Thursday, 22 November 2012

Tough Mudder Part 2

I arrived at the Mudder reception area and collected my run pack from registration, this contained the usual run number and a band for my bag and one for my wrist. Once my bag was stowed I decided to have a quick look around the reception area and see the sort of costumes people were wearing, there were some, mankinis, some spartan warriors, some shirtless men, a few blokes in dresses and a lot of people wearing cold weather running gear, I did wonder if my knee length shorts and t-shirt vest top combination would be warm enough but I thought I'll be warm enough running, it shouldn't be a problem, it was only after I was standing at the starting line that I realised I was still wearing my glasses, so I had to stow them in my pocket and hope that I wouldn't lose them.

There was a bloke who was psyching the crowd up with the Mudder commandments and getting us to make a lot of noise, jump up and down to eye of the tiger and generally ready ourselves for the off. Once 10:20 came round the run started with everyone setting off at a nice easy pace, I realised that I would need to tie my shoes a bit tighter after nearly losing one in the first body of ankle deep mud.

After a slight muddy incline, we hit the first proper obstacle, the Kiss of Mud which was a crawl under barbed wire up an incline, this almost skinned my knees and elbows, then some more mud and onto the Arctic Enema, which is a large tank filled with water that you have to duck under a bar and climb out, it also happens to be filled with ice, so after jumping in I was paralysed through shortness of breathe and the fear/realisation that it was going to get worse with my head under the water, it took a good 30 seconds to psyche myself up to do this, after I surfaced I felt very awake and in quite a bit of discomfort but I plodded on through the mud to the next obstacle the Hay Bales which were very easy, in fact the easiest obstacle of the whole course.

We then hit the ankle deep mud on country tracks that a lot of people were avoiding running through, then onto Mud Mile which was a large body of water with some hidden depths and mud mounds to climb over, then more very muddy tracks, the Trench Warfare had us on our bellies through earth covered tunnels and out into a deep pool, which contained yet more hidden depths to dunk us. After a bit more running through ankle deep mud, (I'm guessing you're sensing a theme of lots of mud with this event) we passed a water station which I didn't bother with as I decided to carry my camelbak with me so I could drink at any point, then it was the Spiderweb, which was a really easy cargo net to climb, with people holding it at the bottom for others climbing, there was a little wait for this one but not too long, we emerged from the forest after this and that's when we hit Walk The Plank.

This obstacle required you to climb up to a very high platform before launching yourself off into a huge pool of water, people were helping other up to the top which was great to see, then after a short wait for people to be out of the way, I jumped in, I reasoned that it couldn't be as cold as the ice bath but I was wrong. I hit the water and realised that it was in fact colder than the arctic enema and you couldn't touch the bottom, so I was left incredibly short of breath and fighting to reach the rope ladder to get myself out of the water, after a few choices words I jogged onto the second Kiss of Mud which although on level ground was much muddier than the first one, then into another body of muddy water with hidden depths and onto the Berlin walls.

These were 8 foot walls that required the assistance of others to get over, I helped one bloke get over and then someone else helped me, with a drop onto hay on the other side, then another wall to help/be helped over, I then jogged onto the next obstacle, which was the Underwater Tunnels.  I reasoned to myself that this shouldn't be so cold as the outside temperature seemed to be warning up, with the sun coming out but I was quickly proved wrong, I stood next to the first of the three barrels and tried psyching myself up for about 30 seconds, the safety supervisor kept mentioning that it would only get colder the longer I stood there but I knew that I could handle the cold water up to my chest and mentioned this to them, like the first water obstacle I knew that it would be worse going under the water, I allowed a few others to pass before finally getting up the nerve to go for it, I reached the second set of barrels and waited around 15 seconds or so before ducking under, I even helped psyche up another person, shouting "you're a champion", with the final set of barrels I just ducked straight under so I was out of the water.

