So as you already knew from my short blurb last week, I did my second Tough Mudder in Mesa, Arizona this past Saturday with a couple of friends. I’m actually really pleased with my performance, considering I did a TON better this year than I did last year. Alot of that has to do with the fact that I’m in better shape this year, by far.
I went into Tough Mudder this year a little worried about a couple obstacles since they really sent me off the rails last year. The first one is the “Arctic Enema”, a trough that is filled with ice and blocked off halfway through with a wall that you have to submerse yourself under. Last year, I was completely caught off guard by this obstacle and actually stood in the icy water for a good twenty to thirty seconds before I could move forward. Not my finest hour for sure. THIS year, as I came up to the obstacle, I had ingrained in my head the word “move” and continued to recite it as I walked the plank up to where you jump in. As soon as I hit that ice, I moved forward and didn’t stop until I came out the other end of the trough. I actually sliced my cheek open on a chunk of ice! As an added bonus for you, I’ve embedded the “official obstacle video” below. On a sidenote; to the guy immediately in front of me who jumped IN and them jumped right back OUT? Come on man, it wasn’t THAT bad!
Although I had TWO goals this year (1-Every obstacle completed 2-No injuries), last year I only had one and that was to complete every obstacle. The “Everest” obstacle took me nearly a dozen tries before I was able to complete it. It took so long that I almost walked around the obstacle (a sure sign of defeat, although plenty of people were doing it), and I definitely remember saying some unkind, unholy words. THIS year, instead of taking the time to dissect the best option, I just hit the ground sprinting. The only advice they really give you is to make eye contact with someone at the top who can help you up once you’ve made it to the top. I made my eye contact, shared a brief head nod with the guy I’d picked, and then ran full-tilt at the half-pipe. I was told later that a lot of the slick oil and mud had rubbed off by the time we got to it, but it still felt slick to me. Like with the Enema, I’ve shared the official video from Tough Mudder’s Youtube Channel.
Now for one of the NEW obstacles (and there were a few new ones this year, but I’m not going to give away ALL THE GOODS);
The Cage Crawl preyed on my fears. I’ll tell you right now; I’m not a real big fan of being in confined spaces and this one definitely made me nervous. I watched the people ahead of me and saw that they were grabbing onto the chain link to make it through. Uh yeah. That didn’t work so well for me. The first grab on the chain link fence submersed me. I had to fight back a momentary panic and get my head back above the water. There were spots in there that I had no choice but to dip my head under the water. The area between the water and the chain link seemed to be closing in on me the longer I moved through that water. NOT FUN AT ALL. By far, my least favorite this year. When I say “least favorite”, I’m not bashing on the obstacle by any means; just want it on record that it gave me a bit of a panic. Check out the video below of one man’s journey (ahead of me) through the Cage Crawl. Be sure to fast forward to about the 3:25-3:30 mark before he actually gets in.
The staple obstacles of the Tough Mudder are most definitely the electro-shock ones. They had two last year. The “Electric Eel” and “Electroshock Therapy” can both be a pretty shocking experience (yeah, yeah I know. Bad play on words.)
Last year, as I crawled through the Electric Eel, I didn’t get a single shock. I wasn’t going out of my way to avoid the wires by any means. It just didn’t happen to get me. THIS year, however, is an entirely new story. The wires were plentiful. And LOWER. There was no avoiding a shock while crawling under them. Actually, you know what? Scratch the “crawling under” and we’ll be honest here; it was “crawling THROUGH” them this year. Kudos, Tough Mudder staff! You watched last year and made sure to zap folks better this year!
The Electroshock Therapy is the final obstacle that you have to make it through before receiving your bright orange Tough Mudder headband and your ice cold Dos Equis draft beer. Just like the Electric Eel, this year served up some tweaking on that obstacle. While Arizona 2012 Electroshock Therapy took place over water, once you got hit and fell over, you could crawl through the rest of the obstacle and most likely not get zapped again. Arizona 2013 took care of that “problem”. There were a couple rows of hay bales smack dab in the middle of the run through so there was no pansy-crawling through. When you hit those wires, you had nowhere to go. Take a look at the video my wife got of my trek through the wires. (That’s her screaming for me too; don’t you wish you had somebody to scream for you as you get shocked 4 times in a row?)
Thanks to much to CristobalImprov over on YouTube for the awesome first-person videos he was able to get during the race.
If you’ve been entertaining the idea of running in one of these crazy things, I say go for it. Yes, you’ll be tired. Yes, you’ll be scared at some of the obstacles. Yes, you run the risk of injury. But seriously; what’s the point of living your life if you’re not going to actually do something dangerous every once in awhile? If you’ve been blessed with the ability to run and the ability to complete one of these races, keep in mind that there are quite a few people who DON’T have that ability and would love to be in your shoes. There is a real sense of accomplishment and a real “look-at-what-I-just-made-it-through” to someone who’s made it through one of these races. The camaraderie among the fellow runners is inspiring as you GET helped by others and then you go ahead and help others.