And now…the rest of the story. (Check out Part One, if you missed it.)
So…after mud and rain and electrocution and a bad butt bruise, I was about half done with the Tough Mudder’s 11.8 mile course. Some of the really tough obstacles were still to come. Like, the Berlin Walls. These are about 10 feet tall. If you are Superman, you can just jump up and grab the top of the wall. Then you can use your upper body strength to pull yourself over. If you are me, you look at your teammates and request a boost.
This obstacle is the reason I have bruises under my arms and on my inner thighs.
Some people took a different approach to going over the wall…
Once you get to the bottom of the wall, you get to do it again. Hoo-Rah! (right.)
After the Berlin Walls, we came to Walk The Plank. This is terrifying for me. It is a platform 15 feet in the air. You jump off the platform into a man-made pond and them swim to the edge and climb out. One of my goals for this event, was to bravely jump off. I failed miserably at that goal.
The line was pretty long, so I had plenty of time to psyche myself up.
Tim wanted us to jump at the same time. I kept telling him to leave me alone and that I would jump when I felt like jumping.
My friend Holly was behind me in line. I repeatedly offered to let her go first. She, very sweetly, kept encouraging me. I watched most of my teammates jump.
Tim’s feet slipped on the plank right before he was going to jump. It was awesome.
I almost jumped a couple times.
That volunteer in the orange shirt kept saying things like “it will be over before you know it” and “look at that perfectly good water waiting for you at the bottom.” I wanted to punch him.
I finally did jump and the lifeguard swarmed me when I came up for air. She was ready to help me to the edge of the pond. Really. I’m fine once I get in the water. I know how to swim. It was just the jump that I wasn’t a fan of. Holly, on the other hand, did great!
Then we endured another Mud Mile.
Tim’s pockets in his shorts kept filling with air.
One of the next obstacles was the Funky Monkey. These are no ordinary monkey bars. (And I am no longer a 65 pound 4th grader with boundless energy at recess.) These monkey bars start with an incline and end with a decline. And they are really close together. And they are covered with mud, so they are really slippery. Tim made it all the way across.
Holly made it about half way.
Last year, I made it almost half way. This year, not so much.
Preston did a little showboating. (If I’m being honest, I would have done the same thing if I was physically capable.)
After Funky Monkey was the Cage Crawl. This is a chain link fence over water. You have to get into the water on your back and pull yourself toward the other end. It wasn’t that difficult. And it wasn’t as claustrophobia-inducing as I thought it was going to be.
Then came Everest. Everest is a big, greased half pipe. The idea is that you get a running start and try to throw yourself toward the top, in the hopes that your teammates will be able to grab your hand, or you can latch onto a rope, and get pulled to the top.
The reality is that the line is super long. You only get one chance. If you don’t make it, and you want to try again, you have to go to the end of the line. We probably waited 20 minutes (maybe more?) before we got to the front of the line. The ground as you approached the obstacle was rutted up and muddy and slippery. In other words, REALLY hard to get any type of footing or speed approaching the half pipe.
That being said, Kevin ran up it like he was just taking a leisurely stroll in the park. He easily reached the top. He was probably annoyed at the people who were helping him, because he could have pulled himself up with one arm. (Actually, he probably wasn’t annoyed. He’s too nice for that.)
Nawai just missed it.
Preston was actually made it to the top of the wall, but his fingers slipped and he caught the rope on the way down.
I didn’t come close.
Holly didn’t make it either.
(Corey did. Tim didn’t. None of us waited in the line to try again.)
The last obstacle is Electroshock Therapy. This is the big one.
This is why you sign the waiver. Picture an overhead lattice with live electrical wires dangling down. On the ground are rows of hay bales-put there to deliberately slow you down and increase your odds of getting hit by one of the live wires. Oh, and the ground is a sloppy soup of mud and water.
As we were waiting in line, the MC of this obstacle (the only obstacle where an MC is really needed-people often need to be encouraged to go through) was pointing out everyone who was getting zapped. Occasionally, he would see someone go down hard after a particularly potent shock. I heard things like “Oh, he got hit hard. He’s blacking out. I know that look. Stay with us, man!” These are not the things I want to hear before my turn approaches. Oh, and I had watched this video on YouTube.
