Race Review: Tough Mudder Melbourne

Be Warned Long Post Ahead

In June 2012 as a birthday present for myself, I entered myself into Tough Mudder, at Phillip Island Vic for Jan 2013.

I had first found out about Tough Mudder about 8 months prior around October 2011.  I didn’t enter their 1st event in 2012, because I knew that I was not fit nor strong, but I put it down on my wish list and my goal list of things I wanted to do and to achieve.

Fast forward to 19th Jan 2013.  A year of strength training, run training, interval training, and HIIT Training.  I was ready.  I was ready to cross Tough Mudder off my goal list.

After waking up at 6 am and getting the family organised, we left at 7.30 am for the drive over to Phillip Island.

The TM information pack advised being at the circuit 2 hours before my start time.

My allocated start time was midday.  I got there around 10 am.

After going to the toilet, as I was busting for a wee, I checked in.  On the way in I met a fellow individual entry Tough Mudder “Isaac”.  His scheduled time was 12.45 pm.  I thought I wouldn’t see him again, so I sent him a good luck and went on my merry way.

After getting my registration pack, I put on my race bib, got my number on my forehead, and went to the bag drop off and dropped off my bag, making sure that I had a snack before I dropped off my bag.

I did however forget my hat, which I’m glad I forgot cause it would have been hopeless, and I would have taken it off and thrown it away.  I also forgot to put on sunscreen.  And yes I got a bit burnt on my face.
The other thing I forgot (but I realised this the day before when I was repacking my pack), was my hydration pack, but I’m glad I forgot that too, because that too would have been useless.  It would have just dragged me down, and the “straw” part would have gotten clogged up with dirt and mud.

Once my bag was checked in and my snacks were eaten, I wandered around the area to check out the sponsors and so on.  I also wanted to see where the start line was.

Could I find that start line?  No.  Signage for the start line was a bit poor, but only to discover that I was standing right in front of it.

The start banner was not in the air, like the finish line.  It was along the side of the fence.  Which I thought was kind of stupid, because spectators and other fellow mudders were standing in front of it obscuring the sign, which was pretty big, but there were a lot of people.

So I got to witness the 10.30 am start wave.  I thought to myself  “No one is monitoring your start wave”  I mean how would they.  So I decided why wait around?

  1. I would get bored.
  2. Starting now would mean I would finish earlier.  Which would mean I would get home earlier.
  3. It also would mean that my boyfriend and my kids wouldn’t get bored or whine or complain that I was taking “too long”.

I climbed over the 7-foot Berlin Wall to get into the starting gate.  I did it on my own with no one else’s assistance.

I was surrounded by teams of Mudders, and although I entered as an individual I knew that I would not be alone.  That is one of the things that drew me to entering Tough Mudder, the comradeship.
Also if you think about it, Tough Mudder is a sponsor for Legacy.  Now if you don’t know much about Legacy Legacy is a charity providing services to Australian families suffering financially and socially after the incapacitation or death of a spouse or parent, during or after their defence force service.
Legacy helps those who have helped us, and well that’s what Tough Mudder is all about too.  Well, my interpretation of it. 

The Rocky theme songs starts to play, and then the countdown begins.  In 5,4,3,2,1 the horn sounds and we were off.

I was pumped, I was at the start of the pack.  As I am a runner I was going slow, but I was still the 1st female in the front group.  I saw a guy up ahead of me, I figured, I will just keep with his pace.  As I got up to him, low and behold it was “Isaac”.  So we were not alone.  We decided to help each other out and do it together.

The first obstacle was coming up, and when I saw what it was, I was like “oh my” (yes oh my, I’m going to keep it, clean people). The 1st obstacle was Arctic Enema. Having done my research on the obstacles I knew this one was going to be a tough one.  In fact, there were 4 obstacles I was unsure about.  They were:

  1. Arctic Enema
  2. Electric Eel
  3. Everest
  4. Electro-Shock therapy

Now Arctic Enema meant jumping into a pool.  A pool (well a shipping container) full of ice.  Not only that.  There was a divider in the middle.  Which you couldn’t climb over, you had to go under.  When I got to the pool I just went for it, there was no point delaying, as I could tell that my muscles were freezing up.  I went under and was glad to be on the other side climbing out and continuing on.

