With Beyonce’s Single Ladies stuck in my head, the hardest part of Tough Mudder was not continually singing aloud.

Over and done. Tough Mudder, the daunting monolith looming in my mind is rapidly drifting into the past. A day spent facing the elements of excessive sun exposure, excessive parking fees, excessive flatulence and excessive line-ups. How was it? It was a total fucking blast. In truth, I might have overestimated its difficulty and trained more than necessary, but any doubts are lodged firmly in a box marked things to give zero fucks about. We had a disparity of fitness on our team, which meant in true team spirit we catered to whoever was having the hardest time. This meant mostly walking in lieu of running or jogging, meaning the course wasn’t too tiring. If I were a more competitive person, I may have given a shit or two, but in truth I was so hyped up on the excitement of it all (and the near endless electrolyte drink samples they pawned off on us). If in retrospect I discovered they’d laced my water with cocaine, it would’ve explained a bunch. You know those almost infuriatingly chipper little spitfucks that are a bit too into what they’re doing? Crank that right up and you might’ve found my level. Singing and dancing all throughout the course, I was like a child discovering that there was a playground in front of me that just kept going for hours.

So, a brief rundown? We started in a small holding section with a burly dude playing hype man. His goal was to get us moving, warmed up and excited for the race to start. I think he’d had Monster energy drink pumped directly through his veins, cause he just kept going all day with a new group every 15 minutes. After some jumps, spot running and twisting, we were free to run down the hill towards the start line. Our first obstacle was a 2m wall. The people struggling with the first obstacle didn’t struggle for long. The spirit of teamwork had kicked in before the starting line and people ran in to help out where they could. After clearing the wall we found ourselves in another holding section just behind the start time. On the podium was a man whose entire job was to pad for time, clearly. He kept droning on with a bunch of vacuous platitudes and hype up words. The only snippets I heard were something about cholesterol and punching babies. Whatever gets you up in the morning, man.

Finally he stopped and the race started. With a hill. Like most hills (it was on a ski mountain for fuck’s sake), we found a pace between walk and slow jog. Like a steady hike, glutes engaged. The obstacles were scattered pretty well through the course. At the top of the hill we dropped into a flat mud pit, crawling under barbed wire. We rounded a corner and climbed a large structure, jumping 3 or so metres into a deep pool. Lots of uphill and downhill spread throughout, which would’ve been a major bitch if we’d been going at any great speed. The next few obstacles involved carrying a log on our shoulders like Arnie in the intro to Commando, climbing a series of wooden planks separated by heights of around a metre each, a short piggyback burst, walking through a deep muddy river and some tunnelling. Basic stuff to start off with.

As the kilometres ticked up, so did the difficulty. We climbed a sheer wall with a few footholds and a thick rope, ascending the other side similarly. There was a slide into a large tub of icy cold water, chilling the bones and muscles before another steep climb. A large net covered the ground and we had to crawl underneath (which I discovered went far simpler if you just bent over and crab walked sideways, people following in your wake of raised netting). We traversed a 3m wall sloped towards us, necessitating a boost for all but the natural jumpers (and basketball players). Then the mud mile, a gloriously messy series of mud mound rows with pits of muddy water in between. An order was formed: Someone would pull you up, you’d turn around and help up the next person and so on. Everyone was so friendly and willing to help one another, the spirit of the event was in full force.

Things got tougher again. They combined a bunch of activities for Shawshanked, an obstacle involving a mud crawl through barbed wire, a tunnel with a rope to pull yourself through and a backwards plunge into a deep pool. Funky Monkey was a wicked variable monkey bar obstacle. You climbed ascending monkey bars over a 1.6m pool of water, grabbed onto a swing then gripped a descending single pole, putting one hand in front of the other. Underwater Tunnels involved a barge constructed from large water drums. You had to hold your breath and plunge under, passing each drum one by one. Birth Canal was a small tunnel that you climbed through on your stomach. Trick is, you were being pushed down by plastic sheeting filled with water. Deceptively difficult, the pressure really held you down, making it a struggle to push yourself through.

The next obstacle was the big one, Everest. Have you ever run up a skate ramp? Well instead of wood, it’s slippery plastic sheeting. Also the top is rounded, so you’ve got nothing to grip. I don’t know how the first few got up, but people lined the top, ready to help pull people up by any limbs necessary. A crowd had amassed, cheering everyone on. When it came time, I bolted and really hit the gas as soon as my feet touched plastic. I jumped and gripped the hands of two guys ahead of me. I stayed to help others while my team came up one by one. After that, the 3m vertical wall seemed almost basic, given the tiny ledge at its base. I gained no small satisfaction from knowing that if I’m dangling with my hands gripping a surface, I’m able to pull myself up to the top. Next time I’m dangling off a cliff, I’ll keep that in mind. The second to last obstacle was for returning attendees only, but I opted for don’t ask don’t tell and tried it anyway. A series of pegs on an ascending wall, you had to grip two plastic rings and work your way across. Just holding your grip long enough was a challenge and required a steady swinging rhythm. Last up was Electroshock Therapy, an obstacle I’d been dreading. A short structure with little dirt mounds to trip people up. It was also rife with hanging exposed wires, giving 10,000 volt shocks to anyone who touched them. People who ran through invariably got shocked and crumpled to the ground, muscles spasming. Linking up with your team was a bad call, since the shock would transfer through the whole group. I’d asked someone who’d finished earlier what his strategy was. He suggested just walking slowly and weaving your way through. Following his advice, I took it step by step. I watched the sway of the wires and went when I saw a clear path. Taking my time, I jumped out the other end with not so much as a shock. Standing tall, I realised I’d finished. The biggest playground I’d ever traversed.

A huge rush of contentment, success and relief washed over me. Instantly I wanted to have another go, but given that we’d started so late and gone so slowly, there was no chance. Talking to my team we agreed. Next year we’d give it another shot. Next year we’d all train and aim to cut 2 or so hours off our time. Jubilant, I grabbed my complimentary beer, clinked cans with my team mates and had a well deserved sit. Over and done.


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