Tough Mudder arrived in the UK for the first time this weekend, and graced the grounds of Broughton House in Kettering. Over 7,000 ‘Mudders’ turned up in anticipation after seeing all the videos and photos online from the US. If you don’t know about Tough Mudder, it’s a 12 mile military style assault course with over 20 gruelling obstacles that takeson average 2.5 hours to complete with only 78% on average actually completing it. Designed by British Special Forces, Tough Mudder tests strength, stamina and mental grit and camaraderie. It’s not a race, but a challenge and participents are encouraged to work as a team which results in good old fashioned camaraderie your Grandad would talk about.
I was one of the lucky ones to be able to get muddy and after some warm ups we enter the start line huddle after climbing over a mini ‘Berlin Wall’ – which will the first of many for the next 3 hours. Included in the warm up is some American style chanting and whooping going on which us Brits first struggle with, but after some singing the national anthem we are almost ready to go. Before heading off we have to swear by the Tough Mudder values –
- I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge
- I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time
- I do not whine-kids whine
- I help my fellow mudders complete the course
- I overcome all fears
This isn’t your average running race lineup either with fancy dress, topless men and a lot of male chanting you could be mistaken for being on a night out in Newcastle. After the 15 minute psyche up we are ready to head off and within the first 200m we hit our first obstacle – a water crossing which fellow Mudders take to like acrobatic ducks and crawl out the other end. We certainly weren’t dry for very long!
Along the 12 mile route we jumped in and out of fresh water, crawled up muddy hills under barbed wire, jumped over adn under logs, carried logs, ran though fire, slid through drain pipes, battled through electric shocks and much more. I figured pictures tell the story much better so I have tried to include all obstacles along the route to give you a taste of what happened!
Highlights of the route include the ‘Mud Mile’ which wasn’t quite a mile but long enough and was essentially a 400m of pure thick sinking mud with pools of water in between. If this wasn’t enough we were put through our confined spaces test and crawled through tight 20m long drainpipes up hill. Teamwork skills were put to the test at the numerous 15ft muddy and slippery Berlin Walls which required a good old fashioned leg up. If this isn’t enough add running through burning hay, water slides, electric shocks, muddy water filled with ice cubes and much more.
When we saw the finish line in sight the Tough Mudder crew really like to punish you with perhaps four of the toughest obstacles at the end – just what you want when you have just spent 11.5 miles conquering mud!
First your balancing skills are tested which required you to tiptoe over the end of planks of wood with a 10 metre drop into water below you – very few manage it to the end.. Hundreds of potential Tough Mudders (we’re not quite finished yet) queued up cold, wet, muddy and shivering like lambs to the slaughter waiting for our chance to slip across the river.
After this it’s back to the kids favourite monkey bars, but try them inclining upwards, then downwards, over cold water and when you’ve just ran 11.5 miles – those ones in the kids playground will be super easy now. Next if is the famous Half Pipe which is essentially half a steep skateboard ramp in which you must run up and get over. Sounds simple right? Make that ramp super steep, make the ramp muddy and wet and you have the Tough Mudder Half Pipe! Small guys like me can do it one if you have a big enough run up and a strong helping hand at the top, but a 6 ft 5” guy in my team took 8 attempts and 5 guys at the top to pull him over! After rounding up all the team we head up the small hills and after a quick team hug make our way through the electric shocks by the finish line, ready to receive the coveted Tough Mudder head band, much wanted beer, banana and blanket!
What’s great about the event is that as soon as you take out the timing and ‘race element’ everyone instantly helps each other out which is what makes the event so enjoyable. This certainly isn’t your average run and if you don’t take yourself to seriously or want a new challenge then Tough Mudder is for you – check out the next two events in 2012, Tough Mudder Cheshire and Tough Mudder Edinburgh.