(Last updated on: 10/12/2020)
When I asked people to join my ‘team’ for the London South Tough Mudder 2015 I had one of two reactions-
1) That sounds amazing (but I’m busy)
2) Why on earth would you want to do that?
A few weeks after signing up, I began to realize what I had let myself in for. This post gives the reasons for and against undertake this unique obstacle course, if you’re considering signing up don’t take the decision light-heartedly!
5 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Did Tough Mudder
1) It got me into shape. I have never been so fit or so healthy, it’s a 12 mile run you know, half of which you will do soaking wet or covered in thick mud, or quite likely both! You will be battered and bruised and emotionally scarred- if you didn’t train I can assure you that you wouldn’t reach the finish line! In preparation I did a colour rush run (a very girly, mild 5k race with inflatables and lots of coloured paint). Although I was significantly better than the average runner (generally people were middle aged and at least two dress sizes larger than me), I didn’t find it a breeze. In fact, my fiancé (now husband) told me he was worried that I wouldn’t cope with tough mudder. I thought to myself ‘I’ll prove him wrong!’, and I did! I also climbed the highest mountain in North Africa whilst travelling in Morocco last summer- all as preparation for the Tough Mudder endurance!
2) I had an incredible sense of achievement. It really was tough, I won’t lie to you, but the feeling of elation as I reached the finish line was like nothing else I’ve experienced before. There was one particular obstacle called King of the Swings that I did and was so proud of myself. I’m afraid of heights and not a very strong swimmer, despite this I climbed the 4 meter ladder and leaped out towards the T bar, grabbed on to and swung for my life before dropping into a freezing cold muddy pool of water. I was the only girl that did it at the time and it did make me feel really tough! This was probably the obstacle that had the most people try to skip it.
3) It was fun. You perhaps might question my definition of fun, but honestly, I did actually have a great time! I wanted a challenge, one that would help get me into shape before my wedding (I’m sure most brides can empathise with me on that one), but I didn’t want to do something that wouldn’t motivate me. My sister recently ran a half marathon and I am really proud of her for doing it, but that kind of thing just isn’t for me. Running for hours would be boring for me, and I would become fixated on how much my legs hurt or how tired I am. Tough Mudder however was really exciting, you never knew what was around the corner, which obstacle would be next, how long you might stay dry for. From carrying heavy logs, to climbing a human pyramid to crawling through mud under barbered wire, there was never a dull moment! Despite feeling exhausted and having a few minor injuries, you didn’t have time to think about this, by the time you got over the last obstacle the next one would be appearing in the distance!
4) I’ve never seen camaraderie like it in England. Lets face it, we’re not the friendliest of people, many of us, especially in the south, don’t know our neighbour’s names, only say hello to people to be polite and do not look anybody we don’t know in the eye! Well Tough Mudder brought out a side of people that I would expect to see in America (where they are a lot more friendly!) than I would in England. There were several obtacles that you simply couldn’t do without the help of strangers. As a team of two (Philip and I) we couldn’t make it over some of the fences or the human pyramid, or the final hurdle- Everest- without the help of others. People would take your hand, grab your legs and even let you stand on them- the atmosphere was fantastic. It was also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with Philip; he works two jobs and I have a new job and a PhD to work on so our time spent together isn’t always that regular or of that higher quality as we’re constantly knackered!
5) I like to do extraordinary things. I am not your average girl in her late twenties, and Philip isn’t your average guy in his early thirties (sorry for pointing that out Philip!). When many people would have spent their summer holiday laying on a beach, we fought our way into Israel at the height of the war, despite all flights into the country being cancelled! When most brides organise chocolate fountains or sweet stalls for a treat for their guests during their wedding reception, I imported cockroaches and tarantulas from Thailand for a ‘bush tucker trial’ session (I will write more about this in the coming weeks)! When other people chill out in the evening watching TV and relaxing, I am planning my next trip, writing a chapter for my PhD, writing a book or updating my blog- no rest for the wicked. So hopefully you can see that I am not your average girl, so why would I undertake your average race? Tough Mudder was unique, challenging, exciting and different- it was much more me than your average run!
5 reasons why I didn’t like Tough Mudder
So I’ve outlined why my Tough Mudder experience was amazing, but I can assure you that it wasn’t all roses. Here’s why;
1) It gave me nightmares. After around 30 minutes of racing and approximately 5 obstacles in I was faced with the worst challenge there was: artic enema. I always knew I would hate the ice obstacles, but I honestly didn’t realize just how horrific it would be. I climbed a ladder that was around 3 meters high, you couldn’t see what was the other side. Philip and I both went down the slide at the same time, within seconds we were submerged in ice water. I raised my head, took in a gasp of air and then went for it. I had to reach the other side and fast, to get there I had to swim underneath a row of tires. I am a pretty slow and a pretty weak swimmer, so when I was out of breath and it was still dark (I obviously couldn’t open my eyes as the water was muddy but there was no sign of any light yet) I panicked. ‘Crap’, I thought, ‘If I can’t get out I’m dead’. I hoped for the best and pushed my head through the layer of ice floating along the surface of the water, which was the reason for the darkness. I needed air, and fast. I took a huge breath, but my body had gone into shock and only allowed me to take in a small amount of air. This was one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced, actually no- it was THE worst. Philip quickly helped me out and agreed that it was absolutely horrific. That is the sole reason I will not be undertaking another Tough Mudder race. I woke up several times that night covered in my own sweat because I was dreaming of being trapped under the ice. Absolutely God awful.
2) You’re wet most of the time. If you’re in a warm country, then great. A dip in the ice pool might even be pleasant (yeah right!), but in England you have to be particularly tough for this. The race took us around 3 ½ hours to complete and we were extremely lucky that it was a freakishly warm September day. Any ordinary day in England and would not have been nice.
3) Be prepared to be inured or get ill. Its highly likely that you will hurt yourself somewhere along the line. I had several bruises and scrapes, fortunately nothing serious. Some people were hobbling by the time they got to the end. What I find particularly concerning though are the stories of people that have become ill. Did you read about what happened in France this year? Over 1000 people became ill because the mud they were (dare I say it) submerged in, unintentionally swallowing, getting into their ears etc, was contaminated with animal faeces? Gross, absolutely gross.
4) It’s not cheap. I couldn’t believe how much it was to take part in the race, although I would probably say it was worth it- make sure you intend to actually do it and that you’re not going to chicken out after signing up! I paid about £100 but that was an early-bird price.
5) It will ruin your shoes. And your clothes. And nails, possibly even hair. Need I say anymore?
Have you done a Tough Mudder race? What were your experiences? Please comment below!