One Small Orange Headband Was Worth It… Oh, and That Pint of Beer!
By U.K. Sports Correspondent Rachel Argyle
Photo Credit Glynnis Jones / Shutterstock.com
Some of you might call it sport; I call it pure, filthy fun. I’m talking about Tough Mudder – the world’s most popular obstacle event.
The first remark I got when I signed up to my first Tough Mudder last year was “isn’t that the one you get electrocuted in?” Yes, yes it is! This was usually followed with “why the hell would you pay to do that?” On paper it doesn’t sound too appealing – the ice cold water, tear gas, electric shocks and lots of mud over a 10-12 mile course. But throw in belly laughs, bucket loads of team spirit and a refreshing pint at the finish line and you’re onto something special. At least, that’s what over 1 and a half million participants worldwide think anyway.
Last year, I was one of them as I prepared to pop my Mudder cherry. No amount of training sessions with weights, ropes and climbing frames could quite prepare you for the feeling of standing with fellow teammates and other random strangers that signed up to your ‘wave.’ You were moments away from getting up close and personal with lots of these people. There is no time for self-consciousness when you’re screaming out for help to get over a towering wall or out of waist-deep thick mud. Hands fly everywhere and everyone is in it together.
There was no turning back once we all chanted the Mudder Pledge: I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine – kids whine. I help my fellow Mudders complete the course. I overcome all fears.
The atmosphere is nothing like a typical half marathon race – the competitive anxiety is replaced by adrenaline and friendly faces.
My team ‘Only Here for the Beer’ was made up of three guys and four girls. They weren’t lying when they said it was designed to test physical strength and mental grit. I have never felt so hungry in my life. Four hours of stop-start running and obstacles really drains those energy reserves.
Some of the more difficult obstacles are the ones that stand out in your mind. The triumph over adversity is an unbeatable feeling. Trust me, to be maneuvering over a 9 foot wall and realizing for the first time that I have quite an intense fear of heights. Ice cold water is a real field leveller and both men and women were being rescued out of the huge dumpster for fear of hypothermia! Everest (half pipe) was the penultimate obstacle and a real test of the leg endurance. The final obstacle is the one that gets everyone talking – the electric shocks (plus a few hay bales and mud thrown in for good measure). I read a tip to shield your face with your arm as you run and that worked really well (apparently a shock to the forehead hurts like hell). Otherwise, all I can say is run fast and try to stay on your feet!
I’m now in training for Round Two this September and with so many people signing up for more, it speaks volumes about what an exhilarating event it is. One small orange headband made it all worthwhile … oh, and that pint of beer!