Confessions of a Tough Mudder Girl

Our client, Heather Golden, shares her experience after completing the Tough Mudder.

10 miles. 20 intense obstacles.

What did I get myself into??

My uncle approached me one day and convinced me to do a Tough Mudder with him. After very little deliberation I decided that a Tough Mudder was in my future. I didn’t know the first thing about these “Tough Mudders” or what they were really made up of. I just thought of a 10-12 mile run with obstacles, right? Well yes, sort of, but perhaps add a little more insanity…err… I mean intensity!

Training for the Tough Mudder

I convinced my boyfriend to do it with me so we immediately started training. At first I kept with my normal bootcamp and Zumba workout. I later switched it to hill runs and yoga, and sprinkled my days with mini 1.5-2.0 mile runs during lunch.

Night Before Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder was a two-day event. Since we were participating on the second day, we got a heads-up from Saturday participants on what to expect:

“It really wasn’t too bad.” – said the two women limping to their drinks at the hotel bar.

“You’ll be fine. Just be careful of the rocks on the hills. You don’t want a broken ankle be the thing that stops you.” – said the guy that looked like he trains with the Navy SEALS.

“The shock therapy was the worst we’ve experienced. Probably twice as bad as the other two we’ve done.” – said the weary Canadian couple walking through the hotel lobby.

Hmmm…okay. It can’t be that bad, right?

Day of the Event

The previous night reviews didn’t exactly inspire confidence, but I looked around at the energy at the entrance of the Tough Mudder, and had no sense of nervousness or anxiety. There were all shapes, sizes, and ages participating. Let the fun begin.

Getting into the “starting area” you must successfully climb over a 6 foot wooden wall, with no steps or ledges to assist you, keep in mind. Once you are in, the overhead loud speaker guy pumps you up and sets you free.

The first two miles are a light trail jog. I ran strong, and felt good. Before you know it you are greeted with random obstacles… The first obstacles were softballs down the middle: small mud pits that you run into jump out of, a tube you crawl through, a big mud puddle. Then they hit you with the Arctic Enema.

Arctic Enema

Ohhhh the Arctic Enema. It is aptly titled. We approach wooden ladder like steps that lead up to a wooden platform. At the platform I look down at a pool of water that is abundantly packed with fresh ice. I am being encouraged to jump in.

Three-Two-One… I hesitate but then I make the jump. Once in the ice water you are forced to dunk your head to get under a piece of wood particle board that stretches across the pool. Now that I am on the other side there is absolutely nothing but ice. You cannot swim you must plow through the ice as fast as humanly possible. I reach for the platform that will get me out. Not realizing there are steps below to help me I struggle to get out and the numbing factor starts to set in. My teammate, who is waiting for me, and a Good Samaritan stranger reaches for my hand to help guide me up over and out.

Once out I feel that my legs are numb, my overall body temp is below freezing, and I have ice in places I shouldn’t mention. I am trembling partially because I am so cold and partially because I am in shock. I’ve got to warm up and push forward so I slowly start to pick up the pace to a slow jog.

That freezing wake-up call started the progression of tougher and tougher obstacles: scaling over ten foot walls, climbing up a twelve foot wall with the “assistance” of knotted rope, plunging into a pool of muddy water from a plank fifteen feet up, ascending and descending monkey bars.

Mile 10. Two obstacles left:

Mount Everest

A half pipe…well a quarter pipe made of plastic. One must run up the quarter pipe and hit a high enough point to where some of your teammates are waiting for you at the top. The top is a platform where they can hopefully grab a hold of some part of your body and help pull you up.

I stand back and study this obstacle. How in the world am I supposed to get up this vertical, greased (yes, greased, didn’t I mention that?) quarter pipe? One after another I see other “Mudders” attempt this Mount Everest by running full force, reaching for someone – anyone only to miss hands and swiftly be relegated back to square one.

My turn. I run. I hit the vertical part, trying to stretch and reach for my teammate who is lying on his belly at the top reaching his hand down to catch mine. We miss. I slide back down. After catching my breath and reassessing, I go again. This time my teammate took his bandana off his head, tied a loop so that I have something hanging a little bit lower to try to catch on to. I got a hold of it! But I am barely hanging on. Some other guy is yelling “give me your leg! Give me your leg!”

Ugh, I just slammed my body into this wall and now you want me to swing my leg up?? Repeat, I am dangling at the top of Mount Everest here people! I quickly recognize that I simply have no choice so somehow I manage to get my leg up to this guy and he barley gets a hold of my shoelace and then grabs a hold of my whole leg. Together they hoist me up. I am sure it didn’t look one bit of graceful, but, hey I was up and happy it was over!

Onward and upward…

Electroshock Therapy

10 miles later we hit the ever so dreaded Electroshock Therapy (Therapy? Really?). This is the last and final obstacle. A much deserved chilled brewski is waiting for me just on the other side of these dangling death wires that are charged with fierce voltage, and ready to ring my bell so I can drop face first in the mud.

From where I stand it looks like there are 100’s of hanging wires and there is no going around or under to avoid them. As a team we must plow through what appears to be about a foot of sloppy gooey mud. We stand back waiting for our turn and watch the team before us get zapped like moths getting zapped by one of those electric bug zappers. You could literally hear each ZAP. ZAP! Man down. ZAP! Man down.

We are up. I hesitate and fall a bit behind my teammates but I think this may slightly benefit me because if I see them get zapped and go down and I can somehow steer clear of that path (but in reality there was no ‘clear’ path). As soon as I step foot in the mud I get hit.

ZAP! AHH!! I am down. Face first in the mud. I get up and proceed. Trying to make myself as small as possible squeezing my elbows close to my body, head down, crouching and running through as quickly as possible. I make it through without another ZAPPING.

The Finish Line

I meet my team at the finish and everybody is kind of out of it… kind of like they survived some electroshock therapy!

After a few days I can honestly look down at all my scrapes and bruises and feel proud to show them off. It was definitely one of toughest organized events I have ever paid for and participated in… but I did have fun and it provides plenty of good story telling. There is a Tough Mudder coming up in October… I think I may sign up!

– Heather Golden

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