Nothing can really prepare you for hitting that water. Not a mental pep talk. Not the wait in line. Not the advanced research you do online – that moment in time when you realize you will have to get your body through what they call the “Arctic Enema.”
Yeah, it’s tough. But it should be. It’s part of Tough Mudder. That’s part of the deal. The Arctic Enema is supposed to freeze you in seconds. To lock up your tired feet. To chill you down to your DNA.
You’re not supposed to hit your forehead on the tires as you dunk yourself underneath them, like I did, but it happens. You are supposed to have a “holy shit” face when you re-emerge on the other side of the tires. You’re supposed to be covered in a neon yellow liquid, because that’s what you just came out of.
And, you’re probably supposed to talk about how cold you are as you wait in line at the next obstacle – the Black Widow – a tangled web of slack line pulled over a pool of pink water.
Just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean it’s not doable. It totally is, in a way that is more doable than Spartan – in my opinion. And I’ve done a few of those babies, at different distances and elevations.
Tough Mudder is just tough enough. Its monkey bar obstacle is amazing – offering a vertical incline over a pool of green water, leading to a horizontal wheel that then leads to a series of vertical wheels.
Ron cruised through it. I made it to the second wheel and wanted to manage my splashdown, so I let go before the last one. And I immediately regretted not going for that last wheel.
The race doesn’t just encourage teamwork, it requires it – often from strangers. In fact, the very first obstacle requires you to rely on the people in front of and behind you to get out of a series of mud pits. It breaks the ice within minutes.
There aren’t really lengthy tracks of obstacle-free running, despite the classic running 8.5 miles, and many of the obstacles require you to get small or endure army crawls over gravel or scale a wall or find your balance.
The scariest – and optional – obstacle is the one called Electroshock Therapy. It’s at the end, before what felt like a 30-foot, A-frame cargo climb and it’s one that brings grown, muscular men to their knees. In little whimpers.
So, I skipped it. I didn’t need to duck under electrified cables, crawling through mud and over bales of straw. I didn’t need to do that. I had already done the whole course, army crawling under electrical wires earlier in the race. But Ron and Jason did, and they lived.
So yeah, Tough Mudder is tough. But just tough enough.