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Last year my friend and I decided it would be a great idea to sign up for Tough Mudder. Never done it before, always wanted to do it. We just went for it. And I’m so glad we did.
I’m not new to doing events – I’ve done plenty of running races – but Tough Mudder is a different kind of ball park. You are constantly reminded that it isn’t a race, and to make it work you just need to get stuck in and help where you can. It was a completely different experience to anything I’ve done before, and here’s how it went.
Not all Tough Mudder sites offer camping (and i heard talk that this option may be scrapped altogether) but North West did, and it was honestly such a great experience.
The camping package gives you the chance to stay from Friday to Sunday so you can experience the full Mudder weekend. As we were running on the Sunday, we just arrived on Saturday at around 5pm. It’s perfect for volunteering as you would be volunteering on one day and running the other, and doing that you get all camping/parking free.
Now because we like to be awkward, we arrived at the camping check in and enquired about upgrading from our Half Mudder to a Full Mudder. The volunteers could not have been more helpful or more entertaining. It took a good hour or so to sort us out (mostly because we were in the middle of nowhere I reckon – I had no signal all weekend!) but they were so lovely.
Camping included a bar at night, a stupidly difficult pub quiz and the chance to speak to others. Many people doing the Tough Mudder for the first time and many legionnaires.
If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend camping. It makes the morning of your run so much easier, especially if running around 9am like we were. No worrying about getting up super early, travelling down and getting in position.
The mudder village has plenty of food/drink places, things to do and places to sit and relax throughout the day. We only visited afterwards, but well worth hanging around a little to soak up the atmosphere.
There were also a few freebies to grab in here, as well as the opportunity to get photos taken. After finishing, we watched some of the later waves getting up Everest and Pyramid scheme as you could see these from this area.
In the starting area there was a bag drop (somewhere to keep a change of clothes/towel and whatever else you will need), and area for showering and the usual race information points. There was also a table with buckets of sharpies for you to draw on yourselves.
We were allowed into the warm up pen as soon as our time hit, and it seemed to be running very smoothly. Our start time was 9:15 and I reckon we probably set off at 9:45 ish. There was a short warm up, and then we walked down to the actual start line. Here we had a bit of a speech to listen to including the safety rules and a pep talk.
The Tough Mudder North West Obstacles 2018
- Bale Bonds
- Sewer Rat
- Kiss of Mud
- Hero Walls
- Hero Carry
- Mud Mile
- Log Jammin’
- Block Ness Monster
- Creek Crusade
- Birth Canal
- Electroshock Therapy
- Funky Monkey
- Alpha Test 2
- Sewer Rat #2
- Kiss of Mud #2
- Arctic Enema
- Creek Crusade #2
- Twinkle Toes
- Alpha Test 3
- Pyramid Scheme
On the full Tough Mudder we had 21 different obstacles to complete, 24 altogether including the repeats. We completed them all except for Funky Monkey, simply because we knew we would fall into the water below pretty much straight away, and it was already filled with people who had dropped.
There are a few that I didn’t like, but for the most part each obstacle was a good challenge. Here are a few of my stand out ones.
You came up to this obstacle just seeing pipes that you had to crawl through – you couldn’t really see what was at the other side (Though the pipes were not long – you could see the light at the end!) and many made the mistake of going head first.
At the other end you have to drop into a load of mud, and it came up to the bottom of my chest roughly if i remember correctly. Of course plenty of people purposely dove in head first, I’m sure. Anyway, this one was thick muddy water and the route out was a high muddy bank. I had a couple of guys pull me up each time we did this one. Wouldn’t have gotten out otherwise! The muddy water was cold, and this was the first shock to the system.
I think this one was probably my favourite, it was so much fun. It was basically just mud pools with little hills in between. So we were just climbing up one side and then sliding down into the mud below. It’s like a party on that obstacle.
The photo at the top was mid-mud mile and you can just see how much fun we were having.
