Tough Mudder was tough but was it for the wrong reason?
By Megan Smiley, May 1 2014 04:29PM
Last weekend I took on, what the organisers call 'Probably the toughest event on the planet', the 12 mile obstacle course that is Tough Mudder.
For those who aren't familiar with Tough Mudder it is a course with 20 military-style obstacles spread over 12 miles some that are pretty easy – crawling through a plastic tunnel, some that are physically demanding – monkey bars with an incline and decline with the bars slicked with mud and grease, and quite a lot that are mentally challenging - jumping in an ice filled tank, jumping off a 15 foot plank into muddy water and running through hanging live electric wires.
Since 2010 over 1.3 million people have taken on a Tough Mudder event worldwide and thousands of people entered Tough Mudder London West which took place over the last weekend of April. Many were returning for their second, third or more Tough Mudder experience earning the title of 'Legionnaires' and receiving a different coloured headband at the finish line. So it's obviously popular but as a first timer to the event I have to wonder is there more hype and disorganisation than toughness?
I'm sure the many people who loved the experience (and continually made grunting noises along the 12 mile course, although waning a little towards the end) might disagree and although I'm not claiming the course was easy; it was very hilly, there was a lot of mud that made it difficult to walk let alone run at points and there were obstacles that were pretty challenging. The biggest hurdle for myself, and for my fellow 8 team mates and from what I've heard on the grapevine for lots of other people, was not the course but the (unnecessary) coldness.
This was not due to the 5 or so obstacles that involved you getting completely soaked, which I'm absolutely fine with if you then carry on running and scrabbling over walls and such. But if you are completely wet from head to toe and then have to wait 20 plus minutes in a queue for the next obstacle you're going to get cold, and I did, teeth chattering, lips turning blue cold.
I heard some of the very encouraging, helpful and friendly stewards discussing that people are only to be allowed one attempt at the 'Balls to the Wall' obstacle as people were falling off the other side once at the top because their muscles were seizing up due to getting so cold when waiting in the queue. This was the second longest queue we waited in and it took about 20 minutes. I also heard that people were taken to medical tents due to getting so cold whilst waiting in the very orderly queues that were assembling at a number of points on the course.
So to sum up my Tough Mudder experience, although I did enjoy the event I would have liked a little more toughness but in a form that requires some sort of skill, be it physical, mental or otherwise, not something that if the participants had more body fat (which there wasn't much of at this event) then they would be at an advantage and probably find the toughest bit not so tough!