Sunday, 15 March 2015

Tough Mudder - Event day

So you've signed up for Tough Mudder and have been training, you feel ready for this, or as ready as first timers can feel, not truly knowing what to expect, as I've mentioned a couple of times, once you get onto the course and over a couple of obstacles, you start to get the feeling of being slightly unprepared for what you're taking part in.

However, this isn't about setting your mind at ease about the obstacles, this is about preparing you for the day and the things you'll need to take with you that they don't mention on the website.

Other Mudders:
If you're travelling by public transport you will likely encounter other entrants especially as you arrive at the closest station to the event site, strike up a conversation with them, if they are legionnaires they can advise you of their experiences taking part, veteran mudders are an invaluable source of information, with tips and tricks that they have for getting over obstacles and how they found their first experience and what they now do differently, if they are first timers they can share what you are most apprehensive about taking part, it will also help cut the cost of getting to the event site, since a taxi ride where you pay £5 each is better that £20-£25 for the same journey.

The event site:
The best way to describe the vibe as you arrive on site is like being at a massive festival, there is music being blasted from loudspeakers, an announcer psyching up those taking part and a huge number of people milling around the site and a huge number of portable toilets. There is food on sale but like most festivals somewhat on the steep side, so bring plenty of money.

It cannot be emphasised enough make sure the name on your entry is the same on the photo I.D. that you use to collect your entry number, as sorting it out is possible but a major pain to do so and will delay you getting onto the site. They previously had dedicated envelopes that contained your entry number with a specific place to collect your entry, this has been done away with and you just get a number with a QR code on it that they scan.

They have male and female changing tents which are pretty big and full of damp slightly muddy people who have finished the course, if you do use the tent to get changed you can ask what the course conditions are like and how cold the water obstacles are, also how much mud you can expect to find out there. I tend to wear my shorts on under my trousers so I don't need to use the changing tent to protect my modesty and for quickness.

Bag drop:
Self explanatory really, there's a £3 cost to leaving your bag which goes to the charity, there is no size restriction and you have to show your numbered wristband in order to take your bag out when you finish, security is very good.

The base camp:
This is where all the shops, sponsors booths and other stuff is located, its also the place to get your hair clipped into a Mohawk, if you so wish, courtesy of Bic, I've taken advantage of this many times and they'll even add a little colour to your hair, they will add a little something to keep you hair up but this doesn't last after the first water obstacle, so bring some kind of moulding gel and be one of the cool cats.

Warm up area:
 This is where the announcer will chat to the assembled crowd, they got legionnaires on the stage for London West 2014, to show off the new coloured headbands and ask how many events that they'd taken part in. Its a great feeling having a crowd of people thinking you rock. They'll then have the warm up team come on stage and get the crowd jumping to the music and getting ready to run, by shouting in each others faces before sending you off to the starting area.

Starting area:
You climb a 4-5 foot wall to get into the starting area, to get you in the spirit of the course, the announcer will then chat to the crowd, they will get first time Mudders to take a knee before getting first timers to give a round of applause to the assembled legionnaires, they'll then get 2nd time Mudders to take a knee and so forth until there are only one or two people left standing, they will get the biggest round of applause and cheers. Then everyone takes a knee to recite the Mudder pledge and an explanation of safety procedures and you then set off.

Water stations:
There are usually four water stations dotted around the course, they have just water at the first and third but at the second and forth, they have something for energy, these have been bananas, haribo jellies, met-rx protein bars and this year, they are supposed to have met-rx energy jelly beans, they provide a nice energy boost, though I found the met-rx bars tasted really nice but quite dry so water was a must.

If you've paid to camp, they have hot showers for finishers, which must be quite nice and I'll find out about them this year, otherwise they have a large number of showers if they haven't ran our of water for them, if its a warm day when you finish then its quite nice getting clean before the journey home, if its cold then enjoy another cold bathing.

What to bring with you:

A game: First and formost you bring your A game with you, if you aren't ready to give it your all and attempt every obstacle then you might as well go home now, if you have an issue with being in enclosed spaces or aren't a strong swimmer then those are sensible reasons to bypass certain obstacles, though if you do have issues like those and still give them all a go then my hat is firmly off to you, you have my utmost respect for trying to overcome your fears, however if you skip any because you don't feel like doing them or they look a bit hard, then you might want to give road running a go.

Clothing: you will need your running kit, very important, I listed the running kit in my first timers post here, you should ensure you have warm dry clothing to change into as the weather can be quite changable, you'll also likely be exhausted from taking part and this will help you recover your warmth.

A towel: This is something you don't want to forget, I forgot my towel twice, which given the number of events I've done is a bit embarrasing, I manged to buy one in the town near the event site and the other time it was a lovely warm day so it didn't matter so much but a towel is pretty important.

Baby wipes: This may seem like a strange one but if you've ever been to a festival or a large event that uses portable toilets they tend to run out of paper really quickly, so bring baby wipes with you, to avoid being stuck sans toilet paper, also they provide it but handwash gel is also quite useful should you need the babywipes.

Sun cream: I know the UK has a reputation for being a bit on the cold wet and gloomy side, well it seems the Tough Mudder people make a pact with a sun god or something because you can be sure that one of the events will be a scorcher and if you're running in the bleaching hot sun for several hours, you will burn, sunburn is not something you want to be remembering of your event, you may not need it but better safe than sorry.

So there you have it, my guide to what you will likely find at Tough Mudder events.