Tough Mudder Obstacle Course Race 2 August 2015
It soon seemed to have come around since the last event even though it had been a few weeks since Total Warrior. I had been training hard over that time and had managed to stay illness free so things had started to improve at the gym. The only downside was that I wasn’t making as much progress as I would have liked with running which was mainly due to weight but I was definitely fitter and stronger than I had been for Total Warrior even if that wasn’t going to show through with my running ability. The course was the longest so far and was further than the previous two challenges back to back so it was going to be a test even if my fitness levels had improved. After the challenges at Total Warrior I wasn’t as concerned about how I was going to make it through the obstacles as that had given me a good insight into what was probably ahead but even so there were some that I wasn’t looking forward to like Arctic Enema 2.0, Birth Canal, Sewer Rat and Electroshock Therapy. Ice cold water doesn’t seem to agree with me, I don’t like going through small tunnels and being electrocuted didn’t make my bucket list but I was going to give it a go and see what happened. I’d already decided that the only obstacle that I wasn’t going to attempt was Cry Baby as it wasn’t advised for asthmatics so that was going to be a non-starter especially as I was going to need to be able to breathe for the rest of the course.
In typical style, preparations the night before hadn’t gone completely to plan as Daniel had woken up about 2am and as my mum was staying over to help with the triplets during the event, I had to take him downstairs to see if he would settle. All of that ended up with him fast asleep and snoring on the sofa and me on the lounge floor! As I laid there I was pondering if it was how athletes prepared for the Olympics? When I woke up to get myself ready I was feeling tired but apart from that I was feeling ready to go and was looking forward to getting to the start and getting going. When we arrived in Skipton, I headed off to register and get my number and then when I’d dropped off my bag it was time to get warmed up for the start. As I stood with all of the fit people waiting to start I began to wonder what I had got myself in for but after making the pledge I was ready to go. We were the last wave of the day so there was going to be no-one flying past us from the next wave, only the marshals clearing the course.
After a pep talk from the founder of Tough Mudder, it was time for the off and with a bang the smoke started to rise and it was time to get running. It was going to be nearly 11 miles over tough, rolling terrain with 25 challenging obstacles in my way. I started with my now standard tactics of doing walking/running intervals so that I didn’t set off too fast and had some chance of making it around the course. As we passed through the first obstacle, Creek Crusade #1, I was the lantern rouge at the back of the field. My primary focus was just to keep moving forward and I soon made it through the cold water of the creek and headed towards the second obstacle which was Skidmarked. At all of the events I’d done so far I had never made it over an angled wall but today was the day to crack it. With the help of some friendly fellow Mudders, I made it over which was quite an achievement for someone of my size. I couldn’t believe that I had finally done it but that gave me some confidence for what was ahead.
The first mile marker seemed to soon pass and then it was time to face my fear of the cold water at Arctic Enema 2.0. You had to slide down to be plunged in ice cold water and then swim under a tyre barrier to get out of the other side of the tank. The slide down was fine but the cold water shock soon hit when I was submerged in the water. I came out gasping for breath and had to take a few minutes before I could make it under the tyres. I was pleased that I had got through it but it took a while to get my breath back after the shock. It seemed to take a while for the next mile marker to appear as I was struggling a bit and then just after I slipped in the mud and took a tumble just before Creek Crusade #2. I gave my knee a whack as I hit the floor but fortunately I was fine to carry on. The relief was almost tangible as I continued on my way and it was then a fair way to the next obstacle for me as I was missing Cry Baby out which took me on to Birth Canal. I hadn’t been looking forward to it due to the size of the tunnel but after a few deep breaths I took the plunge and started crawling in. There was a weight on your back immediately from the water above as you crawled along the tight tunnel and towards the end it was hard work to keep moving but then daylight appeared and I was through to the other end. I go back to my feet and then kept moving towards the 3 mile marker. My feet were sore by this point as my trainers were starting to rub but that wasn’t going to stop me and I was almost looking forward to the next point where I could put them in cold water!
