9:40 am in Mesa, Arizona at the Proving Grounds, I’m in shorts and tank top in 40 degree weather next to my partner, Dave. We get the que to climb over the first wall standing eight feet high into the Start Line waiting pit. We’re at the front of the pack of 100 people. There’s a clock posted next to us and an excited host on a chair. He’s there to prep us for our 10 am start wave. He’s amped, we’re amped, and with our right hand raised we enthusiastically yell the Tough Mudder Pledge.
“As a Tough Mudder I pledge that…
I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine – kids whine.
I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears.”
3.. 2.. 1.. our wave takes off in the manner of a “Braveheart Charge.” We jog up to the first obstacle they call, Kiss of Mud. What did we do? We kissed the mud. We crawled on our stomachs in freezing water making sure there was enough room between our backs and the barbwire above us.
We thought we were cold until we hit the second obstacle which they happened to name, “Arctic Enema.” This joyful little obstacles requires you to jump in green dyed ice water and swim under a wooden wall to the other side. Upside: It washed off the five pounds of mud from the previous kiss.
Throughout the course, Berlin Walls were placed. They’re 12 feet high and required teamwork to climb over. The best method over the wall was the strongest man at the bottom braced himself against the wall, locking his hands together so others could settle their foot into it to be pushed to the top. Another man sat on top of the wall to pull others up if they didn’t have the upper body strength to get over themselves. Upside: Dave got a good laugh as the man at the bottom who was used to pushing up heavy men using the same strength for me… I’m basically thrown over the wall.
Other obstacles included climbing over hay bay walls (Jumpin Bale & Bale Bonds), crawling through tubes of mud (Boa Constrictor), and going through tires and crushed cars (Zombie Apocalypse). The mud courses seemed to be essential for teamwork as everyone is sliding because there is almost nowhere to grip.
With 29 obstacles placed throughout the course, Dave and I ran approximately 9 miles straight. From there on, it turned into a jog/walk exhaustion of the legs. Certain obstacles would amp us up again and some were way too long. For example, Hold Your Wood. Individuals hold two logs nailed together while teams of two held one large log. We carried these for about 2/3 a mile. You can see in the picture there are no “women” logs. Upside: …none.
YAY electricity! There’s an obstacle, Electric Eel, where you crawl on your stomach like the Kiss of Mud, but rather than barbwire above you, wires loaded with electricity hung low enough to touch and shock you. These shocks are not light. They hurt. They hurt enough where I yelled the profanity, “SHIIIIT.” Most of you know these outbursts happen with me, and yes, there were little children spectators around. As my body was shaking and seizing up in the mud, I apologized toward the crowd for cursing in front of children. One mother even looked at me and said, “It’s okay you’re getting shocked.” Upside: Children laughing because Kana yelled a bad word.
The best obstacle I thought should’ve been the last. Everest – where teamwork is the most important. This half-pipe wall involved running up with your muddy shoes trying to jump and grab whoever’s hand is hanging down from the top to pull you up. Men are sitting on men so they don’t get pulled down when they pull others up, men hanging camel packs and articles of clothing because the women don’t have as much as reach, and human ladders because the slip is too much while running up. Upside: This was by far my favorite challenge.
It’s amazing how much teamwork was involved with the others around. Dave and I completed the course in 4 hours and 8 minutes. We received our orange Tough Mudder headband, which you cannot buy but only achieve after completion of the course, and a victory beer.
*Some pictures courtesy of toughmudder.com*