We did it! My friends and I are officially Tough Mudders. And most importantly: we all finished smiling and without any injuries. Happy day.
And now, for a recap! A big thank you to the media team at Tough Mudder for providing me and Matt with free bibs in exchange for sharing our experience here on the blog! In case you’re wondering, I got all these pictures using my trusty waterproof camera, which I carried either in my hands or in my sports bra throughout the whole race.
The Tough Mudder Mid Atlantic Fall 2013 was a full day adventure. It was in West Virginia, and our start time wasn’t until 12:15 but we were told to get there early with plenty of time to spare. Everyone met at our apartment at 8:30 a.m. and an hour and a half ish drive to the parking lot, a half hour bus ride to the starting area, and check in later, and we were ready to rock.
Our team consisted of me, Matt, my college friends Sarah and Kathleen, my brother Steve, Matt’s high school buddy Nick, and my high school friend Lara and her boyfriend Jim. 4 guys, 4 girls. Perfect!
We decided to go for a neon theme, with Sarah, Kathleen, and I all wearing our bright orange Parks Half Marathon shirts. I also wore a little head wrap thing I got at a previous mud race (Lara wore hers, too) – it was great for keeping the mud and water from dripping down into my eyes – and for keeping my hair in place and my head/ears warm!
On bottom, I decided on black capris to keep my knees covered, my calf compression sleeves since we were going to be running for quite awhile (the Tough Mudder is about 11 miles total), and an old beat up pair of my standard Brooks ravennas that I was planning on donating after the race (there’s a shoe donation area).
In standard Mudder fashion, there was a wall to climb before you could get to the starting area.
We made it!
And before we knew it, we were off.
The Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic Fall 2013 course was about 11 miles long and included 1,775 feet of vertical gain, 700,000 gallons of mud, and 19 official obstacles as well as a number of “burn stations” where you did pushups, lunges, etc. Whew!
Our first challenge was “Kiss of Mud,” where we crawled underneath barbed wire. The barbed wire was low so you had to basically drag yourself on your stomach!
At one point my butt went too high in the air and I got a snag in my capris – thankfully they didn’t tear or I would have been half naked the whole rest of the course!
With one obstacle down and many more to go, we carried on, excited and nervous. The course took us through the forests of West Virginia; the views of the hills and in the woods on the trails were gorgeous, but it was SO hilly! Our team made a pact to stay together the whole time – occasionally in the running portions some people went ahead or stayed behind, but we always waited for and helped each other at all the obstacles.
That’s my favorite thing about races like this – that everyone is in it together. It’s not a race, just a challenge; everyone sticks with their team and helps to make sure everyone is safe, makes it over the obstacles, and finishes having fun.
It’s important to have guys (or very tall, strong girls) on your team for a Tough Mudder – some of the obstacles were really high and we needed help getting over them!
There were 6 water stops on the course, one about every couple miles, thanks to race sponsor CamelBak, which was great. We all gulped a cup down at every stop.
Lol to this sign:
Obstacle #3 on the course, after the pushups and lunges (which I think were there to slow us down so there wasn’t a pile up at the obstacle), was the dreaded “Arctic Enema.” YIKES.
The arctic enema is a big dumpster filled with ice and water. The average temperature in it is 28 degrees, and there is a wood plank overhead partway through that forces you to go fully underwater before you can get out.
Here are my brother and Nick emerging triumphant:
When we had dinner the night before the race, Kathleen and Sarah said that this was the obstacle they were most nervous about. I thought it would suck, but I didn’t think it would be that terrible. Here we are, ready to find out:
Oh. My. God. That sucked WAY MORE than I thought it would. Totally ate my words about thinking it wouldn’t be that bad! It was so cold that you had trouble breathing and when we got out, we were all aching for at least 5 minutes after. But: we did it.
Um, yeah, no kidding. Lol.
With one of the scariest obstacles behind us, we charged on, feeling triumphant and relieved.
Here is the cutest picture ever of Kathleen mid-jump into a mud pit – this was part of the “Muddy Mile,” which is a series of really slippery mud hills and mud pools.
Action shot selfie in the trenches!
Next up was a fun wheelbarrow walk challenge – below is my brother and Matt in action. Kathleen and I rocked it and I loved feeling like a kid again!
Next up: a team log carry.
Followed by more hilly running! This course was SO hilly, but the views mostly made up for it. With the exception of a few of the REALLY steep hills, we ran almost the whole time.
