On Saturday, I set out to complete my second Tough Mudder challenge. The first was in Amherst Ohio last year in April. This year, it was at Michigan International Speedway which is just east of Jackson, MI. A shorter drive and we didn’t have to spend the night in Amherst, but it was still going to be a challenge.
For those who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is a 10+ mile course with obstacles that tests your overall fitness, stamina, strength, and mental toughness. It isn’t a race so to speak as it is a challenge. Everyone is helping each other through the obstacles throughout the event.
Our official start time was at 11:40 but we got to the event a full hour and a half ahead of schedule. By the time we made it to the starting line, it was our time for our heat to start. My brother and I got over the wall to get into the starting area and the event was on shortly after that. The GoPro that my brother bought wasn’t working, so that was a bummer, but I quickly forgot about that and concentrated on the course.
There were 20 obstacles on our 12 mile course. Here is a breakdown with a toughness rating for each one of 1-5. A 1 is easy while a 5 is incredibly hard.
- Glory Blades – This is where you climb over a wall at an angle. This was easy with others helping you out but still requires a little upper body strength to complete. Toughness = 2
- Kiss of Mud #1 – This is where you crawl under barbed wire in the mud and over rocks. Not very difficult if you have good upper and lower body strength, but crawling over the rocks isn’t that comfortable. Toughness = 2
- Firewalker – Easy and fun obstacle! You run, jump over fire and into a pool of water. Toughness = 1
- Arctic Enema – Jump into a dumpster full of ice and water. You then have a small plywood wall you have to go under which freezes you even more before you can climb out. This isn’t as tough as it is physically and mentally draining. I didn’t have much of a problem with it thanks to my attire. Toughness = 2
- Underwater Tunnels – You have to be able to swim to do this. You pretty much swim out, go under big blue barrels that are tied to platforms (there are four of them) and then climb out. Easy, if you can swim and it was rather pleasant to just relax a bit. Toughness = 1
- Mud Mile – Not tough as much as it is draining. You have to watch your footing and make sure you don’t slip and fall like many people did. Its a pretty long path of mud and muck to run through, but there is a lot of this over the entire course. Toughness = 2
- Logjammin – This is a log obstacle where you have to climb over and go under logs. Not very difficult but it does require a little upper body and lower body strength. Toughness = 2
- Hold your Wood – Requires some good upper body strength to complete. You have to hold a large log of wood and carry it around. I can’t remember how long you have to carry it, but it wasn’t totally easy. Especially in a downpour. Toughness = 2
- Walk the Plank – This obstacle is where you climb up a tall platform and jump into water. Its about as high as a high dive, so if you have an aversion to heights, its not easy. To me it was very easy. Jump in, swim, and climb out. Toughness = 1
- Boa Constrictor – Crawling through small inverted tunnels. Going down was easy, more of a slide. At the bottom is water which you get to go through before working your way back up the next tunnel. Going up was a little more tough. I am glad I have good lower body strength. Toughness = 2
- Trench Warfare – These are underground tunnels you have to crawl through. Not pleasant if you don’t like confined spaces, but it isn’t very hard. The rocks you crawl on are not pleasant though. Toughness = 2
- Funky Monkey – This is an incredibly hard obstacle for me, but there is a way out. There are inverted monkey bars and you have to go up about 10 rungs and then back down to complete it. If you don’t make it, then you go into the water below and have to swim. I think this is the hardest because I don’t have very good upper body strength and finger strength, but it isn’t insurmountable since you can swim to the other side. Toughness = 4 if you want to complete it. Otherwise, Toughness = 2
- Cage Crawl – The easiest obstacle of the entire Tough Mudder for me. You pretty much lay on your back in water, and use your fingers to grab the cage above you and pull yourself to the other side. If you don’t like confined spaces, this could be a challenge. To me, this was easy. Toughness = 2
- Electric Eel – This isn’t easy by far. You pretty much have to crawl from one side to the other under barbwire. Except this time you have electric wires dangling down to give you a zap every now and again. You really feel like you are getting punched when this happens. I did a slip and slide maneuver where I got a running start and then slid about 1/4 of the way through the Electric Eel and then power crawled the rest of the way through it. I really got nailed a couple times, but I made it. This really is not a pleasant obstacle. Toughness = 3
- Warrior Carry – This is the only obstacle I had to bail on because my ankle was toast and I didn’t have the upper body strength to do it. Carry one of your fellow Tough Mudders about 30 yards. Toughness = 3
- Kiss of Mud #2 – Same as the first one but this one was a little tougher because the barbed wire was a bit lower and you had to work your arms and legs to crawl through. Toughness = 2
- Bale Bonds – Last year in Amherst, the Bale Bonds were easy. You just crawl over the hay bales and that was it. This year, you needed to get a running jump to get over these huge hay bales. I made it, but was by far not a slam dunk. Toughness = 2
- Berlin Walls – This is the toughest obstacle that Tough Mudder has. These walls are 12 feet high and you have to get over them. The good thing is you have fellow mudders helping each other out. The bad news is that it still requires some upper body strength which I didn’t have by this point in the course. I made it but it was tough to pull myself over both of them. Toughness = 3
- Everest – Its a quarter pipe you get to scale. The only way to get to the top is to find someone to help you at the top. Get a running start and leap up and grab their hands. They then will help you up. Last year I fell my first time. This year, I made it the first time. Just based on the number of fails I saw, I am rating this one a little higher. If you have lower body strength and speed, and someone to help you at the top (which there are always people up there assisting), then you are good. Toughness = 3
- Electroshock therapy – This is the final obstacle and its more of those electric wires that you saw in the electric eel, except this time you have to run through them. You are going to get shocked about 3-4 times, and I fell flat on my face again this year after getting hit in the face by one of those things. Its over fast, but its unpleasant. Toughness = 2
Overall, this was incredibly challenging this year. Not for the obstacles or the length of the course, but because I ended up re-injuring my ankle at mile 8 which required me to walk most of the last 3 miles. We made it, but I was in significant pain. Running up Everest hurt the worst. Even today, a couple days later, I know that I am not going to be running or skating for the next few weeks. I am ok with that though, since I have my Tough Mudder headband.
I am already planning on doing (at least) one more next year.