|I just ran my first Tough Mudder yesterday. For the uninitiated, it's a 10-ish mile obstacle run through mud. The obstacles are things like walls and ramps that require teamwork to complete. It's not really a competition unless you want it to be. My five-person team completed it in around 3.5 hours.
My first observation is this: Damn, white people sure do like their mud runs. This is something I first noticed a few years ago. The Tough Mudder came to town, and then a bunch of mom-and-pop races followed suit. And I don't know if it's because of the demographic in my area or the friends I have on Facebook, but it seems like the only people who do mud runs are white. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but damn.
The race itself wasn't all that terrible. It's the farthest distance I've ever run at one time, and I didn't run out of stamina. The obstacles were mostly fun. I'm in moderate physical shape by doing weight training and running, so it was rewarding to be able to use my strength to climb up walls and ropes and help other people do the same. One obstacle consisted of jumping into a pool of ice water, which didn't turn out to be as bad as I'd thought. I was already cold and wet, and despite some brief hyperventilation, it wasn't that bad.
The electrical shock as the final obstacle was fairly bad. You had to run through dangling wires and jump over hay bales. I made it over the first set of hay bales while getting shocked pretty hard, and the next thing I remembered was the pain of my face hitting the mud, which was after the second set of hay bales. Apparently I blacked out and continued moving, which was good I guess, but also kind of unsettling because I didn't realize you could black out by getting electrically shocked.
The weather was rainy and in the 50s. The rain didn't matter because everyone got wet anyway. But the temperature was a struggle. It's difficult being shivering cold for three hours (and then blacking out by getting shocked with electricity). It wasn't as cold as it could've been, but I wouldn't have minded if it was 75 or so.
I'm not sure if it was a New Jersey thing or what, but the lines were stupidly long. I realize it's a popular event and it's a crowded state, but I didn't expect the first obstacle to be standing around in the cold rain for an hour before the race actually started. And they kept getting our hopes up and making us wait some more. It was a little demoralizing. Several of the obstacles had long lines too, which was annoying when you were trying to keep warm by running, only to have to stop to stand around in cold puddles.
The end of the event was kind of poorly done. The organizers (and participants) kept talking about the free beer and headband you got as you crossed the finish line. But when you're cold and wet and exhausted, all you really want is something warm and dry like a giant bonfire or a heated pool to wash some of the mud off. Instead we stood around shivering holding our ice cold beers, trying to get the mud out of our eyes after faceplanting unconscious.
I realize that's a lot of complaints for a completely voluntary activity, but that's kind of my thing. All in all, it was a fun experience, and I would consider doing it again in slightly warmer weather. #sports