Mile 34: Event Day Experience – Philly Tough Mudder 2016

Philly Tough Mudder 2016 was incredible. Seriously, it was one of the best course set ups I’ve seen in my short OCR career. The venue was the same, but the course difficulty this time made this a “tough” Tough Mudder. Now I’m not a Tough Mudder expert, since I’ve only completed two Tough Mudder’s, but they took a difficult course from 2015 and made it more challenging in 2016. This is exactly what I want from an OCR. This is how I know the money I put into these events is worth it. It wasn’t just the course that was difficult, but the obstacles this year will make it very hard for my end of the season awards. They had lots of different obstacles, some from the previous year, but the majority were new or didn’t make the list last year. If you love obstacles (like me) and teamwork (like me) then you need to sign up with your friends for a Tough Mudder!

I mentioned previously that I wasn’t with The Running Dead for this Tough Mudder. While I missed my teammates, I had a great time with everyone from Where’s Dean? Everyone worked well together and had a great time. I hope I get to complete another Tough Mudder or another race with these guys and girls again. I felt honored to be apart of this team.

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The Course

I was predicting all week that the course was going to be a wreck with all the rain we had and were expected to get on race day. It was surprising to find out that the course wasn’t torn up by the time we started. I’m not a huge fan on running on torn up courses. It slows me down and increases the risk of injury. I’m willing to bet the course on Sunday was a mess (it rained again all night). My favorite part about this course was how Tough Mudder utilized all the land around them. They used the rolling hills better this time and took us to different parts of the farm. I wish the weather was nicer because it would have looked awesome out there. It’s really a beautiful farm and when not being torn up by Tough Mudder it’s used to host horse shows. This is one of the major reasons why it stunk at times…If you want to be apart of a picturesque course I suggest this Philly course.

The highlight of the course were the steep inclines they found and made difficult to get up. At one point people were digging with their hands into the ground to find roots to hold on to while climbing. Yes, I was one of these people and it worked out well. Others had the bright idea of using sticks like ice picks to climb up these muddy and slippery hills. It was a lot of fun seeing the creativity out there.

If Tough Mudder set up the exact same course again next year I wouldn’t be upset. Believe it or not, I felt more sore after this race than the Spartan Beast. Now, the Spartan Beast was more difficult, but I think this course made me utilize a lot more muscles. I hope Tough Mudder returns here next year.

The Obstacles

I don’t even know where to begin with the obstacles. Just know they were all awesome. My obstacle success rate was 100% for each obstacle I attempted. I skipped Funky Monkey 2.0 and King of Swingers. Next year I’ll try Funky Monkey 2.0 because the water is only five feet deep. The majority of obstacles this year were different than last year. Yes, Arctic Enema 2.0 was there, but it wasn’t as cold as 2015. The cold October air could have made it worse then. Also returning were Berlin Walls, Kiss of Mud 2.0, The Liberator, Devil’s Beard, Hero Carry (I carried Becca and then she carried me), Everest 2.0, Ladder to Hell, Mud Mile 2.0, Birth Canal, Skidmarked and Electroshock Therapy. Each of those obstacles I completed.

I’ll get into more detail about Tough Mudder’s newest and revamped obstacles in my next post, but this event had a ton of new obstacles compared to 2015. My favorite of the new one’s was Pyramid Scheme. I don’t want to brag, but our team killed it on this obstacle. We created a quick plan and it worked from start to finish.

The obstacles were so much fun that I wish I could do them again. What was the best part? All the teamwork that was involved. We helped each other and we helped strangers. Strangers helped us too. Tough Mudder is the only community where you don’t need to ask for help it’s always given.

Biggest Surprise

It didn’t rain…a lot! Prior to the event and while driving there the rain was heavy at times. It seemed like were doomed to be soaked before getting to the first water obstacle. However, the rain stopped right as we lined up and only sprinkled for a few minutes around Mile 5. If it had rained during the entire time we were out there it would have been a miserable experience for us all. Luckily for us we avoided this huge obstacle and were able to finish. I still wish the weather would have been nicer. Hopefully before I retire I’ll get to participate in at least one Tough Mudder where there is sun and warm temperatures.

Biggest Disappointment

I really had to think about this one because I felt everything went smoothly on Saturday. There was one issue though. There were lines at some of the obstacles. Now I wouldn’t have minded if the weather was nice, but every time we stopped to wait in line I got cold again. We hit major lines at two obstacles (Balls To The Wall and Everest 2.0). It wasn’t fun waiting, but skipping these two obstacles wasn’t an option. For the record we didn’t hit any lines in 2015. I’m not sure what was different about this year compared to last year.

Overall Assessment

Out of the three races I completed in May this was my favorite. The obstacles were awesome and the whole day was amazing. I felt I got my moneys worth again and then some. I love the teamwork centered around Tough Mudder and the camaraderie amongst strangers. Everyone out there is working towards one goal. It also helps when you have a great team like I did both years. They are there to push and help you when needed. It’s an experience I can’t really put into words. When I cross the line with the team it’s a true feeling of accomplishment.

We didn’t let the weather dampen our spirits. It was tough at times, but we overcame it together. This Tough Mudder was better than 2015, which means that 2017 should be better than 2016.

SWAG

I got my finisher headband and my 2x finisher headband at the finish line. A lot of people complain that they get a headband, but I think they are cool. I’ll never wear mine again, but that’s besides the point. It’s something different and something I can display proudly. The finisher t-shirt was nice too. A huge upgrade from the cotton t-shirt I got in 2015. This shirt is all polyester and will make for a nice workout shirt.

The only disappointment was no finisher towel this year from Cellucor. Lame!

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Side Notes

I have more funny videos that I’ll post…one day.

A lot of people liked our team name Where’s Dean. Dean’s shirt said “I’m Dean” which made a lot of people say “Dean is right there.” It was a lot of fun.

We estimated it took between four and four and a half hours to complete the entire course. This was an improvement from 2015.

It was cold, but not even close to the cold we experienced in 2015.

Registration was quick. Keith ran into an issue because they didn’t have his first race recorded from last year. He got a 2x headband anyway. A volunteer said that only 25% of people’s previous races were recorded correctly. Tough Mudder will have to find a better way to keep track of this.

This was was harder physically, compared to 2015 which was harder mentally.

We had no issues with the parking or shuttle ride. No one’s vehicles got stuck in any mud.

Bag check was crowded. I brought a trash bag this time incase it ended up on the ground. $5.00 to check your bag is an annoying price to pay. Bag checks should be free!

My only complaint about Tough Mudder is their event registration process. Lots of hidden fees and they need lots of information. Also in order to join a team, I had to transfer my registration from individual to team. I don’t think anyone else is like that.

I don’t have a race this weekend, but I have four races coming up in June. In my next post I’ll go a little more in depth on the new and event specific Tough Mudder obstacles.

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