Want to get in great shape? Push yourself to the limit? Bond with your friends? Party and meet fun, new people? You should check out the Tough Mudder. It’s a twelve mile (or so) extreme mud run filled with multiple fun and difficult obstacles. Several thousand participate over a two day period.
Now, I want to talk about my experiences at the event for anyone thinking of running it. I’ve done five Tough Mudders (3 Kentucky, 2 Pittsburgh). I’ve dealt with cold and hot weather. I wished someone had written a how-to guide about the experience, so this represents my general observations and tips to help you succeed at this event.
I did a fairly intense regimen of Beachbody Insanity (and its sequels Asylum 1 and 2 and Max 30), supplemented with running (six to eight miles), hiking, and hill sprinting.
This regimen prepared me above and beyond what was needed. The upper body emphasis gave me an edge on the obstacles and the core work kept me steady on the muddy hills. I spun around, slipped and slid, but never fell.
As far as the distance of my practice running, it was more than enough. The stops at the obstacles, as well as the walking necessary on the treacherous downhills, meant that I was never required to run for twelve miles straight or anything close to it. My hill sprinting allowed me to run up the hills even when others were walking. I was blowing past the competition.
I wore a breathable top made of polyester. It was nothing fancy or expensive. It worked well to keep me dry. The shorts I chose were just normal ones. Big mistake. They held water for a long time. My shoes were fine, but they did seem to loosen frequently.
My advice is to plan your entire outfit to keep you dry and not neglect any aspect of it, especially in cold weather. I should’ve worn long sleeves and long pants during the October one. Oh, and the duct tape fell off my shoes (and the shoes of others given the trail of duct tape everywhere) quickly.
Make sure your laces are tied very tight and double knotted. And, make sure they fit properly to begin with. Oversized shoes, however slight, will have more of a tendency to slip off. Some of the muddiest areas were littered with abandoned shoes. Duct tape was everywhere. It’s worthless.
Gloves with a grip can be helpful, but aren’t necessary. They can lessen your hands getting beaten up, but are of limited use on the obstacles, which were already wet and muddy. Cut out the fingers.
Race Registration and Prep
Parking is usually done fairly close to the event. Sometimes it’s close enough to walk, other times it required getting on a shuttle. Usually the lines for shuttles are not long. However, I advise arriving to the event around ninety minutes before start time. I like to get hydrated and have a light snack. Don’t drink or eat too much or you’ll be weighed down.
Once you get there, you get in line and check in using your ID and event ticket. Again, there isn’t a huge line most of the time. I put on my wristbands, checked my bags for 5 dollars (also a short wait), and we readied to start. This has been the case with all five Mudders. Smooth and easy.
We peed (a couple times) and got in the long line for our heat. Since it’s not timed, they didn’t seem to enforce actual wave times. The line of people was super long and we had to stand around for about forty five minutes. This is why it’s important to get there early. You will wait a long time before you finally get to leave. I kept moving to keep my muscles warm. Finally, we went to an area where an emcee explained the rules and gave us a pep talk. We listened to the Star Spangled Banner and we were off!
The link to obstacle specific advice is below. During the course they provide ample water and a good deal of food items, although small (like bars, bananas, etc.). Spectators and staff (including medical personnel) are rarely too far away. They have portable toilets too, but they’re spread out. If you feel like you have to go, even a little, take advantage of the bathroom when you see it.
After I finished, I got my shirt and headband, then left straight to retrieve my bag. They also offer a beer. Afterwards, I hit the showers, which were close. The lines were fairly long, but not too bad. Bring shower gel with you. The lines to change were long.
I would highly recommend bringing a towel. It can be used to cover you up to change outside and dry you off immediately.
The next day I woke up insanely sore, pretty much everywhere. But, it was a great reminder of my accomplishment!
It was incredibly fun! I’m doing my sixth Mudder this summer. However, I will only do this type of race in warm weather from here on out. The cold was a major, major problem at my first event. Nonetheless, I only have positive words about the overall experience. I highly recommend the Tough Mudder! It’s awesome!