Corey is super hard-core and just charged right though. I don’t know how many times he got shocked, but he was moving so fast, he probably didn’t even notice.
I took a bit of a different strategy. I tried to move quickly, but I had a bit of a plan where I wanted to go to try to avoid as many wires as possible. Somehow, I made it through unscathed. I was probably the only one in the group who did. Maybe I should be an escape artist. Oh, wait…that might be pretty claustrophobia-inducing. Never mind.
Then we were done.
We totally earned our orange headbands and beer. I don’t drink a lot of beer, but that beer was delicious.
After the race, we hung out for a while and then grabbed our stuff from the bag check area. It was nice that we had spectators who could watch our stuff while we showered. Well, sort of showered. There were some garden hoses hooked up so that we could hose off. And there was a line for that, too.
There was an Army guy at the showers with a blow horn. He was hilarious. there was a part of the course that ran near the shower area. This Army guy would take his blow horn and yell at the participants. “Why are you walking on my Tough Mudder course?!” He also gave those of us cleaning off a hard time. “This isn’t a spa, there are a hundred people in line!” It was excellent comic relief! He was awesome.
And, since this was the Tough Mudder, the showers weren’t warm. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the water coming out of my garden hose at home is warmer than those hoses. I tried to clean myself up as best I could, but because the hoses were so cold, it was hard to build up the courage to spray myself. The girl next to me was having the same issue. So we quickly made an agreement that we would just spray each other. It worked.
After changing, we spent a little bit of time walking through the merchandise tent. I didn’t find anything that screamed at me, so I didn’t get anything. We walked over to the car and started the ride back to my cousin’s house to pick up the kids. We still had to make the 2+ hour drive home. We grabbed a bite to eat and Tim and I argued over which of us was more tired. Apparently, I lost, because I had to drive home. Keeping my eyes open was a challenge.
The next day, I was about as sore as I expected. Of course the nasty butt bruise wasn’t anything that I had anticipated. Monday brought the most soreness, but I did get up and run a few miles. Tuesday, I ran as well. The bruise is causing some issues with running and I’m pretty bummed, since I have 4 more half marathons this fall.
It has now been just over a week since Tough Mudder, and I have come to realize this nasty bruise is going to be with me for quite a while. I have it taped right now, and I will make sure that it is taped before my next half marathon.
Tough Mudder is a serious challenge and I’m glad that I’ve done it the past two years. Going through this event with friends is the only way to go. Many of my teammates are already looking forward to next year. I may have to sit out a year. This stupid injury has me a bit disgruntled. I have other goals I want to achieve and it is hard to do that when I’m hurt.
*Excellent volunteers. Especially those at the water stations. They were great. They were out in the wind/rain/blazing sun and were still super encouraging.
*Partnership with the military. Tough Mudder donates part of the registration fees to the Wounded Warrior organization. And they aren’t shy about it. They promote it on their website. They talk about it at the start line. This year, the Army partnered with TM and they were out in full force at the event, encouraging (and cajoling) the participants.
*Teamwork. There is no way to get through this course without your teammates. Well, there is if you are super awesome and really strong. For me, I need my teammates. And this event encourages you to complete it as a team.
*Spectators. This year’s course was set up so that our friend’s could spectate at the vast majority of the obstacles. This led to some awesome photos and our friends felt like they were part of the team too!
*Expensive. The event is really expensive, and you have to pay for insurance. Parking is $10. Charging for bag check is ridiculous. The merchandise is astronomically priced, and they didn’t have the one item I wanted in stock. I wouldn’t be surprised if additional charges are added in years to come.
*Wait times. I don’t like waiting. For anything, really. I really don’t like waiting at the obstacles. There has to be a better way.
Overall grade: B+
Waiting at the obstacles was one of the things I didn’t like about the event last year. It was the big problem I had this year, too. The event really does require a lot from you, physically and mentally. I had a great time, other than the injury.
I will probably do this event again, but I think next year I’ll go as a spectator. It seems safer!