You ever have one of those “Oh $hit” moments?
You know, that moment when you stop yourself mid-stride, mid-sentence, and mid-thought to be struck frozen by a singular, blinding epiphany? Only one thought echoes through your cranium at that exact point, and all you can ask yourself is “oh my God, what have I got myself in to?”
Yes! That’s the moment when the only response to your internal rhetoric is…
That was me last Saturday and along with nearly 17,000 other people, I made my way to Whistler, BC, to participate in the largest outdoor obstacle challenge in Canada.
Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. As the leading company in the booming obstacle course industry, Tough Mudder has already challenged half a million inspiring participants worldwide and raised more than $3 million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. But Tough Mudder is more than an event, it’s a way of thinking. By running a Tough Mudder challenge, you’ll unlock a true sense of accomplishment, have a great time, and discover a camaraderie with your fellow participants that’s experienced all too rarely these days.
For those that know me, I’m not – I repeat – NOT a runner! So why would I subject myself to a 12 mile run? Because it was a challenge and not a race. I love this about Tough Mudder. Over the last couple of years I have complained and externalized about my running, and now was an opportunity to put my whining aside and take on not so much a physical test, but for me, it was completely mental. The usual dialogue in my head was going off: “what are you doing?” “you can’t run that far!” “you aren’t going to be able to finish this”… and so on and so forth.
Well, time to shut those voices up and just get it done (or at least go down trying). So I ask you, when was the last time you put yourself up against a challenge that you perceived as being insurmountable?
We arrived early at Lot 4 in Whistler Village to load onto a bus full of other would-be Tough Mudders. The energy was high and you could easily pick out who were CrossFitters and who were just your atypical extreme, adrenaline junky. LOL! The trek to the Olympic Park was long and winding but as we made our way along the road I could feel my butterflies churning (or maybe it was the shake I had for breakfast). Man, what was I doing?
The bus dropped us off about 1/2 a kilometer out from the registration area. Our hike in overlapped part of the course where we were able to catch a glimpse of a few Mudders already 9 miles into the course. They looked dirty, sweaty, cold, and like they were having the time of their lives. In a few hours that would be us. After reaching TM registration we received our challenger bibs, and had our numbers marked with permanent marker on our arms, foreheads and legs. We later found out from the emcee that this was so they could “identify our bodies” in the event that the course overtook us. Again my inside voice was asking, “WTF am I doing here?”
Our team, “My Name Is Mud“, consisting of Zach, Owen, Daniela, Anthony and myself gathered together and made our way to the start line. Our start time was high-noon, but as per the registration area volunteers, as teams were ready to go they could fill the staging area. The staging area which spanned about 400 feet long by 100 feet wide, had one entrance and one exit. The entrance was a 6 foot wall separating those that were there to race versus those that were there to cheer, support and watch in awe. Mudders had to scale up and over that 6 foot wall, and once in the staging area would find themselves alongside 600 Mudders, with the only exit in front of them under the waving banner “START”. With the staging area full and the anxiety of the crowd growing, the heat preparation begins.
The emcee was amazing. His preamble contained motivating facts about the Wounded Warriors Project, recap some of the injuries sustained in earlier heats (shoulder dislocates, ankle sprains, broken leg and a ton of non-life threatening injuries), as well as engaging in dialogue between himself and the crowd. There we were sandwiched in shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, 600 Mudders deep.
“I say Tough” you say “Mudder”, repeated back and forth as the Mudders became more and more frenzied, just itching to get onto the 12-mile course that laid in front of us. The emcee, from TM HQ, was masterful and clearly orchestrated many a TM event. He asked the crowd to “take one knee” and “repeat after me the Tough Mudder pledge“. We repeated every word. We stood, we sang the Canadian National Anthem and that was it, he counted us down… 10, 9, 8, 7… 3, 2, 1 go! And all the Tough Mudders made their way out onto the course.
The course, which I later learned, is considered one of the toughest courses yet in the series of worldwide Tough Mudder courses. Not having a point of reference to compare to, I’m just going to trust their call and assume that it was. (“WTF am I doing? )
Of all the obstacles we encountered over the 12-mile course, I have to say my top 3 were:
All in all, it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I did it and I got the headband to prove it. I’m writing this post from my hospital bed in St. Paul’s hospital 6 days after completing one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever undertaken in my life. And yes, to answer your question “would I ever do it again?”
YES! In fact, I’ve already put my name in for next year’s race and I’m considering doing the Tough Mudder in Seattle in September. Want to join me for either? Let me know. I’d be happy to share an O.S.M. together!
So who’s joining our team, “My Name is Mud” next year?
Here’s the short official video of the Vancouver Tough Mudder…
This article was written by Dai "The Moose" Manuel
Dai Manuel is a dad, husband, Fitness Town COO, Toastmaster, Crossfit Coach, Ambassador with Visalus & Fitfluential. How can I help you reach your goals?