THE TOUGH MUDDER SPECIAL: Team – Is one beer worth it?
Right, before I begin I would suggest you grab yourself a cup of tea and get comfy cos this post is gonna be a loooooong one!
7 months of training and it has all been for this one event, the blood sweat and tears I have faced over the last 7 months have all been to prepare myself for Tough Mudder, could I face my biggest fears? Was I man enough? did I do it? Read on to find out.
Tough mudder London South 2014, let’s start at the beginning…
Sunday 26th October 2014 began at 6.45am with a carb loaded mudders breakfast. This consisted of a sandwich of pancakes with chocolate spread and bananas, washed down with a lemon and lime drink full of electrolytes. I gave the pancakes my best effort but couldn’t finish them as it was far too early for such a heavy breakfast.
After breakfast we got kitted out in our chosen gear, I opted for a long sleeved running top with three quarter length running bottoms. I was told it would be really cold so opted for something warm. I was glad I did, it was 14 degrees outside and very cold.
Feeling terrified, I waited for the rest of our team.
The others arrived at around 7.45am and we set off about 8.15am and headed for the Matterly bowl in Alresford in Winchester.
On arrival we had to pay £10 parking which was fine as I knew it went to Help for Heroes. The walk to the registration area was a fair way, we passed a trainer donation section, for people who had worn old trainers and didn’t want to take them home afterwards, pretty good idea, I later understood why this was relevant.
Upon arrival we had our IDs checked, tickets and waivers collected and were given our numbers, bag and wrist straps. Numbers pinned, authentic military face paint applied, bags dropped off we were ready to go. Time for a quick team snap! We arrived slightly too late to run our 10am start time but hung back to take the 10.15am slot so we could get the official warm up in instead. The warm up was a fun filled 15 minutes of jogging and jumping with a few “hoorahs” mixed in to get everyone pumped.
With the warm up finished we ran to the start line having to scale a 7 foot wall first before we had even got there, a taste of what was to come! Upon arrival to the start line we were greeted by your usual mudder rep, enthusiastic, scary looking and loud! We had to swear a tough mudder oath, listen to a bit of safety information and give credit to members of the mudder legion (people who had completed mudder before). With many more “hoorahs” and “hell yeahs” the klaxon finally sounded and with a cloud of orange smoke we were off!
The first mile we ran we met killer gorilla, this was basically really steep hills up and down but got you warned up that’s for sure! I would give it a difficulty rating of about 1 out of 5. Just after this was Glory blades, this was simply some wooden walls angled towards you to make it harder to get up. No one seemed to have any problems with this and with a little help from your team even those with less upper body strength could get up. Difficulty rating 1 out of 5.
Walk the plank:
At 1.5 miles after running a fair few hilly bits we reached our third obstacle, walk the plank. This was one of the obstacles I had been praying wouldn’t be here and having not realised it was this close to the beginning I began freaking out slightly as it came in to sight. Unluckily for us there was no queue bar one person in front. I climbed up the wall to the top of the 12ft platform giving myself no time to really catch my breath after the run nor really think about what I was about to do. I had a matter of seconds to analyse the drop before it was my turn to go. Without hesitation and probably without taking a sufficient deep breath I jumped. The dropping feeling felt horrible and the cold water hit me really quickly. As soon as I was able to I began to swim to the surface, I didn’t get anywhere near the bottom so god knows how deep it was. Once my head was out I realised I could hardly breath, and then I began what felt like a pathetic doggy paddle to the edge whilst letting out some pretty horrendous gasps for air. I felt like I was going to drown it was officially the scariest moment of my life to date! I was greeted by my fiancés hand as I got to the edge and he pulled me out. I think he was scared for my life also. I found out he had basically had the same experience as me back then too which made me feel slightly better. Being as I’m pretty terrified of deep water and have only been on a diving board once in my life, Walk the plank was by far a 5 out of 5 for me! Absolutely horrific!
Completely soaked and traumatised we headed off to the next obstacle. A weird warming sensation came over our bodies which was a welcome feeling after being in such cold water, this lifted our spirits big time! We had a quick Volvic stop at 2.5 miles which was nice then carried on to the next obstacle haha ditch. Nothing to worry about there just a chalky ditch you had to get in and get out, difficulty rating of 1 out of 5, I’ve just remembered I bashed my knee here, that explains why it hurts today!
