Well here it is- My first ever obstacle run. Tough Mudder had been thrashed around the media a lot in the run up to the event, and I was really pleased to be taking part. Our team was six strong from our MMA club through to a triathlon and Ironman veteran. About half of the runners in our team were weight lifters and hadn't completed a run before. We committed to the spirit of Tough Mudder and placed camaraderie above a good race completion time. We all helped each other throughout the run however was needed.
The event took place in Kettering, in the grounds of a stately home. It was in beautiful surroundings and it was a lovely day for it- a decent bit of sun and not too hot.
The registration was very well organised with multiple stations based on surnames to register. Despite there being thousands of people running, the queue was minimal.
The run started with a 15 minute warm-up and very American-style motivational speech. Very cheesy but it did the job of getting everyone very hyped up for the run ahead. The run began with about 1k of open running with a few river crossings, before starting a belly crawl up hill. It soon became very clear that the original map we were given of obstacles would be nothing like the actual race.
The marshalling was very good and there were no points where the course wasn't 100% clear. There were also toilets, water and bananas at 4 points throughout the race, so there was no need to carry your own provisions. Top marks for organisation!
The Arctic Enema obstacle was next and at first I was disappointed. When at chest level, it didn't feel any colder than a dip in a normal tub of cold water. Then I dipped my head under- it was bloody freezing! Next came some pretty simple Berlin Walls and quite a bit of running.
Following that was a lumberjack run and several slogs through thick mud through wooded areas. These were OK, but the logs were pretty much all rotten and weighed virtually nothing. It look very cool, but wasn't exactly what I had in mind especially as I had been training with large heavy logs :-/
What I would call the "main" obstacles came in two bursts, the first being about 4/5ths of the way through with the mile of mud, tyre runs, fire walking and tunnels. These were great- the mile of mud was super thick clay mud and quite knackering. It was heavy as well, and once covered it added quite a bit of weight.
The firewalk wasn't particularly hot and you didn't really get close to the flames, but the smoke from the diesel induced burning hay bales did get into your lungs quite badly.
There was then another section of running with some minor obstacles before the Electric Eel. This was a crawl under electric cables whist being sprayed with water. This sucked quite badly, as you had to use your own momentum to keep you going. It was often the case that you would pass past a cable only for it to hit your ankle, which was a real pain in the leg!
The last section of obstacles- walk the plank, monkey bars, the deep river jump, Everest and finally the electroshock therapy were bunched very close together. They were all fine, nothing to write home about. The biggest pain in the arse was that I lost my GoPro in the river after the deep jump. I will need to invest in a flotation device in the future! Lucky Phil from the team missed this, and his survived, so we did get some quite good footage.
So how was it? It was great, such a good laugh and genuinely one of the most fun days I have ever had. Was it tough? Unfortunately not. "Probably the toughest event on the planet"- Not really! Don't get me wrong, it was massive fun, but I'd liken it more to a day in an amazing adventure playground than a really gruelling event. There were little things that gave me this impression: The best example is the barbed wire. In all of the marketing photos and videos, the participants are centimetres away from the barbed wire. In reality we had plain wire 6 inches before that- It looked like we were close to the barbed wire but there was very little risk of touching it. In addition, the "Nettles to nipples" obstacle was completely missing. I know people who sponsored me to see me in as much pain as possible, and without this it just wasn't going to happen. This annoyed me a little. I signed up for "Probably to toughest event on the planet". Safety nets aren't tough! Toughness for me is being able to endure and come out the other side still wanting more, not risk assessments and mitigation.
With that said, I can highly recommended as a great team event for a good laugh with good mates. I'll give a comparison to the other main events once I've done them!