Many months ago I was peer pressured into signing up for Tough Mudder. I was particularly vulnerable at the time as I was finally getting the hang of CrossFit and had developed a bit of confidence. So I signed up for the challenge with my CrossFit team and then shared the peer pressure love with my runner coworker, aka Dave. He had been signed up for a similar type of mud run that was cancelled at the last minute so it wasn’t hard to talk him into it. The husband would have been dragged along but he was scheduled to work and the event sold out before he could request off.
So on Saturday morning Dave and I made the trek up to Dade City, signed death waivers in hand, to join the masses in pursuit of the title ‘Tough Mudder.’ For the Saturday event there was something like 60,000 people at Little Everglades Ranch and that doesn’t include spectators. Luckily we had a relatively early start time (10am) so we didn’t have to fight any traffic and parking was a breeze (though we should have paid more attention to where we parked since we had to wander a little bit afterwards).
We were taken through a very motivational speech, recited the Tough Mudder oath, listened to the National Anthem and then took off. Dave and I knew we were going to stick together but had an understanding with our team that we might split off from them since they weren’t runners (Dave and I are both marathoners and weren’t planning to walk). We didn’t have any time goals but kept in mind that the average completion time for the 11.5 mile, 26 obstacle course was 3 hours. Our ultimate goal was to survive without injury and have fun in the process.
Obstacle 1: Steeple Chase– The first obstacle we encountered had us jumping over several low walls. What you didn’t know on the first one was that there was a ditch between each wall that you had to jump over. If you jumped too far without looking you would have jumped into the ditch. A kind volunteer was attempting to warn us but we didn’t hear. I remember Dave turning to me and saying, ‘I feel like she just said something very important.’
Obstacle 2: Chernobyl Jacuzzi – This obstacle was the most shocking to the system. You jumped into a giant tub of dyed ice water (ours was green, there was blue and pink also) and then had to bob under some barbed wire halfway through the tub, which forced you under the ice water, then jump out. Once I crossed under the barbed wire is when I panicked. It was so cold and I couldn’t process anything, including breathing, so I just scrambled for the other side. Luckily no one was in front of me or else I would have body checked them out of my way!
I had begged Dave to be my Gu mule since I was wearing old crappy shorts that didn’t have pockets and refused to wear and subsequently ruin my Spi-belt (it’s seen me through 2 marathons!). So he stuck our Gu in his (unzippered) pockets and unfortunately lost them on this obstacle when his pockets turned inside out. Of course I badgered him throughout the course whenever I saw an empty Gu packet on the ground. 😀
Obstacle 3: Underwater Tunnels– The water on this obstacle wasn’t as cold as the ice bath, probably because it was a natural pond. You had to bob under several of those black plastic construction pipes. Only the first was a bit unnerving since it was difficult to judge how far to go underwater.
Obstacle 4: Kiss of Mud– Crawling on your belly through mud and under barbed wire. Not really horrible except it was hard to judge how big my butt was and thus how close to the ground I had to be. That and the girl next to Dave was flopping around like a fish and splashing mud everywhere.
Obstacle 5: Mystery Obstacle– The first mystery obstacle consisted of a bunch of tires hanging from a wooden structure at varying heights. You run through them hoping you don’t get slammed by a tire. This one wasn’t bad because the obstacle was basically empty, making it easier to navigate.
Obstacle 6: Spider’s Web– Climbing up and over a cargo net. Pretty easy, just don’t look down. And when it’s your turn to hold the net taught for your fellow Mudders, don’t look up. Mud flaking off their shoes will get in your eye.
Obstacle 7: Bale Bonds– This obstacle had hay bales on their side stacked 2 high that you had to go up and over. My first attempt at jumping on this obstacle was a fail and resulted in me face planting into the hay. Better than face planting in mud I suppose.
Obstacle 8: Ball Shrinker– Traverse a pit of coldish water by using a rope that was strung from one side to the other. I just jumped in and pulled myself across and the water wasn’t that cold.
Obstacle 9: Berlin Walls #1– Climbing up and over 12 foot walls. There was a little 2×4 attached at the bottom so you could get a step up. Dave helped me from below and some other guys helped me from above. Getting down was a straight drop. There was no step-down on the other side so take care when dropping from that height.
Obstacle 10: The Trenches– Probably the most hilarious obstacle of them all, there were man made pits of varying depths all throughout a mud pit. You had to go slow and feel your way along because at any moment you would find yourself chest deep in mud. We probably looked like a bunch of morons to spectators!
Obstacle 11: Twinkle Toes– A ‘log bridge’ consisting of a very long board over a water pit. The board was only supported on either end so the middle was very wobbly. It was also on its side so you only had maybe 3″ of room for your feet. The strategy here is to keep moving! I managed to make it all the way across but Dave paused to regain balance half-way in and fell in.