The section to the next obstacle was mainly uphill which was hard work with the mud. As we were the last group of the weekend and it had rained the night before we were getting the course at its worst and muddiest. By this stage I was no longer the back marker as I’d managed to pass some people through the last couple of obstacles. The Bale Bonds were soon passed and then it was on to the tortuous Mud Mile 2.0. It was up and down in mud up to your waist with slippery hills to climb before being plunged back into the mud. It was energy sapping to say the least and the helping hands of fellow Mudders were definitely needed to get through it as you struggled to get any grip.
It felt like it went on for ages and then there was a trek uphill as the 4 mile marker was passed. It seemed like we were constantly going uphill but then thankfully there was a water station to rehydrate before the next obstacle. Sewer Rat was another that I wasn’t looking forward to as I didn’t think that I would fit through the tunnel and had fears that I would get stuck part of the way through. Another deep breath and then in I went head first. I was flat on my front so that I could fit in so I had to pull myself through by moving my hands and feet which was difficult and tiring. When I made it back out into the daylight I was starting to wonder how I was going to make it to the end as I was feeling exhausted and hadn’t even reached the half way point. The next challenge was Killa Gorilla which was a winding course up and down a steep hill which had my quads and calves burning and left me gasping for air.
Up next after another trek between was Kiss of Mud 2.0. It was time to keep low in the mud to prevent catching yourself on the barbed wire that was above. To make it even trickier you had to get over a hay bale as well. I managed to successfully make it through without tearing myself to shreds which was a relief but all of the effort so far was starting to take its toll. I continued to make my way around the course and started trying to remind myself that it wasn’t about how long it took but it was about the journey and if I could make it over the finish line then it would be a great achievement. I kept telling myself it was about the journey and that I had the determination to finish so I upped the pace a bit to the next obstacle.
When I first caught sight of King of the Swingers it didn’t look that bad. You had to leap from a platform 35 feet up to catch a pole to then swing to try and hit a bell before falling into a pool of water. When I got to the top of the platform and looked over, fear started to take hold. I was a long way up and whilst I can swim I’m not that comfortable being underwater, especially muddy water when I’ve fallen from a great height. I couldn’t do it, a few waves went through and I still hadn’t managed to jump so I stepped away from the edge. I was annoyed with myself for not just getting it over and done with but when I looked over the jump it just seemed like a challenge too far. I took a few minutes to compose myself but when I got back to the front it had made no difference. ‘Don’t over think it’ said the marshal, it was a bit late for that as it felt like I had been up there for an eternity and I was no closer to jumping. Eventually I managed to get back to the edge and on the count of three went for it. I wasn’t anywhere near the pole or the bell and went under with a large splash. I felt like I was under the water for ages and frantically flapped my arms and legs to get to the surface. When I did I tried to catch my breath before swimming to the side. When I got out I took a couple of minutes to recover my composure before heading off with a sense of achievement for what I had just done.
After the 6 mile marker had been passed we were heading towards the Quagmire which was another section through deep mud and over mounds. This time seemed even more energy sapping which didn’t help as there was still a long way to go. It was then a run upslope towards the next obstacle which was the Hero Walls. Fortunately there were others there when I got there so we all gave each other a helping hand or push to make it over the three walls. I was never that keen on being on top of the wall as they seemed a bit wobbly and I was never that confident getting over to the other side but with a bit of help I made it over and to the next water stop. A very generous lady at the water stop also gave me some Haribo to keep me going which was welcome as I was feeling pretty drained.
It seemed to be a long trek uphill again before getting to Funky Monkey 2.0 which was a long set of monkey bars that needed to be navigated otherwise you would be getting wet which is exactly what happened to me. The time on the bars didn’t last that long as I was tired and my hands were slippy which led to a swift and wet exit. It didn’t get much better after that as it was a long slog uphill past the 7 mile mark and up to Cliffhanger and the highest point on the course. The view was spectacular from the top which was a good job as I had to take a minute to get my breath back and then it was back down the hill was which just as hard as the way up as it was very slippery under foot.
