This past weekend I attended the Tough Mudder event I have been training for these past few months. I had lots of worries about things that might stop me from completing the event, but I finished and had a wonderful time.
It was really messy. No, messier than that. I got so muddy on the last obstacle that I rinsed off 90% of the mud, then realized I was still muddier than I had ever been in my life. So I rinsed off 90% of the remaining mud, and was only filthy and covered in mud. After two more rounds of rinsing off 90% of the remaining mud I was only dirty, so the clothes went in the wash.
Of the 16 km running portion of the event I completed 14 km at a jog. At that point my knee was really starting to scream and I was worried I would do permanent damage to myself if I kept pushing it, so I decided to just walk the last 2 km. I did all of the obstacles no problem though, as most of those were based either on courage or upper body strength and I had plenty of those left. The mudder had thousands of people running and a lot of them were gigantically muscled men, but a good number were normal sorts of folks, and maybe 40% women, so my raw strength was plenty to meet the minimums. Cardio held out too, which was something I was worried about. My training certainly did what it needed to do.
But my knee... not so much. I figured that would be the sticking point, and it was. I was kind of an idiot though and left my puffer in Toronto (even though I got the puffer strictly for the mudder...) and then when I borrowed a puffer I left that in my bag and didn't use it for the event anyway! I ended up having a minor asthma coughing issue right near the end of the day after a swim in really cold water, but that ended up being only a temporary setback.
Walking the last 2 km in some notable pain wasn't much fun but man the obstacles were great.
Wade through a river!
Crawl through mud while electric shocks randomly pulse through wires that dangle onto your body!
Pull yourself up through a sloping culvert and then fall in to a pond!
Climb over slick hills of mud!
Get over rotating boxes placed in a mud pit!
Plus a dozen more!
My team was great too, because I went with two guys who had comparable preparation / skill / strength levels to my own and also we really agreed on most other things and could rant freely at each other. Interestingly you didn't need a team, not really, because the event was cooperative and people all helped each other over the obstacles. It was a really friendly affair with everyone being a good sport and putting in a ton of work to help others, regardless of the massive differences in people's ability.
I liked the logistics and preparation of the people running it. Tough Mudder did a superb job. There was just one thing that got to me, which was the 'pump you up' speech at the beginning. They spent a lot of time trying to convince us that we were being inspirations to other people, particularly people facing things like critical illnesses or personal tragedy. I don't see why this was part of the speech, and honestly trying to convince me that I was doing some kind of great good by running around and getting dirty felt really weird and inappropriate. The other thing that was a big feature of the beginning of the race was a hardcore pro military message. I am not going to cheer for the military, much less the military of a foriegn nation which has so much disaster and tragedy to answer for. The patriotic pro-military glorification of the mudder really put a damper on it, though thankfully that stopped after we really got going.
Two days later my knee still isn't fully recovered, but it is pretty functional. I have to be careful not to push too hard but I am able to do everything with minimal pain. I have a nice variety of scratches and bruises still, but I expect I will be back to regular function pretty shortly. I didn't break myself!
As to whether or not I will run another mudder... I don't know. I liked it, but it was a lot of money. I felt good finishing it, but I don't know if doing the same sorts of events over again will have the same thrill.
But I can say for sure that I am glad I did it once to find out, and particularly glad that I had the teammates I did.