Up and over! You had to take a running start to get over these:
Next came one of the obstacles I was nervous about: the “Boa Constrictor,” which was a crawl through these circular pipes into some shallow water, and then a crawl out the other side.
It was a little claustrophobic in there but I actually ended up having no problems with it. Whew!
Wading through the muddy water with Lara just in front of me:
This hill was SO STEEP. And slippery! Definitely walked, not ran, up this one. I think my brother was the only one crazy enough to run up it.
I loved this obstacle – called the “Cage Crawl” for obvious reasons – you were in water with a cage right above you:
And to get through, you lay on your back and moved yourself backwards by walking your hands along the cage. This one was actually kind of relaxing – nice to let your feet dangle behind you and not do any of the work!
Next up was the “Electric Eel” – I did not like this one! Those hanging wires conducted shocks of up to 10,000 volts. I hit them a few times and MAN did it sting! Just for a second, but it sure surprised you. Sarah’s face in this picture below says it all!
Our next challenge was the “Berlin Wall” – this obstacle was teamwork at its finest. There was no way to get over without help from a buddy (or three)!
Here are some of the guys helping a woman who was out there on her own:
It worked best to have a guy at the top to help pull you up and a couple at the bottom to act as footholds.
And then it was on to the next challenge! I didn’t get any photos, but at some of the water stations they also had fuel – half bananas (I ate a couple throughout the course), plus some Clif Shot Bloks – I had a few of those, too, and also a granola bar that Matt and I brought with us and stashed in a SpiBelt, as well as a Clif Shot Gel about an hour in. It worked out well! I felt perfectly fueled and hydrated between that and the water stops.
This challenge was fun – it was a partner carry! Sarah and I alternated carrying each other on our backs, and Kathleen was paired with Nick! Lol. We were impressed she carried him.
Here I am walking the plank:
I made it without falling in!
And so did the rest of us. Go team!
Next, it was time to Walk the Plank. Up we climbed…
And down we jumped! Wow, that’s high!
Lara was scared at this obstacle so we were really proud of her for doing it! It was higher than it looks in this photo of her hitting the water!
Next up – Funky Monkey!
The monkey bars were super slippery AND they twisted, so the girls and I fell off basically immediately. Most of the guys made it! Here are Matt and my brother (farther along on the right in the orange tank) rocking it.
Even though we were out on the course for about 3 and a half hours, the time flew by. Before we knew it, we were approaching Everest, the second to last obstacle and one of the hardest. It’s a big half pipe, and you have to run as fast as you can and grab the hands of someone above so they can haul you up. It was SO hard.
Most of the guys made it on the first try, and so did Kathleen! Sarah, Lara, and I needed a couple more shots – they made it on the second try, and it took me three! Here I am at the top, pumped to have made it. I was not going to give up until I made it over that freaking thing!
Suddenly, we were all at the last obstacle. More electricity charged wires to run through – eek! Somehow I made it through this time without hitting any of them, but I heard some “AHHHH!”s coming from around me!
The 8 of us all crossed the finish line holding hands. Go team!! I was so proud of us.
As soon as you cross the finish line, volunteers award you with your orange Tough Mudder finisher’s headband, as well as a finisher’s t-shirt, which is a nice technical tee.
They also gave us all foil warming blankets. It was COLD out there, especially by the end! 11 miles and about 3.5 hours total of hilly trail running, obstacles, and mud? That calls for a beer.
Our team had such a good time. The Tough Mudder was fun, well organized, and I loved how team-focused everything was – everyone was helping everyone else out, whether they were part of your team or not. I’d definitely recommend this race if you’re interested. Don’t be scared! It’s fun, and everyone is just out there to have a good time.
I think marathon training prepared me really well for this race – it was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I must be getting used to being on my feet for long periods of time! That said, I was definitely sore yesterday – especially my hips from all those hills and climbing over things, and of course my arms from all the obstacles!
What a fun way to spend a Saturday. Thanks to my teammates for making the race so fun, and again to the Tough Mudder media team for the opportunity to run it! I’m so proud of us for rocking it.
Anyone else race this weekend, mud or no mud? How’d it go? I’m SO relieved no one twisted an ankle at the Tough Mudder! One month to go until the Richmond Marathon on November 16, and Kathleen, Rachel, and I have one final really long run, 22 miles this coming weekend, on the docket, and then it’s time to taper. Exciting!! I can’t believe it’s almost here!