The next obstacle was Devils Beard which was an uphill crawl under a net and over hay bales. That was one of the easier obstacles and then it was another downhill stretch to Hold Your Wood 2.0. I headed down the hill with Terrie and Colin who had come over from Liverpool. I joined up with them for Hold Your Wood 2.0 which involved carrying a telegraph pole around a course and through obstacles. We soon made it through there and then it was Swamp Stomp which was another section of deep water and mud. I pressed on though and it wasn’t that bad getting wet and muddy again.
After what seemed like a long section it was on to The Liberator which was a slanted wall that had to be navigated with pegs to pull you up. I tried to make it over the wall but didn’t have the strength to pull myself over as it’s difficult for me to hold my weight for a long period as I’m far too heavy but I gave it my best shot. We continued on past the 9 mile mark and on to the Pyramid Scheme where we had to work as a team to get everyone over the wall by forming a human pyramid. The good thing about events like this is the camaraderie and the teamwork where people help each other on the obstacles even though they don’t know each other. That was the case with the Pyramid Scheme as we all worked together to get over.
Next up was the Hero Carry where you had to carry someone else and then swap over and this soon passed but fortunately as we were doing it as a three we just carried Terrie and didn’t swap over so no-one had to carry me. After a tricky section through the mud which nearly caused a few problems the end was getting near as we made it past the 10 mile mark. Next up was Balls to the Wall which caused me the same issues as The Liberator as I made it up so far but then didn’t have the strength to pull myself up which seemed to be a common problem. There was then a long section before getting to the final obstacles which were all close to the finish line.
First up was Everest 2.0. It was at this point that I looked a little bit silly as on my first attempt as I tried to pick up speed to get up the slope, I managed to fall over my own feet and ended up in a heap on the floor before the slope started! To make it worse, Elaine was filming it and it was where everyone was watching as it was so close to the end. After picking up my wounded pride I had another go and made it up to grab the rope and then after making it to my feet
I tried to pull myself over but couldn’t keep my grip and ended up back on the floor.
It was then time for the final challenge which was Electroshock Therapy! I had been through something similar at Total Warrior and that had been ok but this looked a bit longer and more challenging. I ran in and then the shocks started to hit, the first couple startled me and then the next ones knocked me to the floor, as I tried to get back up I was getting more shocks so ended up crawling through to the end before collapsing on the floor. My majestic finish was a roll over the finishing line to end in a crumpled heap at which point I was given my headband and finishing pack. I’m not entirely sure how I got there but I had. When I made it to my feet and was handed my finishers t-shirt and cider to celebrate (which I gave to Elaine for the support).
I had made it to the finish and completed a Tough Mudder. It had taken me longer than I had hoped but despite the tiredness there was an overriding sense of relief and achievement for getting there. I felt exhausted and even there were points along the course where I didn’t think I would make it but I dug deep and kept moving. I really enjoyed the challenge and enjoyed the course even though there were lots of uphill sections. The obstacles made me face some fears and even though I might not have completed them all, I gave them a good go and couldn’t have done any more. It was definitely the toughest challenge that I have completed so far but I think there are is more to come especially with the cycle tour through the Yorkshire Dales less than a week away. If anyone wants a challenge that
will push them to the limit then Tough Mudder is definitely for you but I would also say that if I can finish it then anyone can as I’m not the fittest or lightest person
to have completed the course.
Thanks to everyone who has shown their support so far either through liking/sharing the Facebook page, sponsoring me or sending good luck messages. It has been much appreciated and has kept me going when things have been tough. The funds raised will definitely make a difference to the Blurt Foundation and Mind so thank you if you have donated. If you haven’t and want to why not have a look at the sponsor page. It’s less than a week now until the next challenge but I’m getting fitter and stronger each week so I just need to get rid of the aches and pains from the Tough Mudder and then it’s back to it. There are still some tough challenges ahead but things are going in the right direction.
Onwards and upwards