Obstacle 12: Devil’s Beard– This was a cargo net that you had to crawl under, through mud. The more people in it, the tighter it got. I put my hand down on something sharp (I’m not sure what since I was wrist-deep in mud) and had a little puncture wound just below my pinky. I definitely showed it off to all my coworkers on Monday. 😉
Obstacle 13: Boa Constrictor– Two long black plastic construction tubes, one angled down and the other angled up. Where the two met was a muddy pit. Going down was easy, going back up was a little more difficult but since I’m smaller (you know, than the men) I was able to crawl.
Obstacle 14: Walk the Plank– Jump off a 15′ high platform into a pond then swim out. I was surprised at how hard I hit the water on this one!
Between obstacles 14 and 15 were a series of maybe 8 steep dirt hills. This was really challenging for me since I was already fatigued. Plus there was a pretty strong wind and with all the newly excavated dirt piles, we were practically running blind from the dirt storm.
Obstacle 15: Jumpin’ Bale– Several hay bales in a line that you had to jump from one to the other.
Obstacle 16: Gator Bait– This was just walking through a long stream. There may have been Gators in there at one point but they were long gone when we came through. I was never really worried about them, they most likely took off when the all the set up construction started.
Obstacle 17: Gauntlet– A high pressure hose spraying you down. Unfortunately (for the race organizers, good for us Mudders) the wind was blowing pretty strong in the wrong direction and we just got a light mist. Which actually felt pretty good.
Obstacle 18: Fire Walker– We were channeled in between two rows of straw that was burning. It was definitely hot in there but the worst was the smoke. I felt like I had just smoked a pack of cigs when I emerged.
Obstacle 19: Berlin Walls #2– Another set of 2 walls, but these were a tad higher and I think the step was a tad lower. I was sitting on the very top of the first one trying to swing one leg around when I had the first thought of ‘oh yeah, this could be very dangerous.’ When I dropped down the other side I banged both of my knees on the wall and now have some awkward bruises.
Obstacle 20: Hold Your Wood– (that’s what she said) Carry a log through a pond that got to about chest high. I carried it via the ‘baby holding’ method then threw it over one shoulder when the water got deeper. Some friends (that did the course the next day) told me they were yelled at to hold it up over their head but I wasn’t told that.
Obstacle 21: Funky Monkey– This was the obstacle I was dreading! Monkey Bars over a pit of water. I have a horrible grip so I was convinced I wouldn’t get very far but I actually made it all the way across! Whee!
Obstacle 22: Mystery Obstacle #2– This is what I called Gopher Holes. I had seen pictures of this obstacle in other Tough Mudder events and was really nervous about it. The holes looked so small and I was worried I might panic in them (though I don’t have claustrophobia). Fortunately the holes were actually pretty big and I wasn’t that worried with Dave right behind me. Though I bet he was worried I was going to fart. Trust me, if I had one in the que I would have! 😉
Obstacle 23: Turd’s Nest– This obstacle had technical difficulty. The concept was that you were supposed to belly crawl under barbed wire then climb up a ramp and crawl across cargo netting that was strung above the barbed wire. Well apparently the cargo netting sagged too much and was touching the barbed wire so the officials removed that part of the obstacle. Instead we just climbed across the netting which was easier said than done with all the people making it bounce.
Obstacle 24: Hay Bale Pyramid– This was a pyramid made out of hay bales stacked 6 high. At the very top I again thought about how dangerous that could be.
Obstacle 25: Everest– A quarter pipe that you had to run up and jump with arms outstretched, hoping someone would catch you. Dave promised he would never let go but so did Kate Winslet and we all know how that movie ended!
Obstacle 26: Electroshock Therapy– Live wires hanging down that you had to run through. Some of the wires carried a 10,000 Volt shock but don’t worry, it’s the Amps that kill you. 😉 For added fun they hose you down halfway through and there are little hills you have to navigate.
Between all the obstacles was all trail running with varying levels of difficulty in the terrain. There were often mud pits to run through and streams to cross. We had so much fun and Dave had me laughing the whole time. The views were amazing and we really lucked out with the weather. Dave and I crossed the finish line together in 2:48:28 with all of our limbs in-tact and without significant injury. We both had our fair share of bumps and bruises and my knees were so stiff I could hardly bend them but we survived!
At the finish line we were provided with protein drinks, my favorite Cliff Builder Bars (in various flavors), Clif shot blox, bananas, water and Dos Equis beer. We were also given t-shirts and our orange headbands. Along the course there was 4 water stops and 2 of them had bananas (which kinda made up for the lost Gu… kinda).
Overall this was a really fun event and was so well organized. It was incredibly challenging and really taught you the meaning of teamwork. I give this event an A++++ and am definitely planning on doing it again in the future.