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Tough Mudder Arizona

Tough Mudder logo

If you ask me, Tough Mudder is the pinnacle event of the mud running season in Arizona. There are tons of mud runs popping up all over, each promising a challenging course that will push you to your limit. This may be true for some, but there are only a few out there that truly deliver on that promise. Tough Mudder is one of them. At ~12 miles in length and  21 obstacles, the course will challenge…everyone.

Here is what Tough Mudder says about their event:

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.

We arrive at the Mesa Proving Grounds early in the morning, even though our heat wasn’t until 11am.  I like hanging out, watching the other competitors, and just soaking up the atmosphere.  As usual, registration was a breeze, with basically no wait in line, and girls armed with black markers eager to tag you with your race number.  We find some of our group in the pre-arranged meeting area and watch some of the big guys toss a beer keg.  Some of the first runners are starting to come in, and we head over to the last obstacle to watch the dramatic finish.  It’s just as brutal as I remember it from last year.  10,000 volts is not kind to people, and that is exactly what Electro Shock Therapy delivers as you make your final dash for the finish line.

Tough_Mudder_StartAs our starting time approaches, we leave our gear at the bag drop, and make our way over to the staging area. Once over the 7 foot wall, it’s competitors only, and this is usually where reality sets in. The MC starts his roll and yet again delivers an amazing speech and really gets the crowd pumped. He instills in you that this is not a race, but an event. This is not about course time, but about camaraderie. We are one big team pushing through obstacles, some physical, some mental. After a few rounds of a guttural “OORAH!” the count down begins and before we know it, we are running through a cloud of orange smoke, knowing that we will be tested and pushed for the next 4 hours.

Tough_Mudder_Artic_EnemaAfter a pretty good run, the pack of several hundred thinned out, as it usually does.  The first main obstacle we come to is the Arctic Enema, a huge trough of ice water. Watching people’s faces contort as they hit the cold water was priceless.  Halfway through this obstacle is a large beam that forces you to submerge your head in order to continue to the other side. The trough was packed with enough ice that you have to push your way through it and pull yourself out. Jumping up and down we force ourselves to move in order to shake off the stinging cold. Another mile down the course, I am still finding ice cubes in my pocket!

Tough_Mudder_Artic_Enema Tough_Mudder_Berlin_Walls

Tough_Mudder_Cliff_Hanger We scale walls, crawl through the mud and run and run, as you would expect. This year there were two mud hills that are insanely slippery, and it takes some ingenuity to get to the top. Where do you get mud like this? There is absolutely zero traction, and we saw lots of human ladders and teammates crawling over one another. The best hill has a sweet mudslide down the back.  Don’t tell anyone, but I did this one twice.

Walk the Plank is a 15-20 foot leap into a deep mud-hole and comes much earlier on the course than last year. We had a few in our group that were not looking forward to this jump and even thought they might skip it.  After a quick free-fall we plunge into the cold, muddy water and swim for shore. Very proud to say everyone on our team faced their fears and conquered them. The only problem was out of the 4 GoPros on our team, we lost one. It sank to the bottom in full record mode. The water is too deep and murky to find anything, and we have to leave it and keep going.  We decide to try to retrieve it after the event.

Tough_Mudder_Walk_the_Plank

Tough_Mudder_Fire_Walker Seeing a column of smoke, I knew we were approaching the fire obstacle, and it was more intimidating than most.  Jumping over the line of burning logs sent you into a muddy hole about 5 feet below, and several runners stopped short only to back up for a second attempt.  It was one of the best fire obstacles I’d seen. Not sure what it is about running and jumping through fire and smoke, but people dig it.

Tough_Mudder_Fire_Walke

The Electric Eel was a new one for us–well, just different from last year–the difference being that it was turned on!  The Electric Eel is a 20 yard belly crawl though a foot of water and–oh, yeah!–electric wires overhead.  Pretty sure everyone got nailed at least 3 or 4 times before sliding out the other end.