Block Ness Monster
This obstacle consisted of a deep pool with big rotating blocks across the width of it. You had to hold onto an edge of the block, and let the weight of people on the other side take you over. Once you were getting to the other side of the bock, you had to keep hold to keep the rotating momentum going.
This water was cold, and much deeper than I expected. I was on my tip toes to get my shoulders just out of the water! It was good though, and I kind of wish I’d taken it a bit slower.
When I saw people talking about this one, they always said how much they hated it. Another crawling one, but this time under a plastic cover that was holding water. How bad could it be?!
If you have any slight worries about feeling claustrophobic I would really think twice about doing this one. There’s just so much pressure on the top of your body and you’re having to pull yourself along the floor. It was SO tough. This one I did not enjoy doing.
There were two electric ones this year. The first was the one you see on all the videos with people screaming as they run through… well I ran for it, got one little shock on my leg and that was it. It wasn’t even bad.
The second was an Alpha Test (so it was brand new) and this one was right near the end. My arms really struggled to pull me along. Who knew army crawl would be so difficult?! The muscle that joins your arms to your chest were absolutely aching for days.
In all honesty, I wasn’t that impressed with either of these. The first one just didn’t really get me – I kind of wanted to understand why everyone else was screaming, y’know? The second was pretty much just an army crawl – you’d have to be really sticking your bum in the air to accidentally tough the electric lines.
This obstacle consisted of a big wall with holes in and you had to use pegs to climb up it. The sides had jagged edges to place your feet, but they were pretty small spaces. We stood in the queue watching people ahead attempting it. Struggling to keep their feet in those edges to stop slipping down. So many just walked around this one.
With my upper body not being the strongest I thought I’d struggle, but surprisingly we both got up there without too much of a problem! My feet slipped a couple of times but there was someone at the bottom who let me use their hands as a step to gain my grip again. People are great. We were proper chuffed after managing this one.
Oh the one I was dreading! We climbed up this scaffolding to get to some pipe slides. These dropped you right into an ice bath. A freezing cold ice bath that completely disorientates you. You pop back up and all you can hear is the volunteers telling you to quickly go back under to get through to the other side.
Honestly without their guidance, so many people would just be stuck. They were there pushing you to keep moving and get out safely. I had asked a lovely lady if she could hold my glasses whilst I did this one and when I get out at the other side she was there to stick them back on my face!
I am SO glad I pushed myself to do this one. The cold is a complete shock and nothing like what I’ve ever experienced before. It took a good 10 minutes afterwards running the shock off before I felt normal again like, but after that I actually felt completely refreshed.
This one looks scary, but in actual fact it’s really not all that high if you give it a good sprint run up. I did have two guys waiting with their hands out for me to grab as I got to the top, but I managed to do it and walk over.
It’s one that definitely makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something though – it is quite a high wall really.
The Tough Mudder Aftermath
You don’t realise just how muddy you are until you start stripping down. The shower area had a bit of a platform with a load of hose pipes attached to act like showers. The water was absolutely freezing, but you know, what else can you do with so many people?
It was a communal shower area and everyone was pretty much just stripping down to underwear. No time for embarrassment here! I took off my top and realised just how muddy I was thanks to the lines from my sleeves and socks. This actually took a proper good scrub, and I only managed to get rid of the line after a hot shower later that day as well as a soak in the bath.
The Aches and Pains
I ached all over, in places I’ve never ached before. And it took a good few days before those aches disappeared. You just don’t realise how much of a full body workout you are doing throughout the actual course. It definitely hits you afterwards.
Was it worth it? Absolutely yes! I would advise booking way in advance and taking advantage of the early bird prices. You save so much money. Even better, you can apply to volunteer too and either get money off your Tough Mudder race or get it free depending on what shift you take on.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be signing up for next year too, and probably volunteering. It’s a challenge, and it’s something different to the usual races I do. I loved it. How about you? Ever done or thought about a Tough Mudder?