The mud mile:
A bit more running then we reached the mud mile at just under 3 miles. This was a series of muddy hills and trenches filled with clay like sloppy mud you had to cross. This was pretty fun and the first bit of mud we had come across, it was rather difficult to get across without being submerged up to your waist in thick mud so we all just embraced it and slid in. Everyone helped everyone up in this bit I even managed to help a man out without being pulled back in, go me! I got stuck quite a few times as it was so thick and heavy but after what felt like about half hour we all got out alive! I would give the mud mile a difficulty rating of 2, just because I got stuck so many times and it took a while to get across.
Back on normal ground we all adjusted our trainers which were now full of tiny stones, wiped away the mud from our eyes and laughed at how we were all head to toe covered in mud. The mud made running really hard at this point my trainers were now heavy and really uncomfortable and I think we all slowed down a bit because of it. I kind of welcomed the idea of water to wash us off but was apprehensive as to what would be next. I remember feeling quite drained by this point and really lacking energy.
Dave waiting to help the rest of us, up there first as usual!
An awesome pic of the whole team on the Mud Mile. My favourite photo of the day and just after Ben and Duncan face planted the mud!
At 3.8 miles we spied the next obstacle and it turned out to be what I had been dreading! Arctic enema was next on the agenda and again not much of a queue and not much time to catch my breath. I queued up with the intention of going in with my fiancé but ended up one behind. I was able to watch him submerge himself into the water then gage his reaction. This did not help as I saw how much he gasped and he can handle anything. Shit!!!! It was my turn, I dropped in the freezing cold ice water and waded forward as far as I could until I got to the middle and a row of tyres awaited me which I had to submerge myself under the water to get past them and out the other side. It hit me, the cold water had winded me and I was struggling to breath normally. A lady helper at the edge began talking to me trying to help me normalise my breathing so I could finish the obstacle so I was in there longer than I wanted to be. I thought I was going to have to be pulled out but managed to get enough air in my lungs to get under and out! Greeted by my fiancé once again I uttered quite a few curse words, jumped around like a lunatic and then the agonising pain hit me. Literally every part of my body ached from the ice and I mean every part! I’m giving arctic enema a difficulty rating of 4.5, very close to walk the plank but not quite as traumatic.
After collecting our last team member and with that familiar lovely warm feeling hitting my body again we were off to the next “adventure” but first stop Volvic tent and a yummy cookies and cream protein bar to replenish the energy sources.
Next stop was boa constrictor which consisted of tubes going down into shallow muddy water which felt really warm and then back up! Easy peasy! Difficulty rating of 1!
On to hanging tough, much like the gladiator game from years ago it was hanging hoops you had to swing from to get across above relatively deep water. It looked easier than it was and many people failed and dropped in. I managed to grab the first two hoops then I fell in, my gloves had been soaked from the last obstacle and it was just too slippery. There was no shame for me, some of us did it but most of us didn’t. Difficulty rating probably a 2 as it was quite hard to get across but it certainly wasn’t horrible by any means.
Gem was first… Looking super happy!
But like me she didn’t quite make it lol
Ben made it! Look at the determination on his face!
Steve fell in shortly after this pic followed by Mike, I made the rings wet with my gloves supposedly! lol
4.5 to 6.8 miles were a few different named areas which weren’t obstacles as such just a lot of running up and down really steep hills and over hilly terrain, very energy draining! In amongst this we did just the tip! This was scaling a wall with your finger tops and nothing to put your feet on in the middle, across deep water. I managed to do this no problem, I wore gloves which helped as it really hurt your hands. There was no way I was going in that water! Got across with a difficulty rating of 2 I would say! Good fun though I enjoyed this one. strong>soggy bottom which was a slippery slope of mud then a run through muddy water, pretty easy and I was the only one who ended up slipping over on their arse. It was pretty funny, and I understood where the name came from. Difficulty rating 1! We scaled a hay bale wall too which was no problem, easiest bit of the lot!
Kiss of mud was next, this involved commando crawling under barbed wire, a lot harder than it looks. I had never commando crawled before so managed to bash my knees and elbows quite a few times before I got out. It was more uncomfortable than anything, difficulty rating of 2!
Hold your wood was after at 7 miles but is hardly worth mentioning as it was pretty easy. It just involved walking in a loop with a large log then dropping it at the end. Difficulty rating of 1!
