Tough Mudder: A Runner's Review
Tough Mudder is one of the leading names in mud events, successfully running over 100 challenges since 2010 and raising over £5 million for charity. Each event is 10-12 miles long featuring industry leading obstacles that not only test your mental grit but also how well you work as a team. With its five point pledge, legendary obstacles and a free beer at the finish line, this event is a must do for anyone wanting a new fitness challenge!
I've wanted do Tough Mudder for a long time, but missed the sign up last year, plus, I'm a bit of a cheap skate so I hadn't gotten the money together in the past! Tough Mudder looked like it has an amazing atmosphere, epic obstacles and just a massive amount of challenges - the whole 9 yards so to speak! I decided to sign up for the volunteer event which involved working for 6 - 7 hours to get entry at a discounted rate. Incidentally, the volunteer event in itself was also great fun.
Training and Preperation
I hadn't really done a lot of exercise before so I knew going in to this it was going to be a big challenge and I'd need to really push myself to the limits. I started off by going to the gym two or three times a week and slowly built it up to four times a week after improving my fitness levels. I focused mainly on cardio knowing that I'd need to have built up my stamina and endurance to run the 11 miles for this event.
I also looked at the official Tough Mudder Training guides to get some ideas of what other excercises would help me other than basic running. The guides are a great resourse and contain detailed information on squats, push-ups, burpee’s etc and for me as a beginner it was really helpfull, but I'd recommend even experienced runners to give them a look too.
Picking the right clothes
I really had to think about what I wore - I knew I would get covered in mud and it was all-but certain that I would ruin whatever clothes I took! In the end I opted for a plain t-shirt, some 3/4 length tracksuit bottoms, cheap running socks and trainers. Now that I have the mudder experience, I would definitely not recommend wearing tracksuit bottoms. They easily got weighed down with the large amounts of of mud and water and kept falling half way down my backside!!
With that knowledge, next time I go I'll opt for something more along the lines of cycling shorts or something very close fitting. The other people I went with all wore those style of clothes and managed the day with no problems.
Let's get muddy!
One of the first things I noticed on the day was that the organisation of the event was superb. Parking at the location was between £5 - £10 and there was plenty of spaces for everyone involved. The event area itself is all fenced off with a massive entrance where they provide you with your printed ticket, wristband and your runner number. Once you get inside the arena, there's plenty to see and it's easy to find where you need to be - everything from the bag drop to the start line were all marked and sign-posted clearly.
The next thing you'll notice is the sheer amount of participants at the event. I can't quote a number for the northwest event but when I volunteered at Sheffield there was about 7000 people attending including racers, people camping and spectators. All the obstacles were fantastic, they test every part of you and make you work as a team and not many obstacles can be done solo!
I found one obstacle in particular - the "Cage Crawl" - pretty challenging. You have to float through a caged trench filled with water, pulling yourself along using the cage bars above. I didn't float very well (likely due to the aformentioned tracksuit bottoms!) which meant my head kept going underwater and I panicked a bit every now and then. Everybody else seemed to manage fine though and said they really enjoyed the challenge of it.
The marshals and volunteers at the event were incredibly friendly and helpful, they just seemed very happy to be involved with it all. Once you hit the finishing line, a volunteer crowned me with a Tough Mudder orange headband, a Tough Mudder t-shirt (made by Under Armor, so quality is great), a protein bar and bottle of water. Best of all though was the alcoholic ginger beer at the finish line which I felt was much needed too after what I'd put my body through!
Final Thoughts of Tough Mudder
All in all, Tough Mudder was an amazing experience. I went in super-excited and left with a massive sense of accomplishment. At nearly 12 miles long, it's certainly not an easy task, but I’ve never felt so satisfied to finish anything else in my life. It's something that everybody should try regardless of your current fitness level. I saw some people who were entirely ripped and others who might have had a few too many preparation snacks before the event. Everybody managed to finish the event at their own pace and because Tough Mudders are legionnaires, you get any help you need from fellow mudders with any obstacles you might struggle on…. nobody gets left behind!
If you fancy taking on Tough Mudder have a look at their challenges here