Hi everyone, my name is Jamie and I am friends with Athena at her full-time job.  I am back to guest post on Fitness & Feta, and this time I have seriously upped the ante.  The last time I blogged for Athena I was writing about my second Warrior Dash.  This time I am back to write about Tough Mudder.  I thought I was brain-damaged last time and this time I KNOW I must be brain-damaged.  Following my second 5K Warrior Dash I got the brilliant idea to sign up for the 12 mile Tough Mudder.  I did a 3.3 mile obstacle course… 12 miles? Noooo problem.  Riiiight.  As I said, brain-damaged.

TM Logo

For those of you asking “What in the &*%$ is Tough Mudder?”
From their site: “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, 700,000 inspiring participants worldwide to date, and more than $5 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world. But Tough Mudder is more than an event, it’s a way of thinking. By running a Tough Mudder challenge, you’ll unlock a true sense of accomplishment, have a great time, and discover a camaraderie with your fellow participants that’s experienced all too rarely these days.“ Check out this link for a video to get a sense of what we went through that day: http://toughmudder.com/about/.

Anyways, I don’t think I will even be able to come close to doing this event justice, but I will try my best.  For a quick moment, I want to jump back to being brain-damaged.  Yes, seriously.  I signed up alone.  Yup.  Solo, uno, lonesome, no one else – all by myself!  (I know, right?  Crazy…)  Up until the WEEK before I had planned to run alone.  Now, you can NOT get through it by yourself, so I would have relied upon strangers.  I got lucky though.  I just joined a CrossFit gym (I am OBSESSED) and one of the trainers and I were talking after class.  He was running the SAME DAY!  The heavens parted… and I had a TEAM!  THANK THE HEAVENS!!!!  Insert harps playing here and angelic voices singing… Can you hear it??

So the day of the event arrives and my husband Chris, a.k.a. “trusty photographer,”  and I make our way to Gunstock Mountain Resort where this event was held.  (Random factoid – same place as Warrior Dash #2!)   We met up with the 10 other people I was running with, and a few various spouses who were not running.  Queue the intros!  I knew TWO people.  By “knew” I mean I had taken one spin class of Maria’s and had CrossFit trained with Drew once.  We were not well acquainted by any means.  This group welcomed me with open arms.  (Quick shout out to CrossFit Raynham!!!  Seriously… TRY IT.)  I could not have done this without them.  So let me take a moment and say THANK YOU to Lesley, Darren, Erin, John, Maria, Ryan, Casey, Drew, Monique, and Matt!  Back to it… So we snap a few photos and then it’s time to start.

Tough Mudder - Group Before

We hop a wall just to get to the start line, where we hear the national anthem and get pumped up to go.  Well, some of us hopped, some of us got assistance, and some people already looked like they should be going home (not our team, of course.)  Of course, we had to take the Tough Mudder pledge.

TM Pledge

And then we were off!  We ran up the mountain and through the orange smoke.  When I say we were pumped, it is an understatement.  At the beginning we were all smiles.  There were conversations like “So far.. so fun!” Those dwindled as the 4 hours progressed… Here is a link to the course map.

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder Orange Smoke

As you can see, this was no casual stroll.  This included crazy obstacles and 4 times (that I can recall…) of going straight up the mountain.  I can honestly say that I have ZERO, ZILCH, NADA, NO desire to ski there ever in a million years.  But I would do Tough Mudder again in a heart beat.  (Brain damaged… just sayin’.)  As a team we tackled obstacles like hiking the mountain, scaling walls (I was hoisted many times), jumping over fire, running through water with wires that shock you (yes, electricity + water… weren’t we taught this is bad as children?), crawling through dark tunnels, crawling under barbed wire, carrying logs, carrying each other (I got a ride – Thanks Drew!), going across monkey bars, jumping over raised logs, and the list just goes on and on and on… as you can see in the previous course map.

Tough Mudder: Barbed Wire

Tough Mudder Logs

Tough Mudder Monkey Bars

Of all the things they did to us that day, two I will never forget.  The first is Everest.  At this point, we were almost done.  Looking around at my teammate’s faces I saw that we were all ready to be done.  First for the team, up went Spiderman!  I mean, seriously, he ran up it like it was nothing.  Next we went one by one.  Two teammates grabbed us as we ran as far up as possible and hoped like hell they caught us.  And they did!  This is what I mean by not being able to do this alone.  There is no way I could have gotten over that.  And some of the wipe outs…. OUCH is all I can say.

Tough Mudder - Everest

But the MOST memorable one is definitely arctic enema… TERRIBLE.  I know I can’t adequately describe this.  I saw videos of this.  I mean, it was 90 degrees outside and we had been going for miles, so surely this wouldn’t be so bad, right?  WRONG!  DEAD WRONG.  It was the most terrible, yet wonderful, experience ever.  Everyone paired up, most with their spouses, and then me and Drew.  Our spouses were there taking photos of us.  (Shout out to Jocelyn and Chris!  They got more sun than we did and followed us a decent way on the spectator course.)  Some lovely images of us are below for your enjoyment coming out of this retched contraption.  You jump in and then must go under the water to get to the other side.  There’s so much ice on the other side that you can’t really see the light, so you come up, praying you have made it.  In the 30 degree water everything tenses.  Your body kind of freezes (no pun intended).  From the moment you come up, it is pure survival instinct.  I was clawing at the ice, gasping for air, and begging my legs to push me forward and out of this pit of ice.  A savior (teammate) grabbed my hand and pulled me out.  I don’t even recall which guy pulled me out (THANK YOU though!).  All I know is I was happy to be out.  I heard yells like “I can’t feel my balls!” and “I’m a woman!” echoing around me.  Each of us took the time to warm up and then we posed for pics.

Tough Mudder Arctic Enema

Tough Mudder: Arctic Enema

Tough Mudder

At the end, we ran through the dreaded electroshock therapy obstacle and were then rewarded.  We got our infamous orange headband (a.k.a. new rear-view accessory), t-shirt, AND BEER!  What is better than free swag and beer?  Well, really – why did you think I ran it?  For the experience?  Pshhhh… naaaahhhhh.  😉  That was the most delicious beer ever.  After the hell we had just gone through I think Busch Light would have tasted good… seriously… ok, maybe not.  The point is beer was epically amazing, even mixed with warm, dirty banana.

Tough Mudder Electroshock

Tough Mudder Headband

In all seriousness, throughout this entire crazy experience there is such a sense of community and camaraderie.  I really can’t even explain it.  I started off Tough Mudder with a group of strangers and ended it with a group of people I will never forget.  The experiences you share throughout something like this aren’t things that leave you.  I went from a handshake in the morning with these people to going though fire and ice, literally, with them.  At no point was anyone left behind and we all worked together.  I can only hope this crew will be by side when I am crazy enough to run Tough Mudder 2 next year.  (Oh yeah… guys… I already entered my email address to get an early registration notice.  GET READY!  Hehe.)

Tough Mudder Cheers

My recommendation to everyone – Do it.  Do it at least once.  The experiences you come away with are worth the pain.  And if you want to you can support a great cause.  I was a top fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Tough Mudder Jamie

So there you go everyone.  Now… GET TRAINING!  🙂

Thank you, Jamie, for another exciting recap of your crazy race experiences!

Let’s chat – Have you ever done a Tough Mudder before?