This weekend we sent our resident racing couple Chloe and Keith to their local Tough Mudder. Find out how they got on;
In conversation with ‘normal folk’, when mentioning that I am a runner, the first question I most often get is ‘have you run the London Marathon then??’ Answer: No. When explaining obstacle racing to those un-initiated, the question is then ‘oh, so you do Tough Mudders?’ Answer: Not yet.
The weekend of August 16th & 17th, however would change that – as Tough Mudder South West had been announced to take part in Cirencester – capital of the Cotswolds and the town where I was born and raised. It only seemed right to go back to my home town to try out the biggest obstacle course event in the UK right now.
Keith: The race village had a buzzing atmosphere, with the usual food stalls, bar and merchandise tents along with other challenges and a junior run available to keep spectators entertained. Also in full view was one huge water slide – ‘Fire in Your Hole’ which looked like an incredible end to the race – this got me fired up.
Chloe: The warm up was entertaining with much twerking and hugging of strangers followed by an inspirational speech from the MC which was to psyche up the crowd and to prepare us for what was coming. However this did mean we were standing in windy conditions cooling down after the warm up – from a functional point of view perhaps have the speech before the warm up?…
A wall before the start line?!
Keith: I did like that we had an obstacle before the race (sorry not a race) began – a wall to climb over before we even reached the start line to get people in the mood – this was also then brought to a halt by the lengthy health and safety spiel from the MC. Into the race though, we were met immediately by overhanging walls to help each other over surrounded by running up and down the park’s short but steep hills.
After completing the annual wife carrying competition last year, the person carry obstacle was a doddle. The marshals were definitely impressed.
Chloe: About a quarter of the way through the course we were to carry one another for approx 50m then switch with your partner. Now with myself and Keith competing in a wife carrying race last year we had this technique down to a Tee! My head by his backside, legs round head and arms round his waist. But when it came to my turn I decided on the traditional piggy back, which didn’t go so smoothly.
Keith: Race marshals definitely seemed impressed by our professional carrying technique. With things heating up, the arctic enema (litres upon litres of ice in a bath) was luckily not far off and after a brief hesitation we were in. What else can be said about being dunked in a bucket of ice? It was cold. Very cold. And it hurt my manhood a little.
Chloe: For me this was pretty scary as I could not touch the floor or feel my way under. Keith had to come back and take my arm to pull me under – and they say romance is dead! We only had one hill to run and warm up again on before hitting the new obstacle debuting in the UK – the Pyramid Scheme.
Keith: We hit the Pyramid Scheme early on so did not have too much trouble getting up and over before it got too plastered and slippery. A nice addition, this felt like a taste of the notorious Everest still to come that I had seen so many videos of.
I walked through this park fifteen years ago to school, dreaming of doing something like this, little did I know it would one day come true
Following on, the course turned into a nice, long trail run within the fantastic ground of Cirencester Park coming upon the occasional obstacle, tunnels, Funky Monkey’s monkey bars, trenches and crawls were all thrown in. A word of advice to all those out there who do plan to run a Tough Mudder – you will have to run! If you are not prepared for the running you are in for some very long (albeit very scenic) walks. To be given the chance to run an Obstacle Event in a park that I used to walk through to get to school was a truly memorable experience.
Chloe: All the anticipated obstacles were in quick succession towards the end of the course. Walk the Plank was a 12ft drop into the water below. Here Keith waited for me to reach the top so we could “jump together” after the count of 3 I leapt into the water below, only to resurface and see Keith waiting at the top…. He says he was being a gent but he was more scared than I was.
Here Keith waited for me to reach the top so we could “jump together” after the count of 3 I leapt into the water below, only to resurface and see Keith waiting at the top….He was more scared than I was
Keith: Yes it seems that I hesitated again here and ‘being a gentleman’ waited for Chloe and others to jump before I decided to give it a go. After plucking up a little courage I did manage to muster up a jump and felt great for it! After shaking off the embarrassment here, the Legionnaires’ (anybody who has run more than one Tough Mudder) course separated from the beginners – to be honest I wasn’t aware that this was going to happen and was left curious as to what they were getting that we weren’t.
Here’s Keith bottling it at ‘Walk The Plank’
We hit Everest next which was a great amount of fun – being early in the day we didn’t have to droves of people waiting at the top to help us up, just a few experienced guys who had waited to help everybody out. I have to say I underestimated my first go here! I took a run, my feet went from underneath me and a slid humbly back down – turns out I will need that helping hand….
Comparison of different times of day
Chloe: Everest was a challenge which I wouldn’t let beat me, it did take me 3 attempts with much cursing and frustration when just grabbing someone’s hand to only slip out of their grip. Finally, a solid hold and massive wedgie from the guys hanging down got me over the top – but my underwear being stuck up my backside did not take away the sense of achievement I got from standing on top of this 10ft monster.
Finally I made it up Everest, my underwear being stuck up my backside did not take away the sense of achievement I got from standing on top of this 10ft monster.
Keith: Around this area was where we got to see what the Legionnaires got to do that we didn’t – the ‘Fire in Your Hole’ slide, it was extremely disappointing to find out here that we weren’t able to have a go here as I had been looking forward to this the whole way round (even despite my issue with heights displayed at Walk the Plank) but that’s the loyalty benefits I suppose!
Chloe: While Keith was eyeing up the slide, my heart was pounding at what I had been worrying about all week – Electroshock Therapy. I had to psych myself up and have Keith grip my hand and wrist firmly to force myself to run as fast as possible through it.
I was shocked at least three times, squealing louder each time! I hated it!
I was shocked at least three times, squealing louder each time! I hated it! I would not have done this had I been alone on the day. Definitely the worst part of the course.
Keith: I loved the Electroshock Therapy – the shocks are never nearly as bad as people make them out to be, just sprinting through and getting a little jolt is funny and not something that you’re going to get doing anything else!
I loved the Electroshock Therapy – the shocks are never nearly as bad as people make them out to be
One of my favourite parts of today was going back to watch people try d walk through, dodge wires, crawl through, go back for lost shoes or sprint through ignoring the hay bales underfoot so tripping and getting hit even more times. This is pure entertainment and some of the funniest reactions I have ever seen.
Chloe: My biggest disappointment was that although I was first woman to finish the course, I had no real recognition or proof. I understand that this was a non-competitive event but for me finishing among the top ten guys in this sort of route was a huge achievement. A little gesture would have gone a long way – though every marshal was brilliant, and as we passed they gave me huge cheers and encouragement.
That was our story of the day – what was yours?
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