This is a throwback post from July 2012.
Three months ago, my coworker asked me if I was interested in signing up for Tough Mudder. I looked at the website video and was scared but intrigued. Tough Mudder New England at Mount Snow? I could do more than 25 pushups and 6 pullups but am I ready?
Why not? You only live once. Hence our team name, YOLO. We signed up for the Mudder Entry fee tier for July 14th. With the mandatory $15 insurance, it was about $150. It’s always best to register as early as possible for the lowest fee.
After a light breakfast from the Cup N Saucer Diner, we drove to the mountain. Parking was not bad in the afternoon and we saw a lot of Mudders with their headbands. Sign in was painless and I brought my printed and signed death waiver. I got a band for identification/bag drop and age verification for beer.
Teams had received start times about a week in advance. My team requested Saturday 11:20AM but got the last coveted slot, 1:20PM. Because we were anxious we decided to jump ahead to an earlier slot, 1pm. We hopped the short Berlin Wall and entered the starting gate. The emcee did a great job galvanizing the crowd. Every starting block took about 20 minutes for a spiel, playing the national anthem, and laying the ground rules.
At the starting gate…
Once the challenge started, most competitors ran. We jogged, knowing it was going to be a long day.
The first obstacle did not come until we had a nice long uphill battle. It was Painful. Even coming down, you could not walk. Mind you, these were steep ski trails.
It recorded 91 degrees Farenheit and I was sweating 2 minutes into the competition. I jumped into the Arctic Enema (see below – it’s a plunge into an ice bath). It was pretty cold, but you take one jump, get up, feel for the underpass, then swim under. Since it was a hot day this obstacle was easy. I was used to the ice baths at the Russian Turkish bath houses in NY, so this was not a problem for me. On a fall or cold day, this obstacle would be horrifying.
Guess what was next? More hills.
At about mile marker 1 (about 1.5) was the first water station. I ate a banana and drank water. After that, I encountered the Kiss of Mud. This was where you crawl under barbed wire. This put a lot of stress on your forearms, elbows and knees. In addition this was the first introduction to mud. I considered this to be medium difficulty since my knees and elbows felt pain.
I saw more hills. I saw a pattern.
After mile marker 3 (about 3.5) was another water station. Next was Trench Warfare. This was a belly down crawl through earthen tunnels, giving you a Vietnam-type feel. Medium difficulty, since your elbows and knees took the hit.
More trails. Next were the first Berlin Walls. These were wood walls that are 8′ tall. Medium difficulty and the three of us jumped, pulled ourselves up and over without a problem. I made sure I hung on the other side for a few seconds before I let go.
More hills. Next was the Devils Beard, where we crawled under a stretched cargo net. As a group, we stood together in a line and raised both arms up and moved forward. Medium difficulty.
Since you get the picture, I’ll move onto the obstacles only.
Hold Your Wood was a 1/4 mile log carry in a loop. You picked your log, then walked down the hill and back up. Medium difficulty. After that is the third water station, which is before mile marker 5.
Electric Eel was an obstacle where you crawled under electrified wire. It was the first experience of electricity on the course. If you were behind an apprehensive snail, then you were in trouble. I felt the sting a few times and the jolts were not pleasing. Medium difficulty. Just take the pain and move on.
Dong Dangler is an obstacle where you have to get to the other side under a suspended narrow wire. This was difficult. I waited for folks to clear before I started. I hung upside down and pulled my way across. As I got to the middle, I was submerged in water. Getting near the end was hard since I was weighted and my forearms and grip wore out. I made it a little more than 3/4 of the way before swimming.
Cliffhanger was a steep climb up a ski hill. Honestly, this was not an obstacle since there were many hills throughout the early part of the course. Medium to high difficulty, if you were trying to run up.
At mile marker 6, there was the 4th water station.
Tired Yet was an obstacle where you run through tires. This could be easy to medium difficulty, depending on your speed.
Spiders Web was a cargo net climb in the forest. My team and I stayed here for a while, holding down the cargo net for others. Medium difficulty. We also gave instructions to a few scaredy cats who did not know how to get over the net.
The Ringer was a squeeze between two barrels. As long as you entered correctly, (shoulder first) this was easy.
Walk the Plank was a series of 15′ planks over water pit. I made sure I did not jump on top of someone. It was the initial free fall that gives me the chills every time. Then I swam to shore. Easy.
The Log Bog Jog was a muddy movement through thick mud. It smelled like someone took a dump in the moat. Some logs you climb or hop over. Some logs have barbed wire so you had to go under. Easy if you had a gas mask, but only mildly difficult without.
Log Jammin was an obstacle where you climb over and under logs. Easy to medium difficulty depending on your energy levels.
Dark Lightning was an obstacle where you crawl under barbed wire into a blacked-out box of dangling electric wires & rain. While it was not a difficult obstacle, it was like Kiss of Mud or Trench Warfare, where your knees and elbows take the punishment. Move low and you do not get shocked. Medium difficulty.
Funky Monkey was the monkey bar crossing. This was difficult. The first half of the monkey bars is angled up and the second half is flat. I made it until 3 rungs left… then I took a swim. No grip left.
The fifth and last water station is near mile marker 9.
Berlin Walls #2 were taller wooden 9′ walls. I do not have basketball hops so I needed help. I helped my teammates up. Then I got a boost from a dude and got over. The key here was to hang all the way on the other side before letting go to absorb less shock on your knees.
Firewalker was an obstacle where you run through fire. This was easy and I was disappointed in it.
Twinkle Toes was a bunch of balance beams above water pit. Easy. One contestant ahead of me was an older man (50+) and he made it without a problem. I waited for him to clear before I started. I did not have a problem with this at all. None of my team mates did either. We crossed without taking a swim.
Boa Constrictor was a crawl through sections of 3′ pipe. Easy to medium difficulty. Like the previous crawls, the punishment was on your elbows and knees.
Everest was a greased up 1/4 pipe. This was an obstacle I did not know how to train for. There were no half pipes in the tristate area I could run up and try to climb, a la American Ninja Warrior style. In addition, I was spent. The youtube advice I got was “don’t stop running and aim for the top ledge (not an arm).” Easier said than done. I started running hard before I got to Everest and ran out of steam at the foot of the quarter pipe. This took me about 5 times to get up. I took a breath, jogged, increased speed, got up some of the pipe, grabbed my buddy’s arm, and pulled up. Difficult, especially if you do not have basketball hops.
Welcome to mile marker 10.
The final obstacle was Electroshock Therapy, where prospective mudders run through electrified wires. After the previous shock obstacles, many contestants did not have the heart to take it again. Sadly, these folks crawled. I don’t blame them because the pain was far from mild.
Medium difficulty. I felt the shock twice and remember spitting expletives, but continued running to the finish line… claimed my orange headband, a banana and a beer.
I was still alive. I have joined the ranks of Tough Mudder.
We completed a little over 4 hours and 20 minutes. While a 3 hour completion time was possible, my team and I had fun completing all obstacles and staying around helping others complete obstacles.
Tough Mudder was not easy but it was feasible for many people. I saw a lot of young and old contestants. There were a lot of folks in shape and some out of shape. I saw a bunch of Vibram Five Fingers and two crazies on barefoot.
I was glad I completed the Tough Mudder. Not sure what’s next, but I was already thinking about trying other locations and possibly the same one next year.