Monday, June 11, 2012

Tough Mudder


As I type this, I am probably the most sore I have ever been in my life.  Last night, after I completed Tough Mudder, I was hurting.  It hurt crawling into bed.  But when I woke up, it was so much worse.  I didn't want to move.  I had an awkward waddle the entire day today.  Every inch of my body is sore.  Every movement finds a way to be painful.

All for the glory of earning an orange headband.

In case you have been living under  a rock, Tough Mudder is an event that bills themself as "probably the toughest event on the planet."  Designed by British special forces, TM is generally a 10-12 mile challenge filled with several obstacles

Yesterday, my friend Emily and I woke up at the crack of dawn and drove to Beaver Creek resort, one of the most popular ski resorts in Colorado.  On the way, we chatted about upcoming races and all of the worries we had about the upcoming battle.  We parked, hopped on the bus, and made our way to the site of Tough Mudder.  We made some friends on the bus ride and found out that they were in the same wave as us.  After chatting it up for the ride, we parted ways as we exchanged some well wishes.

Them:  "See you on the course!"
Me:  "...or in the morgue."

After grabbing our packets, we could not help but notice how cold it was.  If we would have done the race on Saturday, we would have enjoyed temperatures in the 70's and 80's, but Sunday wasn't so nice to us.  At race start, low 40's and overcast skies greeted us.  We checked our bags and started at the starting area.  All we could see was the course in front of us winding up the mountain.  Straight up.

We made our way to the starting area, which to get to, we got our first dose of the obstacles that lay ahead:  a 12' wall used as part of the Berlin Wall obstacle.  Then we lined up on the mountainside to get ready for the start.  There was a man with a microphone getting the crowd pumped up.  We all took a knee to huddle with our team, focusing on the camaraderie.  We made a pledge that you see above.  The participants in the military stood for recognition.  We sang the national anthem.  Chills ran down my spine as we got closer to the moment.  It's finally here.


We made our way through the Beaver Creek lodging areas and to our first obstacle.  Trekking our way up the mountain.  We kept climbing.  And climbing.  Up a black diamond ski run for an entire mile.  We rounded a corner and it looked like it was easing up.  Then we kept going up.  Eventually, we reached a part where it flattened out and we ran to another section of the mountain.  We conquered a few obstacles, most notably army crawling through rocky, muddy water (freezing cold mountain water... reemphasizing temps in the 40's and 50's).  Oh yea, and there were hanging shock wires ready to zap you.  We then reached an obstacle called "Death March," which just so happened to be a path straight up a double black diamond ski run.  Some parts were ok to walk - some you had to go on all 4's for balance.  Up.  Up.  Up.  Then it flattened out a bit, but we kept going up.  More obstacles.  Climbing snow/ice mounds while being blasted with a freezing fire hose.  Cargo nets.  Giant Walls.  Hauling giant stumps.  Mud.  Cold Water.  Breathing became difficult because of the altitude.  Shivering because of the water and cool temps.  After over 7 miles of trekking up one of the most epic ski resorts in the country, we started the descent.  At just over the halfway point.

The way down featured more of the same.  Freezing water.  Crawling through tubes.  Climbing up and over cargo nets.  Balance beams.  Army crawling through barbed wire.  5 miles back down the mountain.  The heat of the sun was finally coming out, but the cold from the water never left you feeling comfortable.  Dirty.  Sore.  Aching.  Pain.  Mud.  Blood.

When we hit the mile 12 marker, I got really excited!  We came down the final hill toward the home stretch, only one obstacle stood in our way, but probably the most mentally daunting.  All that stood between us and the finish line was Electroshock Therapy.  Watch the video below for a preview.

I was one of those people that stood in front, trying to figure out the best way to go through.  After a few seconds of waiting, I knew there was only one option.  The group in front of me counted 1 - 2 - 3 and took off together.  I took a deep breath, put my arms in front of my face, and took off through the wires.  I got one pretty bad shock that froze me and I felt through my entire body, and maybe 1 or 2 smaller ones.  Then I made it through.  I was about 400 feet away from the finish line.  I turned around to see how Emily was doing with the wires.  Uh oh.  She had that look on her face and I knew it was going to be a struggle.  I waited for a little bit and then went back to offer some encouragement.  After a little more hesitation, I agreed to do it again, and one of the staff members working the obstacle offered to do it with her.  He grabbed her hand and they plowed through.  I went through a second time, right behind my partner.  If we're going to battle 12 miles up and down a mountain and go through all that together, we're going to finish together.

2nd time was the charm

As we crossed the finish line, it was an incredible feeling.  Although we didn't complete every obstacle (the water ones became unbearable because of the freezing temps and for the last couple I had a gash in my hand and they were very hand-heavy, so I figured nobody wanted my blood to get everywhere), it was an amazing accomplishment.  

We did it!

Although the pain will stick with me for a handful of days, what I will really remember about the day is the camaraderie that was shared between the people on the course.  If someone needed help with an obstacle, people would run to them to help them through, under, or over.  There was no thinking about it.  It was just what everyone did.  Nobody cared about themselves, they were looking out for each other.  Whatever it takes to get everyone to the finish line.  Also the feeling of constantly pushing myself was incredible.  Through the pain, we pushed.  And 12 miles later, we can say that we conquered one of the most difficult courses that Tough Mudder has ever assembled.

This picture was from Saturday's race of some guys helping their friend with an amputated leg through 
Electroshock Therapy, and to me it captures everything that Tough Mudder is about.  It is incredible.


  1. Two word: Holy Shit. You're a little insane, but it looks incredible and now I totally want to do it!

  2. Dude I'm so proud of you! THis race looks insane and I don't know that I'll ever have the guts to do it! You rock and you keep encouraging me too, even from afar!

    You. Are. AWESOME.

  3. "How do I do this without getting wet..."

    Great work, White Lightning- you know I am, and will continue to be, so incredibly proud of and excited for all that you do :)