I then jogged onto the Boa Constrictor which was a crawl through a tunnel downhill to a shallow pool and up another tunnel, then a short jog which passed a huge dip into a river, then after a short jog down into another one. I then hit the Ball Shrinker which was a set of cables suspended over a lake, where you had to pull yourself across, although it was in water, it didn't have me putting my head under, so it was bearable. After getting out the water and climbing the slight muddy incline, I was onto a short run along a footpath, shaking my arms to warm myself up, another person asked "how are you", "really cold I replied back", he then said "come on, start running it'll warm you up", so he had me jogging along with him to try and warm me up, which I was grateful for, we reached the second Berlin/Hero walls which were a good 10 to 15 foot high, he helped my get over both walls before running off, leaving my to jog on through the mud and onto Log Jammin, which was a duck and climb over a series of tree logs, then along a muddy track to hold your wood which is where you carry a rather heavy piece of a tree, over a muddy section of the course, before dumping it back where you collected it from.

At this point in the run, I was starting to really tire, as I'd elected to wear knee length cotton shorts and a cotton t-shirt & vest combination, which proved to be a very bad idea, as the shorts were getting really heavy to run in. I jog along the track and reached a water station/medical tent and noticed others with heat blankets, so I asked for one of those and then headed onto the Twinkle Toes which was a tree trunks suspended over water, I managed to fall off and walked out of the water, trying to avoid falling over. From that point I started to walk the rest of the way. The Mud Maze would have been great fun, climbing over mounds of mud and into chest deep pools of water but I was starting to get cold even with the heat blanket so I eased myself into each pool and carefully picked my way through to avoid falling, it was cold enough to give me a slight cramp in my calf muscle, which I luckily managed to ease. I approached the Funky Monkey bar crossing and finding the bars slick with mud, decided to just ease myself into the water and walk across, only a couple of people managed to almost make it across.

As I was cold and had my heat blanket I avoided the Electric Eel, a crawl under electric wires, I should have left it to one side and collected it after I'd done the obstacle but I just didn't feel up to it, though speaking to a couple of people afterwards it wasn't too bad, in the way of shocks, I merely plodded onto the steep hill climb of the Cliffhanger, this was a long but relatively easy part of the course, winding around the forest and over a field, before a short walk in my case to the queue for the quarter pipe known as Everest. As this requires running full steam toward and up the quarter pipe before either launching yourself to the top or towards a set of helping hands, a lot of people don't make it the first few times, there is quite a large amount of people waiting to take their turn to get over, as I had to get back to the station to catch my train, I didn't have much time, so I waited until I could hold on any longer and decided that getting home was slightly more pressing than pushing myself over the obstacle so I missed this one also.

I'd discarded my heat blanket waiting for Everest, so I was determined to complete the final obstacle, Electroshock Therapy, this requires you to run through a set of wires that have a huge amount of volts coursing through them, when you get shocked it paralyses you for a second, with one of the shocks earthing through my penis, which was not particularly pleasant, as I exited it knocked me onto one knee and it was a final jog to the finish line to collect my headband, beer and t-shirt for finishing.

I collected my bag and quickly got changed before walking for the station, I realised I wouldn't have much time, so started thumbing a lift, luckily someone stopped to pick me up and dropped me in Wrenbury, they had also competed in the Mudder, so knew I'd be tired and glad of the lift. I picked up some food and headed for the station, as I waited, a couple of others turned up who had also been taking part and we shared stories of how we found it and all agreed that the underwater tunnels had been the worst part of the course.

As I was taking part, I said to myself and others that it would probably be the first and last one I did but as I sit here almost a week later and rested, I've already started planning the next one I'm going to do, this time however I will be better prepared, I will actually train for this one and I'll also train smarter rather than harder. Based on the clothing I was wearing to take part and the fact that although I'd watched videos of the obstacles, I was incredibly under prepared for exactly how much of a challenge the event actually is and as I put on Facebook, it was a challenge and at times an unpleasant one but sitting here thinking about it, that was really down to me, had I been better prepared and wearing better clothing, I would probably have enjoyed it more, still I did manage a time of around 4 hours 20 minutes which wasn't too bad for my first time.

So here's to the next on and me being much better prepared and ready for it.