It’s a friday and you’re spending too much on drinks in some London bar as per usual. The group conversation has turned to a need for a new life challenge as it did the week before (and the week before that). But on this instance, much unlike those that preceded, someone mentions Tough Mudder. You nod and agree that you’re on it, almost certain that the plans to get in shape and complete a full Mudder course will soon be forgotten behind the bar when you move on to your next drinking hole that evening. This time round however, they’re not.
The next morning you wake up to find you’ve been added to some WhatsApp group named ’Tough Mudder Goons’ (TMG); the plans to take on that new life challenge are very much intact. And on reflection, the whole idea doesn’t actually seem so bad.
The next few weeks see you take on group runs alongside recommended Tough Mudder preparation exercises. The day of the event in question arrives and you survive it. But it’s not quite like how you could’ve ever imagined. Part of you is ecstatic it’s over, and the other half just wishes you read up on some first hand accounts of what it was all like before you found yourself in a pool of mud. That’s where we come in – we’re here for your other half. That half that wants to get stuck in to a Tough Mudder at some point soon, but has no idea what some of the toughest obstacles might feel like in reality.
Here’s what to expect from some of the toughest elements of the full Mudder experience, as told by members of TMG.
The Pyramid Scheme – Tashan Patel
From a distance the Pyramid Scheme challenge doesn’t seem too daunting. We had just completed Mud Mile, and so were more concerned with wiping down our hands to ensure we had enough grip for the next few challenges in our way. However once we reached the obstacle, it was clear that it was more complicated than first imagined. A steep, slippery slope, with nothing to hold onto aside from a wooden ledge of fingertip width at least 10 feet above the base, it seemed that an actual pyramid of similar size would be easier to scale. We had to put our heads together and really strategize how to tackle the obstacle. The only logical way is for two people to lie on the slant, with their feet at the bottom of the pyramid, and the first member of the team to climb onto their shoulders, and propel themselves up the slope, grabbing onto the ledge to reach the first point of ascension. Unfortunately, for our team, this didn’t go to plan, as I did my best Space Jam impression, only to miss the ledge, and knee my team members in the head. This scenario played out twice but on the third attempt, I managed to grab on to the ledge, however my legs were still dangling below me. Determined to not give my teammates concussion with another flying knee, I tried to swing my leg around onto the ledge, only to miss completely, partly due to a cramping sensation in my hip. Losing all sense of independence, I reached out to a random ‘Mudder’, almost begging him to take my hand and haul me up. He obliged without hesitation, and showed the spirit of the ‘Tough Mudder’, and that it really is all about camaraderie and giving a helping hand to anyone that needs it. From that point on, we slowly but surely scaled the Pyramid Scheme, and prior to jetting off to the next obstacle, ensured we also helped enough fellow challengers over the slope. This was undoubtedly one of the toughest obstacles, given the mental and physical strength required to complete it successfully.
Shawshanked – Byron Grant
By the time we got to Shawshanked, I had had enough. Enough of being cold, enough of running up hills at awkward angles, enough of the biting wind that was now cutting through me, but most of all, I had had enough of being wet!
It was with HUGE disappointment then when we climbed the top of yet another steep hill to find warning signals for yet another water-based obstacle. To paint a picture for you, the obstacle required you to climb up through a diagonal pipe headfirst, dragging yourself up using a rope inside the pipe. Once at the top, you had to fall backwards in to the water about seven or eight meters below.
As I reached the top of the pipe, the girl next to me did little to ease my fears as she screamed “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” When she eventually fell, the marshal turned his attention to me. “How deep is it?” I asked. “About 10 ft, but look behind you, that guy will help you.” I turned my head to see a guy with a very reassuring smile on his face, giving me a thumbs up. I was snapped out of my reassurance by the marshal who started yelling “GO! GO! GO! NOW! NOW! NOW!” I pinched my nose and fell. As my shoulders smacked in to water, I twisted around and drifted to the surface, completely rattled and scrambling. When my vision became clearer I looked up at the reassuring man…who was just standing there. Snake.
Arctic Enema – Chris Akerele
I walked into this obstacle with the most nonchalant manner known to man. Literally similar to how WWE owner, Vince Mcmahon, used to strut out the No Chance in Hell every Monday night.
My teammate TP, warned me of the dangers of this obstacle beforehand, suggesting from the name, that the water may be so cold, excretion may part from my body as a result. I laughed it off, replying that the obstacle is “calm”. Oh lord, if I only knew.
As the length of the line to enter the obstacle became shorter but the depth of the screams became louder, I somehow will still nonplussed by the challenge I was about to face. I finally reached the entry point, where I was about the experience something that I had never felt before.
I got chucked down a chute into water that could only have been prepared in the North Pole and quite frankly, the screams that came out of my mouth were reminiscent of Kanye West’s on I Am a God. I dived in the water, full of confidence and arrogance; I climbed out of the water full of shock, fear and confusion. My head leaped out the water looking for someone to save me. God? My Mum ? Sergio Ramos ?? My skull just dwelling over the dirty arctic water until I heard shouts of “SWIM!”
I meandered to the shore of the deep pool, where I slowly crept up the shore in pain, where I met the dishevelled faces of my teammates and fellow tough mudder participants. What was the thing I said to myself as I saved my self from the frozen hell they call Arctic Enema ? DAMN!