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Running 5 Tough Mudders

§I'd never considered doing a Tough Mudder (or anything similar) until my brother Ric suggested it. It sounded like the sort of thing that I would completely steer clear of, but on my 21st Birthday, after a few pints in a brewery, I agreed. I thought it couldn't be that bad if I had a 6ft 6" giant on-side.
§Strava Link
Ric and I did some training together to try and prepare ourselves for the crazy event we'd signed up to. We ran for several hours, improvised obstacles from anything we could find (playgrounds, etc) and pledged to not drink beer in the 7 days 24 hours 12 hours 6 hours leading up to the event (something we both failed to stick to).
Before we knew it the day had arrived. We were slightly nervous but had done enough training and eaten enough pasta sandwiches in the preceding week to feel ready(ish). We parked up, ate several packs of giant Maryland cookies, and headed for registration, bag-drop, and the warm-up pen.
Tough Mudder is a challenge, not a competition. And there's something really refreshing about that. Within a few pages of his book, Will Dean (Tough Mudder's founder) says that one of his biggest frustrations, after he completed his first marathon, was his peers' obsession with his finishing time. He didn't think his time should be relevant. He believed that the achievement was in completing it. And now he's made a global event that's all about getting over the finish line - irrespective of how long it takes.
The sense of teamwork and camaraderie at the event was nothing but exceptional. A lot of the obstacles would be impossible without help from random strangers. I approached Everest 2.0 with dread, but soon forgot about that when I spotted a group of large blokes at the top with arms hanging down ready to grab me and pull me over. They singled me out to go next, and before I knew it I was happily scaling the half-pipe.
The whole thing was a lot more fun than I imagined it could ever be, thanks to the teamwork involved. There were uncomfortable moments, mentally and physically, but you soon forget about all of them when you're handed your reward pint of beer at the finish line. I've never tasted something as refreshing as a beer on the Tough Mudder finish line!
After the event, we headed back to base in Oxford, where we showered, drank, and then headed to the pub. Having completed a half-marathon with ice and electrocution, it didn't take much for us to get merry! We all signed up for our next event within days.
§Just after my first full tough-mudder, they launched a new series of half-events. The idea was much the same though - just with a larger obstacle:running ratio. To be honest I felt that there was something slightly lacking from the course. Some of the best obstacles had been omitted, and the whole thing was over far too quickly!
§Strava Link
Having enjoyed a couple of Tough Mudder events I wanted to get my mates involved. I asked my housemates, old and new to get involved, and encouraged them to sign up by telling them blatant lies about how it's "easier than it looks"! I also asked along someone I'd been on just 1 date with. Tough Mudder can't really be that bad because she's now my Fiancé! We headed up North for the event. As luck had it, I also had an exam scheduled for the morning after the event. I jumped on the coach to Nottingham with books in hand to get some revision done before race-day, but unfortunately ended up in a pub drinking lots of beer 🍺. We ate, drank, and prepared ourselves for victory the next day.
The course was not too difficult after recovering for 2 weeks. The main complication was the ground conditions after the torrential rain the night before the race. It was also more overcast than I would have chosen. Getting warm between the obstacles wasn't easy. The course layout was far from ideal too. "Mud Mile" was at the end, meaning that after we finished we had to hose off with cold water 😿.
§Strava Link
Roll on two weeks from Tough Mudder 3, and I was back in the warm-up pen for London West. With (most) of the original team (except for my 6ft 6" brother, Ric, who had bailed due to now working in Tokyo!). It wasn't ideal to be doing it without him. We'd actually have to get over the walls ourselves instead of being thrown, but we got through it. T-shirts, headbands and beer in hand, we agreed to do it again the next year. My challenge wasn't over for the day, though. I was due to be attending a ball in Southampton that evening, so I found a train and got back to Southampton double-time. The rest of my table had insisted that my food could not be taken away, so when I arrived 3 courses and a pint of Red Bull were waiting. The dodgems made me feel pretty shaken up. Who has dodgems at a ball!? But it was a good day none-the-less.
§Strava Link
The 5th Tough Mudder came around in 2018, again with the original team. This time I was quite unprepared, but my PT had done his best to prepare me over the 4 weeks leading up the event. I had also been practising aerial inversions just 2 nights before, so my core was suffering before I even started. I took some comfort in Ric's friend's wisdom below, however:
"I generally find that there is a strong, negative correlation between how much fun something is and how prepared you are for it" - Ric's mate
The course this year was more taxing than usual. It seemed that there were a lot more steep hills than before. (Tough Mudder refers to these as elevation opportunities rather than inclines!) But what goes up must come down, and it's not the kindest on one's feet! The course also repeated itself in a few places which was not quite such fun.
On the plus side though, the weather was on our side. It was probably the warmest we've done, so at least we didn't stand around getting cold.
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