Last year I participated in the Tough Mudder Tri-state 2012 area event, which raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project- an organization that helps soldiers wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Haven’t heard of it? Well, in a nutshell, it is a 10-12 mile obstacle course, designed by British Special Forces, that is built to test you- test your mental toughness, endurance, strength and your ability to use teamwork. You have to run, crawl, climb, swim and most likely endure a few electric shocks that can reach up to 10,000 volts. Tough Mudder describes itself as “probably the toughest event on the planet.” And to back that up, they expect roughly 30% of participants to not finish the course, due to severe injury, hypothermia, or dehydration.
So, who in their right mind voluntarily does an event like this? Thousands of people all over the world have participated in TM. Remember those four things I said TM tests? Add a little bit of reckless to that mix and you’ve got yourself a Tough Mudder. If you’re thinking that you can’t physically do something like this, I am telling you that you can. I did it. Yes, I finished! And I am a petite female- 5’4, 112 lbs.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff- the obstacles. I’m sure you’re wondering exactly what I had to do, right? Well, my TM event was 12 miles long, consisted of 22 obstacles and had more mud than I could have dreamed of. Below are the most memorable obstacles:
1. Arctic Enema- A dumpster full of dyed water and tons of ice. The temperature is kept around 35 degrees. Brrr!
2. Mud Mile- You basically climb up an endless stretch (probably a quarter mile) of slippery mud hills set about 8 ft apart. After each hill you slide down into knee-deep watery mud and trudge to the next hill.
3. Pirate’s Booty- Swim through a murky lake (about 40-50 yards long) and then climb a high cargo net to get out. I am a swimmer, so this was one of my favorites.
4. Electric Eel- The only obstacle I was a little wary of going into TM. You have to crawl through a few inches of water while electrical wires hang down. My size was an advantage in this one- I weaved through avoiding any shocks! My teammates weren’t so lucky.
5. Hangin’ Tough- Four rings spread so far apart that you had to swing to the next one. I fell off the first ring and had to swim across.
6. Peg Legs- Different size tree trunks stuck in mud and water. They were covered in slippery mud and spaced a few feet apart. Dangerous! Saw some bad falls.
7. Funky Monkey- Monkey bars over water that have been greased with butter that start on an incline and go to a decline halfway. I swam.
8. Walk the Plank- 15 ft jump into 12 ft of murky water. Fun!
9. Trench Warfare- A pitch black tunnel that I had to crawl through. You have to feel around because you cannot see a thing. It is a small space so if you are bigger than me, you would have to drag your lower body.
10. The Berlin Walls #2- Yes, there were two sets of high walls that had to be climbed. But round two were near the end and had 12 ft walls that were caked in mud. Teamwork is a must. Easily my least favorite obstacle!
11. Everest- A half pipe covered in cooking spray and mud. Sprint up and hope someone grabs your arms to help you up- you need help with this one. This was another favorite and not because it was fun. While at the top I saw a wounded warrior, who did TM in a wheelchair, make it up Everest with the help of his amazing team. It was the most inspiring thing I have ever witnessed. That is what TM is all about.
12. Electroshock Therapy- Because one electrically charged obstacle isn’t enough, as your last obstacle you go through a field of wires dangling above mud. You can’t run through. Once again, I maneuvered through shock free, and again my teammates were not so lucky.
At the end I was cold, exhausted, and incredibly excited. I had 28 bruises and scraped up legs and forearms. My sneakers never made it home with me. And yet, my first TM will remain one of my favorite memories. I loved the aspect of teamwork and the camaraderie among strangers. I love the cause. There was a team whose t-shirts read “fighting for those who fight for us.” That really is what it’s all about, serving the brave men and women who fight for our country in any way we can.