Maybe you’ve heard the saying “life is a marathon, not a sprint.” While this is true, I think life is more like a Tough Mudder than a marathon. As you go along in life you will have occasions where it is an easy jog and others where it is a tough go through deep mud and muck and still others where you come up against various obstacles, typically no two of them being the same.
Though it has been over a year (May 2013), the Tough Mudder in Seneca, IL was one of the most exciting events I have ever completed. For me, it didn’t quite have the sense of accomplishment as a marathon but it was way more fun. However, I did have a greater sense of accomplishment than running a half-marathon. I liked the team aspect of the event and working through challenges together.
It was fun to run it with Eric (friend from church) and Josh (friend from work). We had great weather for the event as it was about 80 degrees when we started at around 12:20 pm. It took us around 3 1/2 hours to complete the course including wait time at obstacles.
There was an MC getting everyone excited as we waited in our starting block. Before we got in there we had a short wall to climb over. There was a short jog to the first obstacle.
I will share with you my experience at each of the obstacles:
1. Arctic Enema
There was a lot of hype about how cold this would be. This was a garbage dumpster filled with ice water. It was cold to go through but I felt like I got through it quickly enough that it was more of a fun challenge. However, there was a bit of a wait for people getting out. I had to wait on about 3 people in front of me. I don’t know what the hold up was but started jogging in place to keep my muscles active.
2. Kiss of Mud
This was simply an army crawl through the mud. Nice way to start the course getting us wet and muddy!
3. Electric Eel
All I can think of with this obstacle is BAM! I got hit hard with a volt through my head on this one. It felt like I got smacked on the head with a 2×4. Then the volt pierced through my chest. It hurt pretty bad. To do the TM again, I would seriously considering skipping this obstacle b/c a) I’ve experienced it now and b) it kicked my butt.
These pictures show me crawling through the eel and looking nice and muddy, and a bit dazed, from the eel.
4. Glory Blades
This was an incline wall we got to climb over and sort of slide down the other side. No big stories with this one. We helped each other over both walls.
5. Trench Warfare
After a short jaunt through the woods we came to this obstacle. It was a crawl through a dark hole. Not too scary but you had to crawl a little ways before you saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought perhaps this would be one where the space would be tight and freak me out but there was plenty of room to crawl through w/o feeling claustrophobic.
6. Walk the Plank
There was a bottleneck at this obstacle. We probably waited close to 30 minutes before getting up to the platform to make the ~12 foot high leap. The water was refreshing and it was nice to get some of the mud off! Following this we had about a mile and a half run to the next obstacle.
The route was mostly a grassy trail at this point. We didn’t push too hard on the running but had a nice pace going. I was soaking in the moment at this point thinking how fun this was and thoroughly enjoying it. After all, the worst of it was behind me.
We did get into the woods again and ran though some more thick wet mud for about a 1/3 of a mile or so until we got out of it and back on the trail.
7. Log Jammin’
This was an easy obstacle, climbing over and under stacks of logs.
8. Wounded Warrior Carry
We had to carry a partner for about 50 yards, then switch and they carried us for about 50 yards. Eric and I carried each other. He’s got probably 60 pounds on me…at least. 🙂 This wasn’t too tough of an obstacle. Had this been later in the course it might have been much tougher.
9. Hold Your Wood
We had to carry a heavy log for ¼ mile. This one required a team effort. We should have looked for a longer log b/c we were tripping over each other when we started and it took a bit to find a good rhythm.
10. Ladder to Hell
This ladder didn’t really go to hell. This was a simple climb up and over 2×6’s that were set up like a ginormous ladder. This was pretty fun actually. Our spectators (friends and family) rejoined us on the route at this obstacle so it was nice to see them again.
11. Hangin’ Tough
This was an obstacle where we had to swing from ring to ring over water. I didn’t make it very far, only through a couple rings. I was disappointed in my performance on this one.
12. Fire Walker
Sounds worse than it is. We had to jump over a fire they had set up and into water below that was about 4’ deep.
13. Dong Dangler
We had to cross a pond on a cable using our arms to pull ourselves along the cable. The cable ran down into the pond. It was one of the obstacles I liked the best. This was very “Tough Mudderish.” We lost sight of our spectators at this point for a few more obstacles.
Following the Dangler was a long arduous trudge (~ ½ mile) through more thick, wet mud. It was a tough stretch b/c by this point we had gone over 7 miles. It was very slick and I was always a little concerned about tearing up a knee. Eric and I ran a little bit ahead of Josh until we got to the end of it and waited on him to catch back up. It seemed a little easier to run through it rather that walk through it. But either way it was exhausting.
14. Berlin Walls
There were two sets of 9’ high walls we had to climb over. Typcially two guys would stand next to the wall and lift other mudders up so they could get over. I helped a few guys over each time before I went. I liked this one a lot. It was hard but fun, again very tough mudderish.
15. Mud Mile
This wasn’t too tough but it was the first point in the course where we saw someone call on the medical staff. We just had to climb over these mud hills and down into the water. Each set of hills was maybe 7-8 feet high and there were about five we had to climb over. Not too bad but the hills were really rocky so it would be easy to cut yourself up if you slipped on one of them.
16. Dirty Ballerina
Long legs made this one a breeze. All you had to do was leap over some holes in the ground. If you got a running start and kept going, it made it easy. About halfway through, some guy who was stopped stepped in my way and I had to adjust a bit and scoot around him.
There was another stretch after this obstacle where we had to run for a bit before we got to the next one. I remember it being pretty warm at this point so the next obstacle was a welcome relief.
17. Underwater Tunnels
There was a pond with three sets of plastic barrels and we had to swim out to the barrels, swim underneath each one and back out of the pond on the other side. The water here was really comfortable and felt good at this point in the course. However, we still were checking for leeches when we got out.
18. Twinkle Toes
This obstacle was basically a balance beam with a few steps in the middle we had to cross. It wasn’t too bad until it started wobbling back and forth. I fell off about halfway.
19. Boa Constrictor
We are so close to the end, we can see the tents and the start/finish area. This obstacle consisted of two drainage tiles we had to crawl through. The first one was at a decline and the second one at an incline. They were separated by a few yards that we had to crawl with barbed wire above our head. Really had to use the arms on this one as there wasn’t enough room to crawl on your knees. I waited for the guy in front of me to get all the way through before starting b/c the last thing I needed was to get stuck in there behind some guy who was stuck…yikes. I was a little nervous about this one before the day started but there was more room than I imagined there would be.
20. Funky Monkey
This was an incline to decline series of monkey bars. I really disappointed myself and fell off early on this one. In retrospect, I wish I would have given it another shot.
This was a fun one. It was basically like a half-pipe we had to scale. There were other mudders at the top to grab our hand and help us over the top. Each of us on our team got up there the first try. A lot of people needed several tries to get up there.
22. Electroshock Therapy
Another obstacle to send a charge through us to finish the course! This wasn’t near as bad as the Eel. A lot of guys though were standing there waiting to go through trying to figure out a strategy. I was ready to finish so I just charged through. The finish line was just on the other side. I didn’t get shocked too bad.
To do this again, I would train better for the monkey bar type obstacles. Other than that, I feel like my training was more than sufficient. I never felt too gassed or like something was more than I could handle. I just really enjoyed the whole experience. I describe it as a “toughness test” or an “exercise in practicing courage”. With some of the obstacles, the longer you stood there and looked at it, the bigger the challenge it seemed. If you just let go of fear and go for it, the obstacles were easier to overcome.
This final image shows an example of all of the obstacles we got to do.