Review: Tough Mudder
Guest post by Aimee Quantrill
In January of this year I moved to Liverpool for my dream job as a copywriter. The only downside is that I spend a lot of my time at a desk not being very active. Logically I thought I should do something to combat this. Illogically I decided that thing would be to train for a Tough Mudder, which is a 12 mile obstacle course created by the Special Forces.
After roping in a friend I spent the summer training extremely hard. This mostly consisted of running three or four times a week, along with upper body strength training, squats and many, many push-ups.
I tackled the Tough Mudder on the 7th of September and good God was it difficult. Now that the bruises have faded and I’m no longer hobbling around the office, here is my run down of the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Finishing was simply epic and I nearly cried. I had spent so long training and in the lead up I had to listen to a few doubters imply I would never be able to finish. On the flip side I had a crazy amount of support, but the closer it got the more I had a genuine, and not totally unrealistic fear that I wouldn’t be able to complete the course, so running across the finish line was one of the best feelings in the world.
The huge amount of money raised for Cancer Research UK is a massive good point. There were times when I wanted to just call it a day and collapse on the side of the course in a ‘you go on, leave me behind’ sort of way, but the fact that so many people had donated made me realise I had to finish. It would be too embarrassing if I didn’t…
The fact that I am the fittest I have been in years is another huge bonus. Last year I was living in Thailand, where you couldn’t exercise without people running along beside you taking pictures. Then when I came back to England I spent every day eating cheese and doing little else. Unsurprisingly I was extremely out of shape when I moved to Liverpool. However the fear of embarrassing myself at the Tough Mudder meant I trained pretty damn hard, so I’m extremely fit right now and back to enjoying my daily runs.
The outfits were outstanding. I opted for boring shorts and T-shirt, but there were guys in tuxedos, two dressed as old ladies complete with walking stick and Zimmer frame, a girl wearing a top stating ‘I thought this was a 5k’ and an impressive amount of smurfs.
Island Hopping was a new addition to the course and I loved this obstacle. A bit like Total Wipeout where you hop from one float to the next across the water. I went for speed over accuracy and completely failed, but it was a lot of fun.
The camaraderie was very much appreciated too and it really got me through. At the start of the course you all make a pledge to help each other out and people really take this to heart. My team consisted of just me and my friend, but I didn’t have to ask a single person to help us with the obstacles. Not because they were easy, far from it, but because every time we looked like we might struggle someone instantly offered to help boost us over the 10 foot wall or grab our hand as we tackled the greased up half pipe. Whenever anybody looked like they were flagging there was plenty of back patting, encouragement and words of advice to make sure as many people as possible made it to that finish line.
The fear is another thing you can’t prepare for. A lot of the obstacles are both physically and mentally challenging. Your body just does not want to crawl through tiny tunnels, swim under cages or jump off 20 foot high walls into a lake. Quite understandable really. The thing that got me through was my team mate Steph, who tackled every obstacle without batting an eyelid. Not only did this spur me on, it also made me realise everyone would know that I pussed out if I tried to skip over anything. As a result, I just jumped right in.
Speaking of jumping, the jump in water, run, jump in more water, run further thing was not only physically draining but mentally exhausting. I also thought a majority of the running would be over level fields. Could not have been more wrong on that score. Up hill, scrambling on all fours, soaked to the skin after 10 miles is pretty tough.
The bruising also ain’t fun. My knees, head, arms and shoulders all sustained war wounds, although I was oddly proud of them. However I was wincing so much on the train home the next day my fellow passengers must have thought I’d had one hell of a night out.
The Arctic Enema. There are quite simply no words to describe how horrendous this obstacle was. I was full of confidence before hand. A quick dip in some cold water, swim under the plank, pop out the other side and skip on your merry way. Hell no. The water is full of ice, so it is the coldest thing I have ever experienced. So cold your body goes in to shock and you can’t take a breath. I just panicked and got straight out. However I knew I couldn’t claim to have completed the Tough Mudder if I didn’t do each and every obstacle, so I very, very reluctantly got in and dived under without any air. It was without a doubt the scariest thing I’ve ever done. You can’t work out if you’re still under the plank, your head is pounding and your body is screaming from the cold. When I started punching the ice to get out I got so confused I thought I might be punching the floor. When I did emerge it took every ounce of strength to pull myself out of the other side. Then I had to run 10 more miles and complete twice as many obstacles. Even when we finished the entire course the words on everyone’s pale blue lips were ‘Arctic Enema’.
The electric shocks at the end were also not great. Basically you get to the last few yards and all that stands in between you and the finish line is a five metre sprint through wires charged with 10,000 volts. I decided to go for the sprint and scream strategy, which resulted in three very painful shocks to the arms and head. I was shaking so much after I could only just hold my pint…
So would I do it again? Well it was brutal in every sense of the word, but they aren’t kidding when they say you get bragging rights. I’ve raised money for an amazing charity and I’m insanely proud of how much I achieved and how far I pushed myself too. Maybe all I need is some time to forget the electric shocks and I’ll be ready to sign up for next year…. any takers?