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Though I've already posted about races 8 and 9, I never got around to posting about my Tough Mudder weekend, which were races 6 and 7. This was the beginning of my Tough Mudder weekend to complete both races 6 and 7 by running the course both Saturday and Sunday. This first post focuses on the Saturday event, which I was fortunate enough to be joined by a team of friends who all ran the event together.

For those of you who don't know what the Tough Mudder is, I'd recommend visiting their website and watching some of the videos. Tough Mudder is easily one of the giants in the mud and obstacle racing industry, and also one of the more difficult. Courses range from 10-12 miles, depending on the event, with the Michigan event being 12 miles. This was my 3rd Tough Mudder after running 2 last year, but the first time I ran in temperatures above 40 degrees which made the experience much more enjoyable lol.

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Tough Mudder is also a little different in the fact that it is not a timed event. In fact, Tough Mudder stresses that working with your fellow mudders and helping them to complete the course is more important than how fast you complete. For the most part, everyone adheres to this principle, which creates for an overall positive atmosphere out on the course, is extremely conducive to a team event no matter the differences in physical ability among team members, and participants regularly encouraging and helping perfect strangers to get over an obstacle.

Now on to my specific race experience -
I ran the Saturday event with some fraternity brothers, friends, and some of their friends and family (now my friends too). A big "HAZAA" to Steve-O, Jacki, Alfred, Joe, Joe's dad - Joe, and Matt. And a thank you to them for wearing "Run to Remember" shirts during the race as well to help continue spread the word.

The waves were running slightly behind, well and when I say slightly, I mean about an hour in some cases. However, we made the most of our wait before the start telling stories and bonding with other people in line. When we finally jumped the wall to get to the start corral, they actually just gave us some quick instructions and let us take-off to try to catch up on some time. In that regard, I feel slightly bad for my friends who for them this was their first Tough Mudder because the TM emcee Sean is like no other race emcee out there. You can read about him more in my post aboutSunday.

Through most of the race we ran into quite a few back-ups at obstacles, which again, since it was about 75 degrees out and I had a great team with me, wasn't so bad. We worked well together, went at a comfortable pace for everyone, and encouraged everyone to conquer each obstacle. After completing each obstacle we all came together to do a team cheer of "HAZAA" and moved on. About 6 miles in it started to downpour, with the occasional sideways rain, which made the course and the run in between obstacles even more fun.

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There are a few obstacles that draw the most excitement, sometimes ire for the participants, but overall enjoyment for both spectators and runners. I'll highlight a few here:
        - Arctic Enema - If you've ever taken an ice bath, imagine that. Now take that feeling and think about jumping into a dumpster full of ice and water, having to completely submerge yourself to go under a board half way through, and then claw your way to the other side as your muscles revolt the entire way. For many people, this is the worst obstacle.
        - Walk-the-Plank - This is really only an obstacle if you have a fear of heights. Personally, I don't, so I love this obstacle. Climb up to the top of a 20-30 foot platform and then jump into the pit of water below. Who doesn't love that?!
        - Funky Monkey - Imagine the monkey bars at your elementary school. Now make the first portion an incline and then after reaching the peak, you go back down. It can sound simple enough, but the incline can prove quite the challenge, especially when you add the fact that your hands are already slick with water and mud and so are the bars from participants before. I'm proud to say I made it through no problem both days and was able to avoid dropping into the pool of cold water below.
        - Electric Eel - Army crawl through a pit of water, but hanging above you are live electrical wires carrying 10,000 volts. This is definitely a favorite for spectators, but for many mudders torture - as is evidence by the plethora of expletives and screams throughout the obstacle as people take shocks in the back of their heads and every other portion of their body. Thankfully, in my 4 Tough Mudders I've now completed, I've never been shocked in this obstacle as I've been able to keep my body low enough to avoid the wires.
        - Everest - You've probably seen a half-pipe used by skate boarders, but at the Tough Mudder you run up it. Again, this is a favorite for spectators, probably more when they get to watch people slide back down who don't make the top. This is one of the obstacles where you see some of the most camaraderie among mudders as many who have made it to the top stay there to help grab others running up the half-pipe and pull them over the precipice.
        - Electroshock Therapy - Another crowd favorite because participants run through another tunnel of live 10,000 volt wires. This is the final obstacle standing between you and the finish line. This one is much harder to avoid any shocks with many more expletives being used, shouts, and the occasional mudder who immediately drops face first into the mud after being shocked. Quite the site to behold.


There are about 15 more obstacles, but you can watch my video I'll post soon once it's edited so you can see what else we went through. There's certainly a reason why Tough Mudder is so popular and people flock to participate, even with the threat of electrocution lol. The best part about it, especially in my mind, is the atmosphere. Tough Mudder has made it clear who they are and what they want their races to be like and they execute it almost flawlessly. Even though I've done it several times, my favorite part is bringing along new people who have never done it before and being a part of their first experience and seeing their pride after they complete it.

Up next, my blog post about running it a second time on Sunday, this time without a team.

 


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