Here it is, folks - the blog you've been waiting for! (Well, assuming you've been waiting for a Tough Mudder race report...)
The Wisconsin Tough Mudder is an 11-mile, 21-obstacle event. It is not a race. You finish only through teamwork. I joined with a team of five people: Aaron, Jeff, Michele, Peggy, and me. So, what's involved? I'm glad you asked!
Obstacle 0: Find the starting gate
Before reaching the starting line, we had to scale an 8-foot wall. Jeff gave me a boost and I jumped over the top. Very clever - if you can't make it over that wall, you've got no business doing the event. Once we were all in, we got a pep talk, sang the national anthem, and waited for the clock to read 9:40 am. Then we were off! We ran for about a mile through beaten down corn and raspberry plants.
Obstacle 1: Kiss of Mud
Here we had to belly crawl under barbed wire strung 8" above the ground. The ground was a shallow mud pit, which was not too difficult to move through. I had some trouble, though, because my shorts kept falling down! The resistance of the mud kept dragging on them. But I made it out with all parts covered and got to experience running while covered in thick, heavy mud. It's interesting, to say the least!
Obstacle 2: High Steppin
This was a grid of 3' walls that we had to climb over, maybe 8-10 of them. They were too close together to hurdle, so I just sat on each one and swung my legs over. In hindsight, I should have alternated sides, because I ended up with a big bruise on my butt...but just on one side.
Obstacle 3: Mud Mile
This was my favorite! We slogged through deep mud that could have sucked off our shoes. There were 5 or 6 trenches that were dug into the path and filled with water. We slid down them, sometimes falling over a bit, but mostly staying upright. That is, until after the last trench. It was very slippery from all the water runoff from the participants. I slipped sideways and effected a very graceful, slow motion fall into the mud. The photographer sitting nearby complimented me on best fall of the day and bemoaned the fact that he missed taking a picture of it.
Obstacle 4: Berlin Walls
After a muddy, slippery climb up a steep hill, we ran a bit farther and reached a set of 10-foot walls. I have a lot of strength, but also a bit of heft, so I have a hard time pulling myself up. So Aaron knelt on the ground and I stepped on his back so I could reach the ledge they gave us. But I freaked out and jumped back down. I have a horrible fear of falling, and it led to some less-than-stellar moments during the event. After a few moments of deep breathing and a pep talk from my teammates, I tried again. I stepped on Aaron, then the ledge, then Michele's shoulder, and then I was at the top. I swung over, hung for a few seconds, then jumped down. And then there was another one.
That one went much faster, since we had a successful method. Unfortunately, I tried swinging over a different way, and I lost my grip. Luckily I was on the right side of the wall, so when I fell, I was at least done with the obstacle! The fall was unexpected and fast...I scared the team next to us. They checked on me, but I got lucky - no injuries.
Obstacle 5: Underwater Tunnels
A short run later, we came upon a little pond. The pond was supposed to have rows of barrels floating on the surface that we needed to swim under. Unfortunately, the obstacle wasn't set up yet (it had rained all the previous day so there were many delays), so the lifeguard just told us to duck under 3 times and pretend we were going under a barrel.
Obstacle 6: Arctic Enema
The most reviled of all the obstacles! We had to swim through 15' dumpsters filled with ice water. But there was a board in the center of the dumpster that we had to go under, ensuring full submersion under the 6" layer of ice on top of the water. Oh, and the only way out was to hoist yourself up and over the edge...not something I'm capable of right now. Luckily my team was there to drag me out before I got too cold. I have to admit the ice bath felt very good!! All the pain in my joints went away (at least temporarily).
Obstacle 7: Bale Bonds
Did you know hay was slippery? It is! This was a pyramid of hay rolls to climb up and over. I'm guessing it was 8' high. Jeff climbed up first, and then I went. I ran at the hay at a full sprint and managed to take a whopping one step up the side before sliding back down. Jeff grabbed my hand, but it wasn't enough. I went back to the start and tried again. This time, another man grabbed my left hand while Jeff grabbed my right. I kept trying to gain purchase to help climb up, but found nothing. I was ready to give up, and then felt a hand on my foot, pushing up. So I was able to find another foothold further up, which was just enough to make it to the top. Then I just slid down the other side. I was happy to be over! Suddenly, though, my throat closed up and I had lots of trouble breathing. Panic attack? Hay allergy? I don't know, but it was scary. My team pushed me along the path to get away from the hay and my breathing regulated.
Obstacle 8: Trench Warfare
Further along the path, which was winding and mostly uphill, we came across this daunting obstacle. Trenches had been dug in the mud and covered with plywood, essentially creating underground tunnels we had to crawl through. I got nervous, since I'm claustrophobic, and you couldn't see light at the entrance of the tunnel. But Michele agreed to follow me and push me to keep moving if I panicked. In I went, and crawled across very jagged and slippery rocks. It actually wasn't that bad, except that I could tell my skin was getting torn up. I tried bear walking, but my butt hit the plywood, so that didn't work so well.
Regardless, I was thrilled to have made it through that trench!
Obstacle 9: Logjammin
This was is probably my second favorite. They built a structure out of logs, kind of like a fence. You had to climb over a wall, then crawl under a wall, then over, under, over, under, etc. until the end. Since the logs were alternating direction, you could climb them like ladders - lots of space in between. It was really fun!
Obstacle 10: Firewalker
And then, not so fun. This obstacle was a path through kerosene-soaked hay bales that were 4' high and on fire. The smoke was thick and nasty. We were approached by a firefighter, who said "Ladies, my name is John. Please put your shirts over your mouths and hold your breath as much as possible. I want you to call me if you need anything." We joked about which one of us he was hitting on (probably none) and headed in. The smoke burned my eyes, and I quickly lost sight of Michele. She started coughing, which was awful, since it made her take in more smoke. But we made it through, stinking of kerosene smoke.
And now it is time to go to sleep. But I'll finish my report tomorrow!