Loosening the Reins
Being as competitive as I am I find it very hard to loosen the reins however big or small the challenge maybe. Sometimes I tell myself “I really should take things easier today” but if there’s a start line and a finish line and other people involved I normally can’t help but compete. Tough Mudder however is one of very few occasions throughout the year where I don’t race. With no prizes for positions, no results published or any timing but one hell of an epic course with some of the biggest and best obstacles anywhere in the world it’s a chance to just get out to appreciate and enjoy just how great the sport of OCR really is.
The one lap course is typically 12ish miles in distance with hundreds of runners going off in waves 15 minutes apart throughout the two days of the weekend. Although I don’t race I do still like to go ‘the extra mile’. In both 2014 and 2015 I did three laps over the Saturday and Sunday combine with the location conveniently situated just 12 miles from home. This year however the venue had moved 50 miles further away to Grantham which mean I would only be attending on the Sunday with two laps the target.
Knowing that some of the obstacles require teamwork (‘Everest’- a giant half pipe ramp, and two new ones- ‘Human Pyramid’- basically standing on top of each other to reach the top and ‘Blockness Monster’- two revolving rectangular blocks in water that required the strength of several people to spin to allow others to grab onto in order to cross) and not wanting to front run I went in wave three allowing for a good clear run with no queueing but just enough help from others when needed. It was also nice to give my fellow participants a hand whenever necessary, something I don’t really get the chance to do when racing and often feel a little guilty about.
As you come to expect from Tough Mudder, the course was awesome. A great mix of running and obstacles on varied terrain with plenty of mud and water. Their budget allows them to produce some of the biggest hitting obstacles in the sport and they certainly deliver on that. ‘King of the swingers’ for example is as impressive in structure as it is in performance and there’s not much else out there like it (See video).
Another new obstacle was ‘Frequent Flyers Club’ where runners were tasked to climb a high scaffold structure then jump off a platform aiming to reach for the furthest hanging pole before plummeting to a landing on a giant air bag (see video).
Then there were some of my old favourites including ‘Funky Monkey’ which consisted of monkey bars followed by a trapeze then a horizontal pole all suspended above deep water, ‘Arctic Enema’ which is a caged side into a freezing cold ice skip then a full submerge under tyres before climbing out and ‘Rain Man’ which is a crawl in water under a cage head first with only the tip of your face not getting wet. And my not so favourite ‘Electroshock Therapy’ to finish as always (see video). It’s one of those that makes you question your sanity.
I got round the first lap feeling great all the way and then went straight out again for lap two where I stayed strong keeping a good pace up throughout. I had fun on the obstacles taking a little more time than I normally would on some of them but tried to really test myself by pushing my running on hard as I come through each one.
I’d love to have a proper competitive race on a Tough Mudder course one day but not sure that will happen other than at World’s Toughest Mudder which is on my bucket list.