Mile 35: Tough Mudder Obstacles…A Challenging Variety

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There are a couple different reasons why people always sign up for Tough Mudder events. Some people like the fact that it’s an untimed event centered around teamwork. Others enjoying a 10 mile hike with plenty of obstacles, most of which are different from year to year. Whatever the reason may be, both are true of Tough Mudder. Each obstacle requires teamwork of some sort, whether it be a physical push or mental words of support. Tough Mudder is known for their obstacles. They have some of the best ones out there that don’t require you to be in the gym five times of week. I’m not saying anyone can complete a Tough Mudder, but if you surround yourself with the right people (physically and mentally supportive) your chances of getting a headband increase significantly. It’s also fun to sit back with your friends months or even a year later and say “remember that obstacle…” or “we did that.” I’m constantly having conversations with my teammates about races, but specifically obstacles. It’s a bond I’ll share with them forever.

What I really liked about this recent Tough Mudder race was the majority of the obstacles were different. Yes, they had their “known for” ones, but overall the line-up was pretty new and better. I can only carry a bag of sand, bucket of rocks, climb a rope (well technically not), get across a rig or pull something heavy so many times before it gets boring. Sure, it’s challenging, but I’m a fan of variety and challenge. This is where Tough Mudder set themselves apart from any previous OCR I’ve ever done. The obstacles this time were challenging and a variety. Believe it or not I was more sore from the Tough Mudder than the Spartan Beast. Maybe I worked some different muscles with all of Tough Mudder’s different obstacles? So let’s take a look at all these obstacles that caused me such soreness. I’m only going to cover the obstacles that are new, revamped or weren’t at the 2015 race. These are in order from beginning to end.

  1. Shawshanked: I started with a barbed wire crawl then transitioned to crawling up a narrow sewer pipe. There was a rope in the sewer pipe to pull myself up, but I didn’t find helpful. Once at the top I dropped myself into a pool of muddy, in our case cold, water. The water is only 4 ft. deep so swimming skills are not necessary. It’s a fun obstacle even if your claustrophobic.         shawshanked
  2. Balls To The Wall: there was a vertical wall I had to climb over using only two tiny footholds and rope. Once at the top I then climbed down using the rope as leverage. Not technically a rope climb, but at least I can say I climbed a rope. There was a line at this obstacle.ballstowall
  3. Pyramid Scheme: this was a revamped obstacle for Tough Mudder, but new to me. The only way anyone is getting to the top on this is through teamwork. I don’t want to brag, but our team made it look easy. It was an incline slip wall that we had to build a human pyramid to climb up. Our strategy was pretty simple. We put our strongest guys at the bottom and let everyone else crawl up. I crawled up second and helped pull everyone else up one by one. When we got to our final two people we created a human chain and had our bottom person crawl up over everyone then pulled the chain of people up. It was awesome to see this come together and only took roughly eight minutes to complete. Others were struggling with this obstacle. This was one of my favorite obstacles of the day.scheme
  4. Block Ness Monster: formerly known as Roll The Dice at World’s Toughest Mudder. There was three sets of rotating blocks in a pool of water that we had to “ride” each block to get over. The trick to this obstacle is to keep the block moving while others hang on. Since we kept the blocks rolling we didn’t run into too many issues with this. Once we got a few people on the other side of the block they would help pull the block down while others rode over. It worked like a well oiled machine. Oddly, even though we were in water it was quite warm…almost enjoyable.blockness
  5. Hold Your Wood: this was the most physically demanding obstacle of the day. We had to carry a wooden log around a makeshift course. For this obstacle we split our team into men and women. Since we had eight total people it would have been difficult for all of us to carry one log. Even four people proved to be difficult with different heights and strengths (I was the weak link). Twice during the course we had to overcome two wall obstacles. The first wall we had to lift over the wall and the second wall there was a hole in the middle of the wall, which the log just barely fit. It was tricky, but again required a lot of teamwork. Someone on our team had the bright idea of picking the heaviest log…bad idea.
  6. Backstabber (legionnaire exclusive): this obstacle was initially tough for me until I figured out the trick. It was a single peg board on an incline that I had to climb up and over using only the pegs and very tiny footholds. Most of the footholds were covered with mud, which added more of challenge. On my first attempt I failed. Then with the help of a stranger at the top he told me what I needed to do. I held onto the peg and lifted my right leg (stronger leg) to the first foothold and was able to stabilize myself to get to the next peg hold. This worked out tremendously better than the way I tried first. backstabber
  7. King Of The Mountain: simply put…hay bales.These were stacked high. We climbed up and over.kingofmountain
  8. Bale Bonds: more…hay bales. We had to climb up and over them. Some of them were unsteady, but overall a safe and easy obstacle. The worst part about hay bales is if you are allergic to hay. I felt it pretty good the next day. balebonds
  9. Rain Man: I was a little nervous about this one after seeing some videos and photos. We were in water with a cage above to float or pull ourselves to the other side. From the pictures it looked like we would be right against the cage with only a few inches to breathe. Luckily, for me there wasn’t a lot of water in the pool and I was able to safely make it across. 13010657_10154085765072790_4583566236833243899_n       
  10. Frequent Flyer’s Club (legionnaire exclusive): the last obstacle I encountered before crossing the finish line. It was also the obstacle that got me out of another Electroshock Therapy session. It was an OK obstacle. I climbed to the top, waited while they performed “maintenance” then jumped for the swinging different colored bells and landed on the pad below. I was able to hit the bell, but not the one farthest away. After I jumped and landed the volunteer told me to land on my butt, instead of my legs. Too late. Also, nothing is more annoying then performing maintenance, while you are at the very top of the obstacle.  ffc 

Other Obstacle Notes

Mud Mile 2.0: was completely different this year. It was shorter and we only had to go through them once, instead of twice last year. They were still tough, but it was nice only being covered in mud one time.

Everest 2.0: my biggest question with this obstacle was how was the rain going to hinder our efforts getting up. There was no rain so I cannot answer this question. I would imagine it would be pretty difficult. Also, when you’re at the top of this obstacle you can feel the heavy winds on a miserable weather day.

King Of The Swingers: they moved the swinging bell out 11 inches compared to last year. I could tell because only a few people hit it. Dean was one of them though, but not Keith this time. 13221626_10154165570147790_3948675576025465513_n

Overall it was an awesome obstacle course they developed. It was very physical and required a lot of teamwork. I’m looking forward to their 2017 line-up. If you’ve completed a Tough Mudder let me know what you thought about their obstacles, what they are doing right and what they need to improve.

In my next mile I’m going to take a different course and talk about virtual running. Yes, it’s a thing and no it’s not fake (Cait thinks they are).

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