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Monday, May 3, 2010


Day 487 - May 2, 2010

Mission Accomplished! The Tough Mudder was an absolute blast! I was really hoping to have a ton of photos to share, but my crack photography team (wife and daughters) went down with a stomach bug and couldn't make it to the race. Bummer, but thankful they didn't share it with me. I'll post anything I can get my hands on from Brightroom when they go online.

I was fortunate to be in the 2nd starting wave (there were 10 waves of 500 people each. If you ever have a chance to do a race like this, getting in the early waves is very important - I'll explain more later.

The day started with the gathering of the first two race groups in their respective corrals. The climb up the hill was quite exciting, and I was eager to go. The problem is I had an hour to wait before my start time. Some shade or tents would have been nice, and I expect they will have them at later events. Sitting in the sun cooking for an hour was not ideal.

The first group was off precisely at 11:00 to a hail of fireworks. It was pretty awesome. The second group then moved down to the starting area and we waited to be released.

At 11:15 we were off and moving in mass down the snowless tubing hill. While not that steep, it was difficult to start with that many people. The photographer trying to get the start somehow ended up right in front of me and I plowed right into him - hope he signed the waiver too!

At the bottom of the hill we turned around and had to climb all the way back to the top up a maintenance road. It was steep in parts, but I was able to run most of the way. A lot of people started walking at the bottom of the hill so I had to weave in and out of a lot of slower people. At the top of the first climb was a 100 ft long pile of snow. I dropped down on my hands and knees and did the mandatory sweaty Yeti crawl. With temperatures in the high 80's, I didn't mind the snow at all.

From the snow pile it was a gentle down hill run to the next obstacle, the Devil's beard, a long section of cargo nets that you had to run underneath. As I approached the net, I saw the guy in front of me turn around and run backwards. It was brilliant! In stead of getting tangled in the net, it simply slid up my back and over my head. I backpedaled as fast as I could and was out in no time and on my way through the woods to obstacle 5 where I picked up my log and was off up the hill. I carried the log like a football, switched arms a couple of times, but was up and back down the hill much faster than I expected. So far, the obstacles were pretty easy, but that was all about to change.

The Cliff Hanger (#6) was as tough as advertised. After dropping my log, the course turned uphill. Uphill is a bit of an understatement. Vertical is a better description. I don't know if people actually ski down that slope, but it was ridiculous. People were dropping like flies. Most were crawling. I zigged and zagged my way up the slope trying to take some of the slope out of the hill, but it was still like walking in slow motion. I don't know the exact vertical change, but someone said it was about 500 feet in less than a quarter of a mile. What a relief to finally get to the top and start the two mile trail run.

In the woods, I really started to enjoy the event. The trail was in great shape and there was only one fallen log to get over. I passed a good number of people from the first starting group in the woods and they were all very gracious in making room for me to go by. The tire tunnels (Boa Constrictor)turned out to be plastic drainage pipes about 24" in diameter. Thank God. The thought of climbing through old tires sounded very hard. The pipes were much easier and I slid right through them. From there it was a short run to the mud pit (Swamp Stomp).

The people ahead of me at this point were slowly walking into the mud and taking their time. I was having none of this and jumped in at full speed splashing mud and water everywhere. It was awesome. I just kept going and made it down to the Kiss of Mud barbed wire crawl.

This was the second of the really hard obstacles. Literally, the wires were less than a foot off the ground. I had to lay completely flat to get under them. I have to say I was really glad they went with straight wire and not barbed. No one would have gotten out of there without stitches at that height. The wires were less than a foot apart as well and they made the path zigzag in a Z shape. By far, the hardest of the non-hill obstacles. I was scraping so hard on the ground that I ripped my race bib right off my shirt and never found it.

After the wires, it was a mad dash (controlled fall) down one of the ski slopes to the water obstacles. I assumed I would last about 5 seconds on the rope bridges and have to swim across the lake. Turns out, I did much better and made it all the way across without falling. With that boost in confidence I went straight to the under water tunnels and swam under all three blue barrels. From there it was a short run to the next pond and was back in the water with a dive off the 6 foot high planks into the deep water. Not being a good swimmer, this was a hard obstacle for me. After jumping in, I had to swim out past a buoy and then back to shore. I was pretty tired when I finished the swim, but there were walls to climb.

To help people get through the obstacle, they built 4 walls and you had to climb over 2. I scaled both fairly easily. From there I ran up and down the hill to get to the giant Slip and slide. The Tough Mudder folks had put down clear plastic and were pumping water to the top of the hill. I don't know how high the hill was, but it took several seconds to get to the bottom and I was sliding fast enough to skip across the water when I hit the lake. I felt my hip hit a rock on the way down, bu didn't think much about it. When I got home, I had a nice baseball size bruise that was a pretty cool shade of purple.

Crawling out of the lake for the last time, I ran the final half mile to the fire pit. This ended up being a bit anti-climactic. Instead of running through fire, the path was lined with burning straw. So you just ran between two fires. No where near as exciting as described. The final 17th mystery obstacle is the greatest mystery as I still don't know what it was. There was nothing there. I guess the insurance company must have said that truly bad-ass was not going to fly. I sure am glad I paid 20 extra buck for event insurance (which was required)to have the insurance company make everything less dangerous.

The only real negative I have to say about the race were the lines that backed up at the obstacles later in the day. 10-20 minute waits were common and the water slide backup was over an hour before they closed it down. I was fortunate in the second group that I never got backed up. I felt bad for the people who basically had to stop racing once they hit the water obstacles.

All in all it was a great event that I would do again. I hope that future events will be tougher. This was not the toughest thing I had ever done. I finished in 57 minutes - way faster than the predicted average of 2.5 hours. I think the course was shorter than the reported 7 miles too. I doubt I ran 8 min miles ;) on those hills.

But, it definitely was the most fun I've had in a race and I hope to find similar events to do in the future.

1 comment:

Ace said...

Way to go tough mudder! Great report. Sorry to hear they had to back off on some of the crazy stuff, but it still sounds tough to me!