Tough Mudder, and Mini Mudder, May 2015

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By Steve Kimberley

You may call me cheesy and unoriginal, but I’m not ashamed to say that hearing about this race is one of the reasons that I got into obstacle courses in the first place. Now, a few years later and I have run so many different obstacle based races that I find it a bit astounding that I have only just got around to running a Tough Mudder.

A reason that I believe has certainly contributed to my lack of Tough Muddering in previous years is certainly the price. While anyone who has taken part in obstacle races before can tell you that this is not a cheap hobby to have, Tough Mudder certainly has one of the larger price tags of the bunch, and it’s huge popularity makes getting hold of an early bird entry quite tricky.

In any case, I was thrilled to finally be getting my hands dirty and finally joining the ‘Mudder legion’ so to speak.

Billed as ‘probably the toughest event on the planet’, Tough Mudder has been certainly one of the most popular obstacle races of the last few years. Having humble roots in the US, Tough Mudder has crossed the oceans of the Earth and morphed into an enormous worldwide event with a following of millions.

The race village was as expected on the day: full of testosterone driven lads in costumes, girls in yoga pants, and die-hard obstacle runners brandishing finisher’s shirts or headbands from their previous conquests. I spied a bar tent, which I earmarked for after the race, and joined the swelling mass at the gate to the starting line.

Now the routine motivational speech was unlike anything I have ever witnessed at any sort of race (or sporting event of any kind for that matter!) A microphone-wielding master of ceremonies yelled out the history of Tough Mudder like a preacher in the southern states of America. He made us all take a knee and swear fealty to Tough Mudder. He made us take an oath that we would help each other out and never give up (pretty sound advice to be fair,) and after what seemed like a speech longer than Adrian Brody’s Oscar acceptance, we were off!

This is the first race that I have ever encountered that actually has an obstacle before the starting line. Giving runners an taste of the trials to come, while also allowing everyone to appreciate how important teamwork can be, we scaled the average sized wall and were away for real his time.

The first few miles, while a bit too uphill for my liking, were very fun. The all-new and improved ‘Arctic Enema 2.0’ was absolutely enormous, and barely even a mile into the race. Absolutely freezing and soaking wet, we sprinted through the next few miles of woodlands while stopping occasionally to crawl through various muddy tunnels, one of which was filled with tear gas that just felt a bit too much like vapo-rub to actually bother me.

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Some of the obstacles that really stood out to me were the ones that actually required teamwork to complete. I have always been of the mind frame that I want to complete all the obstacles of a race myself, as if that somehow makes the achievement nobler. Tough Mudder however, forces you to accept that boost from your fellow runner, and in turn makes you offer your own hand to help those who come after you. In fact, Dean and myself spent so much time dangling off of Everest and one of the other larger scaffolds offering our hands to runners behind us, that I’m surprised that we were able to finish in the time that we did.

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As with any obstacle race that features a metal monkey-bar style climbing frame, the many people who had attempted the climb prior to us had left the bars wet and slimy, making them very hard to grip on to. In fact, in the whole time that we were queuing up for our go, I didn’t see a single person make it to the middle, let alone across the bar swing and to the other side.

I have hated this part of obstacle races since I have good upper-body strength, so am pretty capable at monkey bars, yet always manage to slip off of them. I had assumed that Tough Mudders climbing frame must be the same as all the others and prepared myself to take a dip in the foul muddy waters below. Yet, to my unending surprise, both Dean and I were able to swing all the way across the Monkey bars without even a hint of a slip! Big win!

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A longstanding issue that I have had with Tough Mudder (before ever having ran it) was that you get no finishers medal. While I love a headband as much as the next guy frizzy haired guy, I just don’t think that it’s quite up to scratch. I mean, imagine how cool a Tough Mudder medal could look in their orange and black colours. But alas, a headband and a beer will have to suffice.

Now as a seasoned fan and participant of obstacle races, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have struggled with races more. I can admit that I have had to dig deeper within my battered moral to drag my aching body across and over more challenging obstacles, and I can definitely say that I have gone through far more painful recovery processes in the days following a race.

Yet with all that aside, while I have to say that I have done events that are in fact tougher than Tough Mudder, when it comes to an enjoyability factor, Tough Mudder is simply untouchable. The organization, the support from marshalls and staff, the sheer size of everything from the race village to the obstacles themselves is all just so huge that you really feel a part of something bigger than just a race. The moral and overall atmosphere of the whole event gives Tough Mudder a sense of community and belonging that other races could really learn from.

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Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder By Kaci Sherman

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So Kaci, how did you find the event overall?

It was fun because you got muddy. Very muddy!

What was the best bit?

Running through custard was really cool and I really liked the bit when you go through the tunnel at the end into the mud.

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And the toughest bit?

When you had to try to go over the thing with the bars and the loops because I kept falling off and couldn’t hold onto it because I’ve got bad upper body strength! Also I didn’t like balancing the tray with cornflakes and water on your head because I don’t like cornflakes and I was scared it would spill all over me!

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What would you like to have seen on the course?

More mud around the course. Maybe a muddy trench or a skip. And electrocuting!

And how did you find running 4 laps?

It would be been better if they’d set it out in one lap instead of 4 because it for a bit boring doing some of the obstacles again and again.

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Do you think the Marshalls were helpful?

The Marshall’s were very good, especially the one at the obstacles where you had to drag a tyre on a rope as she was helping kids who were having trouble with it.

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Did you like your free Fruit Shoot at the end and are you proud to have earned your Mini-Mudder headband?

I think the fruitshoot (peach and mango) tasted very nice and the headband is very good, and I like that I can keep the headband forever to remember the race.

Lastly, would you run the Fruit Shoot Mini-Mudder again?

Yes because I enjoyed it so much!

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