Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tough Mudder

On Sunday a few friends and a couple of folks I had not met were all a part of an amazing event!  The fall edition of the Tough Mudder Toronto, which is actually nowhere near Toronto.  It was actually up in Mount St. Louis Moonstone just about a 1/2 hour away from my old stomping grounds near Orillia.  I have actually been planning to do this event for the whole year up till now!

I left my house at around 6am and picked up my workout partner Sarah, who just did Run or Dye with me, and we headed off to my friend Rob’s old house.  Rob, who I had just reconnected with last January after about 23 years of not seeing each other, joined my Tough Mudder team almost right away when I put out the call.

Tara, whose crazy idea this all was had to bow out unfortunately due to illness, and so did Lindsay due to injury. Rounding out the team though were Kamita, who I had met at Run For Your Lives. Ian, who was a roommate during the Super Smash Bros. portion of my life!  Ian’s girlfriend, Caroline, and pals of Tara and Kamita, Julia and Nicola.  We even ended up with a team photographer, Genny, Rob’s gracious wife who waited around for us all day and took some amazing pictures.

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(Rob, Me, Caroline, Ian and Kamita in Yellow)

The very start of the event – they sort of make it clear that it’s not a race – we waiting in a starting coral as a group and when they let us go, we came to a wall about six feet tall and then climbed over and discovered that we were actually at the real start of the event.  There was a guy pumping everybody up, we sang the anthem and then off we went.  The very first thing was a HUGE hill.    We came up that as a group pretty much and then had to crawl under barbed wire face down in the mud (Kiss of the Mud).

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There is the big hill.  This guy had no legs and we doing the event.  We didn’t see him after the start, but he got a huge cheer as we passed him on the hill!

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The water was pretty chilly, but at this point the sun was warm, and it was pretty ok.

The race was fairly mild for that first half, not any really steep hills, and some pretty tame obstacles as far as effort was concerned.  A few boosts here and there and some encouragement were all that was required.

It was during this portion of the event that we decided that the runners could run between obstacles and then we’d regroup at each of the obstacles to get past them as a team.  Really being a team during the trials is what this event is all about.

My real challenge during Tough Mudder came about mid way through this opening part.  Walk the Plank was a leap from a platform that was about 15 or 20 feet over a pool of water.

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For some reason I just really had a hard time leaping off this.  I think part of it was the murky water, I wanted to be able to know I could push off the bottom to get back to the top.  That and I have not been much of a jump in the water from heights guy since a wicked ear infection when I was in high school.

It took me a minute or two, but eventually I screwed up the courage to leap.  Of course it turned out to be no problem in the end, but it was the hardest thing for me that day.

After a bit more running we came to electric eel where you had to crawl through muddy water under hanging electric fence wire.  I only got one shock, as did Rob, for me it simply made my arm go limp and I let out a bit of a yelp but there was no real pain.

The biggest surprise for me came at Funky Monkey, a set of monkey bars over water that angled up for half way and then back down on the second half.  Earlier this year at the O-course I failed miserably at monkey bars.  This time it was no problem at all!  I was really shocked!  Out of the eight of us six made it across no problem.

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I think what made it just that bit easier was that the bar were small enough to be able to grip completely, the ones at the O-course were like pipes and you could only hook your hand on.

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We all reached the half way point and Genny was there waiting for us right by the Berlin walls.  These walls were much higher than previous ones along the way, easily 15 feet tall.

Sarah and I got up on the first wall and helped our team get up and over, it was a bit of a balancing act to get up there and be able to help people over but we managed to get everyone up and over without much of a problem, except when Sarah fell and landed flat on her back and a bit awkwardly on her arm.  I thought for sure that she’d have broken it.  She was fine though.

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(Leaving Berlin Walls – Rob, Sarah, Julia, Nicola, Me, Crouching – Ian, Caroline, Kamita)

On the second wall Ian and I sat up top and helped get people over, this time no falls.  It was a really fun obstacle I thought and really the first one that took lots of team members to accomplish.

This is where the hills really started.  The soul crushing, hills.  The first half of the race only took us and hour and a half, the second half was almost double that due to the number of hills! 

The second half featured possibly the most dreaded and the most exciting obstacles of the whole event.  Arctic Enema and Everest.  Arctic Enema is basically a shipping container full of icy water with a barrier in the middle that you have to go under.  Yeah that’s right, submerged completely in ice cold water, that guys are constantly dumping bags of ice into.  It was SO cold!  We got out and had to jump around for a bit to get warmed back up.  We were all wishing the sun was still out at that point.

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Between Arctic Enema and Everest was Mud Mile, the dirtiest, slipperiest part of the whole event.  Pools of soupy muddy water, and heaps of slick muddy hills.  Everyone was brown, like really brown with mud!

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I don’t think that any of us got as dirty as this guy though.

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Finally we came to Everest, I was looking forward to this part for a long while, I thought it would be really cool.  Ian was the first of our team to go and he made it up on his second attempt.  I was next, and with the help of a couple guys that were already at the top I made it up.  This really was an obstacle where you needed the help of others, impossible to do on your own.  Especially once the ramp is all muddy.

Once I was up on the top I helped get the rest of the team up to the top along with Ian and Julia and Rob each taking turns helping me out.

 

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(One of my favourite pictures)

Everyone on the team successfully got up and over Everest, from here the only thing left was Electro Shock Therapy.  this is the one that is the image you see of Tough Mudder everywhere.  A length of muddy track with hanging electric fence wire and you plow through as a team.  On Ian’s veteran suggestion we all linked arms so as to hold up anyone that took a few consecutive shocks and would have been on headed for a face first dive.

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in the end it took us about 4:40 to finish the whole course and it was a blast the entire way along.  Everyone was all smiles at the end, sore, muddy smiles.  I would totally do this race again, and I think there was consensus that we totally should!  One of the best parts for me was that I got the chance to do the course with a few old friends and really strengthen those relationships, and I got to make some new pals too! Fantastic.

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Best Team Ever

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