The next obstacle was balls to the walls, I couldn’t wait for this as I love climbing ropes. All you had to do was climb a 12 foot wall either by rope or by the ledges and back down the other side. Easy! Difficulty rating 1!
Electric eel was next at 8.2 miles, this involved commando crawling through shallow water with loads of dangly electric wires above you. This made me nervous but I managed to drag myself through it carefully, unscathed by any shocks at all! Phew!!
Another Volvic stop and another protein bar! Yummy!
Moto mayhem was next, a 1.5 mile run up and down a motorbike track. The hills were really steep but we all kind of stopped and started as we pleased having a leisurely chat as we went so it wasn’t bad at all.
Hero walls were at the 9.3 mile mark, these were really fun, just two sets of really high walls which you had to climb, I had the boost from the guys and managed to get over easily! I’m not sure I could say the same for them! I loved this bit! Difficulty rating 1!
Next stop pyramid scheme, it looked like a mini Everest. Everyone was standing on each other to get their team members up but most just ran all the way up, easy! I got up, caught the hand of my team then away we went to the next bit. Difficulty rating 1!
At 10.5 miles I had kind of figured that all the hard work was out the way, all the horrible obstacles were over and then we got to the next one. Cage crawl, shit! I forgot about this one! Another one I was dreading! Muddy water filled trenches waist deep covered by a metal fence so you are forced to float onto your back to keep your head above water and drag yourself across by your fingers. I looked on as the others entered the water, the reaction was not good! It was my turn, the water was freezing, I tipped onto my back and grabbed the cage. My ears were fully submerged in the water, I felt really scared, claustrophobic and I couldn’t slow my erratic breathing as I began to panic. I think I pulled myself across really fast as I wanted it to be over with as soon as possible! It was horrible! I made it out and by that point I think I had had about as much as I could take, I was close to tears! Difficulty rating of 3.5, not nice but if I had to do it again I think I could!
By this point we only had just over a mile to go, I’ve probably played down the running a bit too much but by this point I was in quite a lot of pain in my groin. The up and down hills had taken it’s toll and every time I walked it hurt more so I just powered on through. But at least I knew the worst was over with for sure now. Thank god! My advice to anyone taking on the mighty mudder, make sure you can run 12 miles, if you can’t you are likely to seriously injure yourself!
We are nearing the 12 mile mark and the next stop was Everest! This obstacle has been heavily built up to be really difficult, but in truth it was easy! There was no oil or mud to make it slippery so of course we all made it up with a little help from our team members at the top. It was really fun with a difficulty rating of 1.
Most of us managed to avoid fire in your hole because it was only for the legionnaires but we watched our team member take it on and it looked awesome fun! A steep slide of water over a stream of fire into more deep water!
We grouped together again and hit the very last obstacle, the finish line was in sight and all that was keeping us from it was electro shock! More live wires hanging which you can’t avoid you’ve just gotta run through and hope for the best! We got ready for our turn and as a team we ran though with some getting worse shocks than others. I felt lucky, I think I only got hit once and it honestly wasn’t even that bad! Difficulty rating 2!
Super Ben who is so tall his head was cut off in every photo from Electro shock therapy!
A great shot of Nathan, me, Gemma and Steve running through the live wires!
Steve fell over and lost his shoe!
But managed to find it again!
Duncan and Gemma wading through.
Mike and Duncan, with Dave getting severely shocked in the background, ha!
and then there was me, trying to avoid getting shocked in the face and looking like I am having the time of my life!
It took us around 3 hrs 20 mins but we crossed the finish line and were given our orange headbands, bottle of water, protein bar and free ginger Grolsh! I could not have been happier that it wasn’t cider this year! It was yummy but I was so cold I couldn’t hold the cup any longer so I only drank half. I was so glad it was over, I could hardly walk by this point I was in absolute agony!
Ben and Gemma!
Me and the boys! Started together, finished together 🙂
AFTER!!! Team – Is one beer worth it? YES IT IS 🙂
Of course you have to have a Tough Mudder selfie!
Me and the boy!
Tough Mudder London South 2014, been there, done that, got the T shirt and the headband but would I do it again….?
Until next time! I’m a fully fledged Tough fucking Mudder baby! It’s been one hell of a journey! If I can do it anyone can!
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