Tough_Mudder_Eletric_eel

Tough_Mudder_Boa_ConstrictorThe Boa Constrictor can be mentally challenging for some, and physically for others, as you squeeze through a long tube and get dumped into yet another mud-hole.  That usually goes as planned, if you are not afraid of confined spaces, and our team seemed to handle this well.  The second tube is where it gets tough, as it is slightly angled up and all the mud and water makes for a slippery climb. One of our teammates is working his butt off, but the progress is slow.  The whole point of this event is to work together, and so I crawled back into the dark tube with just my feet sticking out. I am able to just barely reach Larry, and we clasp hands while Robert takes hold of my feet.  With one big pull, Robert yanks the both us out of that tube like a pro.  Pretty sure I’m 2 inches taller now.

Tough_Mudder_Water_Fence

The Tough Mudder crew really put together some great obstacles, and you can tell this is not their first rodeo. A lot of thought and time go into the build process for some of the obstacles, like the Funky Monkey and Hanging Tough. The biggest constructed obstacle has to be Everest, which is a 50 foot wide, 12 foot tall half-pipe, and it can be a struggle to reach its “summit.” A lot of team work comes into play as we scramble to pull one another up to the top.

Tough_Mudder_Hanging_Tough

Tough_Mudder_Everest

Tough_Mudder_Electro_Shock_TherapyAs always, the final obstacle is Tough Mudder’s most infamous. Electro-Shock Therapy is anything but therapeutic as you sprint though knee deep muddy water, jumping over hay bales, dodging dangling electrified wires that are impossible to avoid. It is hands down the most dreaded, the most feared thing out there. This obstacle is no joke, and when you get hit with the full 10,000 volts, it’s pretty much lights out. We all got together once we reached this final stage.  I could see the finish line through the tangle of wires, and tried to think of a plan for coming out on the other side, alive. Unbeknownst to me, the plan was to sprint through as fast as possible as our group takes off at top speed, and I follow. I enter the obstacle at top speed and clear the first hurdle and then…it all goes dark. In my mind, it is quiet and I am running… but not here, somewhere else. The best way to describe it, would be an out-of-body-experience. It feels like I was there, in my happy place, for several minute before the rush of sound and pure chaos floods over me. I am completely disoriented and survival instincts must have kicked in, because I am somehow on my feet again and running though, what feels like to me, a battlefield. I get the full brunt of it once more before spilling out the back end. What takes only 20 seconds to get through, feels like 20 minutes in my head. The first thing I realize was that I have lost my GoPro during my unconscious face-plant into the muddy water. I tell the staff member, and with a sly smile on his face, he invites me to go back in and get it. In my mind I say “No thank you, sir,” but what actually comes out of my mouth was language that should not be repeated here. Luckily, I see the strap float up near the side and he gives me  3 seconds to grab it before he turns the juice back on.

Tough_Mudder_Electro_Shock_Therapy

I receive my coveted orange TM headband, my free T-shirt,  find my team and take our finish line picture. Someone points out that I have an 8 inch piece of the braided wire hanging out of me.  It must have punctured my shirt and broke off and is most likely the reason I got nailed so hard.  I have to say, it’s the best souvenir I’ve ever gotten from one of these events, and one I’ll be keeping for a long time.

Tough_Mudder_Wounded_WarriorThis is truly a team event.  We were all pushed hard and overcame individual challenges as a team.  We have fun every year, because we build our team with good people and good friends, and we will continue to do it year after year.  People always ask why we do this.  It’s difficult to explain so we just tell them it’s Type Two Fun… it’s fun when it’s done.

-TTF

 

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Race Feedback:

Things that SUCKED!

Crazy, but I can’t recall one thing that I didn’t like.  After Electro-Shock Therapy it’s all a bit fuzzy.

Things that ROCKED!

  • Parking was great with zero wait in line.  Free parking if you had 4 or more in your carpool.
  • Registration was simple and quick.
  • Plenty of Porta-Jons.
  • FREE bag drop!!! Seriously!!! (other events should take note)
  • Starting line MC was awesome and very motivating.
  • Obstacles were everything I expected and more.
  • Music on the course, that was kinda cool.
  • Headband and t-shirt are both UnderArmor and good quality.
  • Everything seemed well organized and efficient.
  • A diver was able to recover Robert’s GoPro!  We have 90 minutes of  HD 1080P blackness to prove it.
Conclusion:  Tough Mudder is a well run event that does exactly what it said it would do…challenge you.  We’ll be back next year.  I just need to find a better way through that last obstacle.

 

 


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