Let me just say that this year’s Tough Mudder event in Wisconsin was far more organized than the previous year. After last year’s parking debacle that left us sitting in traffic for over an hour to travel just 3 miles, I’m sure the organizers wanted to avoid that. This year, a new location and better parking. Because of the parking situation last year, we were forced to miss our start time and had to start later than expected. It wasn’t a big deal that we were late, but sitting in traffic for over an hour when it’s not expected is rough… especially when you have to go to the bathroom! If you think about it, there are all these people on their way to a race and of course they’re drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated. As we inched slowly towards the event, cars doors started opening and people were running into the woods (or hay fields) to use natures “restroom” and then quickly running back to their cars. Thankfully, we didn’t have that problem this year.
So, we arrived on time, signed in (signed our life away), got our numbers written on our foreheads (I guess in case we lose our head they can identify us?), and then walked around waiting for our start time. This year was a little different than past years… They had different color wristbands for the different start times. You also had to climb over a wall just to get to the start area. I guess that allowed them to slow people down and check their wristbands. They’re getting smarter every year.
I started the race wearing a knee brace, which lasted all of 3 miles until we hit heavy mud and it fell around my ankle caked with mud. I wasn’t sure if my knee would bother me, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to protect it if I could. My knees didn’t bother me, but the lower part of my legs, from my knee down, started to bother me about 4 miles in. I kept going and even though it would hurt the more I ran, if I stopped every once in a while it would feel better for another mile or so. Luckily, you pretty much have to stop for each obstacle.
We had a pretty smooth run through the majority of the course and we made really good time before reaching the final two miles. There was a long stretch (probably about 3 miles) where we were just running and there were no obstacles. In the last mile and a half we ran into long lines as there were four obstacles in a row. I understand that the organizers are placing these four obstacles at the end so that spectators can easily walk from each obstacle to the others, but it also allows for a lot of congestion for the participants. You see a lot of people trying to run after waiting on line at an obstacle, and they’re cramping up and stretching on the side of the trail. I tried to keep moving and stretching, but it’s tough. At least a lot of the waiting happened at the end and there wasn’t a lot of running after most of the obstacles.
One last thing I need to bring up about the Tough Mudder obstacles is the one they refer to as “Electroshock Therapy.” I just don’t understand the reasoning behind this obstacle. All of the other obstacles are about strength and mud and teamwork, but this one is just torture as you run through a a twenty foot stretch of mud/water with live electrical wires hanging down ready to shock you. I’ve done this obstacle twice and this last time I decided to not go through it. Why? Well… The first time I barely felt anything (maybe a couple zaps) as I ran through some mud on my way to the finish line. It could have been because I was too cold to even feel anything. The second time I ran through and got a few zaps and just as I reached the end I got a very strong jolt (not even going to call it a zap) that made my entire body tighten up and forced me to clench my teeth together very hard. It certainly made my teeth hurt, but I could have easily bit off part of my tongue if it had been in the way. Luckily it wasn’t. So, no more “Electroshock Therapy” for me.
Really, anyone can participate in these events and if you don’t believe me, just go to one as a spectator and see what types of people do these events. Oh sure, you have the super fit athlete types (men and women) and the navy seal guys, but for each one of those people you have two average or out-of-shape people. I’m not sure how many people start and actually finish, but it seems like most do finish. I mean, there’s a lot of people walking around after with an orange headband and a beer in their hand.
Have you participated in a Tough Mudder event? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!