Last Saturday I decided to run the Tough Mudder with my dad. If you’ve never heard of the Tough Mudder, Vail Daily describes it as a “triathlon on steroids.” I participated in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The event is 10 miles long and is scattered with some of the most physically brutal obstacles one could imagine. This year’s event had 20 obstacles that had names such as ‘Artic Enema,’ ‘Ladder to Hell’ and ‘Electric Shock Therapy.’ All of these obstacles are created by the British Special Forces to push your body to the limit and test your overall mental determination. These events are held all over the world and the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project. So far they have raised over $5 million. The event I attended in Beaver Creek had over 10,000 people. When you arrive you get a bib with your number and your number marked on your face. Then you pass Tough Mudder volunteers giving participants war paint to prepare them for the race. The participant’s ages ranged from 18-60. Some participants were there to win it all, dressed in speed suits and cut up, showing their training they had been doing for months. Other participants were there just to see if they could make it, dressed in swimsuits, tutus and various other costumes. Then there are the people who are an inspiration for everyone. In particular, there was a wounded war veteran who was in a wheel chair with no legs, and no he wasn’t watching, he was participating. He had a team of six helping him get through the race. In the beginning before they send you off there’s a loud speaker reminding the participants it’s all about teamwork and helping one another through. It’s all really quite inspiring.
The first mile you run all uphill—literally straight up a ski slope. When you get to the top, the first obstacle is waiting for you. This obstacle consists of climbing up hill on your belly underneath barbwire. You have to pull yourself up the mountain while staying low in order to not hit your head or back on the barbwire. Other obstacles consisted of climbing over walls, skiing down ice on your feet, carrying logs, monkey bars, rings, and many more. The two hardest obstacles were the Artic Enema and the Electric Shock Therapy. The Artic Enema was around mile 6. In this obstacle you had to jump into ice water and swim under a barrel. The water was so cold that my body went into shock. When I came up I couldn’t breathe or move and I almost threw up. This obstacle truly tested my mental will. For the next half mile after that I just had to focus on getting my legs to warm up again. The other obstacle that kicked my butt was the Electric Shock Therapy. This was the last obstacle of the race right before the finish line. It is a field of uneven ground— covered in wet mud—with live electric wires hanging from above your head to the ground. Some of these wires have as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock running through them. No matter how fast or vigilant you go through it, you are going to get shocked. My strategy was to run through as fast as I could. When the first shock hit me my body convulsed and dropped to the ground, making me face plant in the mud. After this there was no way to get out, I had to power through. I got up again and proceeded to sprint until I was dropped again. Finally I made it out and could see the finish line. I can honestly say it was the hardest but most satisfying thing I have ever done.
When I finished I just wanted to collapse to the ground, curl up and stay there, but I knew my body needed fuel. They were handing out power bars and bananas at the finish line, but I had planned ahead and knew exactly what I wanted and needed, a Rush Bowl. My mom and boyfriend were waiting for me at the finish line—Rush Bowl in hand. I can honestly say I never ate a Rush Bowl so fast. I chose the energy bowl because after a race like that I needed something that would refuel my muscles and mental state. The bowl was the perfect consistency and temperature. The mix of fruit and B12, along with the cold, helped get my body back where it needed to be. It gave me the energy to stay and enjoy the event and be able to watch other participants finish. Needless to say I still have cuts and bruises and my body is sore, but the Rush Bowl was the perfect meal for after a race. Not too heavy, not too light, but exactly right.
“Arctic Enema: This obstacle is all about mental grit. Many athletes use ice baths for recovery, but you’ll have a difficult time relaxing your muscles in this freezing skip. First you must jump bravely into Big Mudder’s floating iceberg abyss. Once submerged, find the mental and physical strength to swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before hypothermia sets in.” (Toughmudder.com)
“Elecroshock Therapy: Sprint through a field of live wires — some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. Watch out for hay bales and deep mud, or you will face- plant into some electrifying mud. Some MuddersSM try to stealthily wind their way through the wires without getting shocked, while others barrel forward to get through as quickly as possible. Either way, you are guaranteed to get zapped with as much as 10,000 volts of electricity and it does NOT tickle. This is always the last obstacle Mudders must overcome before they cross the finish line. (Toughmudder.com)”