As I am left in the mud shaking, jolting and crying from the electric shocks from the final obstacle at Tough Mudder London South, I cannot help but smile as I shake my head and begin to slowly crawl to the finish line as the crowds laugh and jeer at my misfortune.
The infamous “Electroshock Therapy” (an obstacle that has tentacles coming down from it with some containing small electric volts to shock you if you are unfortunate to touch them) continues to divide opinion, with many suggesting that it is a gimmick or a ridiculous concept, but yet my first time back in it after two years of taking the easy option and avoiding it - it is a sharp reminder of just how conventional fitness and events are being challenged through Tough Mudder and their decision to shake up conventional “races” through obstacles and running.
Tough Mudder’s (now recognised as one of the leading obstacle course race providers) season ended last weekend at Holmbush farm in Surrey. Such is the success of Tough Mudder, most readers will have done one or will know someone that has or will have even seen their t shirts appearing at your local parkrun or timed running events. With the inclusion of Merrell footwear this year as their lead sponsor, it would appear Tough Mudder is ready to challenge thousands more people at their events and stake a claim to becoming one of the most popular events, not just obstacle course racing events, the United Kingdom has.
Judging by a rumoured attendance of 15,000 “Mudders” over the course of a weekend; and the subsequent sea of orange headbands (which Mudders earn after crossing the finish line) you begin to believe that something magical was happening. If I can rewind to two hours earlier and my first experience of “Block Ness Monster”; it would be hard to deny that I was on a roller coaster of emotions as I smiled, cried and laughed all whilst avoiding drowning in a huge bath of water!
If you can imagine a huge bath with three sections cut off by large cubes that need to be spun round in order to progress to the next section. The only issue is these cubes are huge and require some team work, or some real skill, to get everyone over and to the other side. I do not think I have ever had so many genuinely funny, but challenging, moments as I worked with my fellow Mudders to navigate over these. You either made it over and went head first in the water or you fell down into it!
These moments, coupled with the “classic” obstacles such as the crate full of ice requiring full submersion (Arctic Enema), the swing from up high to hit a bell before falling into a huge pond (King of the Swingers) and the classic Everest 2.0, requiring competitors to run up a half pipe and grab onto the top, proved that Tough Mudder are not only providing genuinely challenging experiences, they are able to do so in a manner that has you (and your Mudders) smiling from start to finish.
To write Tough Mudder off due to the electric volts or the water based obstacles would be a real injustice; with more and more people taking up running and fitness to make it to the finish line, coupled with some of the best innovation and style found in obstacle course racing, Tough Mudder is proving time and time again what a fantastic event, challenge and experience they are.
More information on Tough Mudder and their 2017 event schedule can be found here and Merrell’s Tough Mudder range can be found here
And here's some tips on how you should take on the Block Ness Monster
I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered.
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene.