This review hopefully serves as an honest portrait of completing a Tough Mudder for someone who is maybe just getting back into fitness or someone (like me) who is comfortable running, but not really all that interested in doing tons of pull ups and squats.
After months and months of burying my head in the sand to the fact that I'd booked the 10 mile Tough Mudder Classic race, I tentatively started training for it. I knocked out a couple of 5ks which weren't too bad and then increased the distance up to 8 miles and then to 10 miles. All in all, I probably did about 5 - 10 training runs in the time prior to the big day.
Unfortunately due to a small logistical error, we had to settle on booking a Tough Mudder race in Gloucestershire which meant a two and a half hour drive each way from London. As we drove down the M4 the tension was definitely building; a cig or two to calm the nerves probably wasn't a good plan, but hey ho.
We arrived at the country estate where Tough Mudder was being hosted. There were lots of gym-y people everywhere as you would expect - lots of lads & gals dressed head to toe in lycra etc etc. The warm up prior to the race was a bit cringy - crowd participation always makes me barf.
The first couple of obstacles were all good - the only one I struggled with was the high wall which you had to climb over. Switching from focusing on maintaining a steady running pace to doing something extremely upper body intensive is something I hadn't prepared for, and I must say these obstacles were probably my least favourite part of the whole day.
I think my least favourite obstacles would probably have to be:
- Arctic Enema - Plunge into an ice bath - you don't really expect your breathing to be as disrupted by this, but it really threw me off. Coming up for air, you end up gasping and then unfortunately you have to submerge yourself once again to clamber out of what is essentially a skip full of ice. The one advantage is that if you were flagging from the running before this obstacle, the ice gave me a huge boost in terms of freshness and I managed to knock off the next couple of miles after the obstacle with relative ease.
- Funky Monkey - Monkey bars with an Ninja Warrior style wheel that is meant to spin! Unfortunately it seems like someone forgot to WD-40 up the spinning wheel, making it very hard to transfer onto the monkey bars. Felt a bit ripped off by this.
I think the most uncomfortable elements of the day were being constantly soaked head to toe in mud and then having to run, and then being soaked in freezing water, with this flip flopping between being very muddy or drenched repeating itself pretty much the entire race. This definitely took it's toll on my mental state throughout the race, and is not to be underestimated!
We kept our pace up, with a few pitstops and a few times where we walked through some hilly bits, but if you are a prospective Mudder worried about not being able to keep running, then take some solace in the fact that the majority of those doing the 10 mile Classic run walked throughout the latter part of the course.
Aside from the bad obstacles mentioned above, most others were pretty easy. There were a few piss take ones like wading through a river that I felt could just be dropped completely as they were a waste of time.
It's a "bit corporate" isn't it?
Throughout the day, we felt like Tough Mudder had basically monetized absolutely every single element of the day - you can pay an extra few quid to buy the "First mud" add on which enables you to be the first on the course, the parking cost us £15 quid, on top of the already extortionate race fee, which was an absolute rip-off for parking in a field in the middle of nowhere. They were even stingy with refreshment giveaways at the end of race at the finish line. If you are someone who gets a bee in your bonnet about this sort of thing, then you will not like this event.
All in all
We finished the 10 mile course in around 2 hours 30 minutes, which given the hold up at several of the obstacles, we felt was a pretty good time.
It's a fun day out, and you definitely come away feeling great about what you've put yourself through, and you will definitely come away with a ton of cuts, bruises and grazes. The hose down at the end was probably my favourite part because it was the "thank fuck it's over" moment that I'd been awaiting for months.