to continue with his challenge.
We saw everything from wall climbs, to jumping off platforms into water. As well there were signs posted that told you to do push ups and wheel barrows. There were no sign of event staff which made it easy to not do it, but we did anyway with a smiles on our faces. Two of my favourite challenges were the fireman carry and log carry. I always feel tired after carrying someone over my shoulders, and love the challenge. For our log carry, we saw some people trying to find the smallest logs they could, we saw people trying to get as many of their buddies under a log as they could, and we saw a few people do what we did, which was find the biggest log we could and run instead of walk.
At the end of the challenge we all had big smiles on our faces and I was glad I participated. It was great seeing teamwork in action. I saw every body type at Tough Mudder, from Crossfit rip shows to people that were obese, but powering through. What was great was that there didn't seem to be any ego. Everyone was happy, and everyone was willing to lend a helping hand when someone needed one.
How tough was Tough Mudder? Personally I didn't find it much of a challenge. I only found two or three of the obstacles to be physically difficult. The rest was just, are you willing to get muddy…again. I wouldn't say that I'm out of shape, but I wouldn't say that I'm in great shape either. I don't have a gym membership, I don't run, and I don't lift weights. I love eating, and I enjoy a beer from time to time. That being said, if I were to start with the first heat ensuring that there weren't any line ups, and if I ran the ENTIRE thing, I'm sure I would have been shit show at the finish. And that's what it really comes down to. Tough Mudder is as tough as you want to make it. All of the obstacles are optional, so really you could just go for an 18km walk and get your orange headband and tshirt. Or if you wanted, you could sprint the whole thing and do your best to beat as many people as possible. At the end of the day I am glad that I can say I had a lot of fun. Tough Mudder was like a playground for adults and at the end they give you a beer. Who can say that doesn't sound like a good time?
• Gets you hungry to find bigger and tougher challenges!
• A great team building event.
• A lot of fun!
• Line ups before obstacles. We waited almost an hour to hop over a few snowboarding boxes and rails.
• The cold shower at the end was worse than "The Arctic Enema". We did Arctic Enema twice in actually! But I definitely wouldn't have taken that shower twice.
• They list over 20 obstacles, but some of them are really lame, like climbing over hay or crawling under tractors. As well, I LOVE log and fireman carries, but they seem more like filler than anything else.