I’m glad that this was the 1st obstacle.  Because it was a tough one, it also meant that the running would warm me up.  Having it at the start meant that I would not be fatigued later to do it.

The next obstacle was a good 1km away.  It was an 8-foot ‘Berlin Wall’.  With the help of Isaac, I was able to climb over the walls.  I say walls, cause when you got over one, you had to do it again.

We then ran, err I mean walked through thick sludgy mud for about 400m, to get to the ‘Kiss of Mud’.  This meant commando crawling through muddy water to avoid the barbed wire above you.  The barbed wire however got lower and lower, so it meant you had to get muddier and muddier.  Was I enjoying it?  HELL YEAH!

If I wasn’t already wet and muddy I was about to with the ‘Underwater Tunnels’.  Crossing the pond and going underneath bobbing barrels, ensured that I was going to be drenched.  The level of water was also varied, from shall to deep.  As the water was not clear you were not going to be aware of any drop-off except for what the person in front of you was doing.

After passing through the underwater tunnels, we came up to the ‘Mud Mile’.  Walking through calf-deep thick, dark, sludgy mud, was slow, hard work but loads of fun.  Unexpected depths ensured slip overs and, nothing else to do but laugh it off.

This however was only the beginning of the mud mile.  Up ahead you could see the congestion of people, and you could clearly see why? Mud Mile was about to take on a whole new level.  It had changed, from walking through mud to now crossing muddy mounds.  There were about 20 all up.  This obstacle required teamwork.  You simply just could not do this alone.  You needed help getting up and over.  Those mounds were covered in wet slimy uneven/bumpy mud.  And then the trenches were knee-deep muddy waters.  This particular obstacle properly took the longest to complete. How long I could not tell you. Yes I was wearing a watch but because every part of me was covered in mud I couldn’t wipe it clean.

The next few obstacles were as follows (I’m not too sure of the exact order, however):

  • Dirty Ballerina: This was supposed to be leaping over muddy mounds, but we were told not to, as it was too dangerous so it meant going into the trenches and then lifting ourselves out.
  • Log Bog Jog:  Going under then over logs placed at varying heights.
  • Boa Constrictor Crawling through plastic piping.
  • Ladder to Hell:  Climbing up a vertical ladder, which was approximately 5m high.

By the time we got to the halfway mark a 1 hour 30 passed.  It didn’t seem that long that we were on the course, but apparently, we had.

The obstacle in the middle was Bale Bonds, and that just meant climbing over, round hay bales stacked like a pyramid.

After this, it was Hold Your Wood.  Now I found this particular obstacle a bit of a challenge.  You had an option, to carry an approx 30 kg big of wood on your own, or carry a 100-120 kg log as a team.  I chose to carry the wood on my own.  It not only meant holding the wood, but it also meant carrying it 400m.  Which didn’t seem that far, but when you are handicapped with something that is awkward to carry it gets tough.  I started carrying it on my shoulder. Then a third of the way through the other shoulder, but that was awkward, so then I carried it in front of me. I was struggling by the end. Needless to say, I was glad to put that bit of wood down.

When the water and food station came up I was glad to see it.  That banana didn’t even have a chance, it was gone in less than 2 seconds.  And the water, oh water. So nice. But it still had a fair way to go.

There were now a few hills.  Now I don’t mind hills.  I just kept going, while others were stopping to walk, I knew it was just a hill and that I will get over it.

At least no I know I’m not claustrophobic.  Trench Warfare ensured that. Crawling through earthen pitch-black tunnels, with only your hands guiding the way, and the light at the end of the tunnel. I was also surprised to find out they were not straight.  This is a good thing.

More hills awaited us, but we got to run along the coastline, which was beautiful.  Didn’t see any Fairy Penguins, even though it is their territory.

The next obstacle caused me to get an injury.  When I was younger I hurt my coccyx.  I don’t know how, I just did (most likely via falling down backward).  Well Greased Lightning ensured that that tail-bone injury was going to get a whole lot worse.  Now Greased Lightning is a giant slippery slide.  Sounds like fun.  And well it should have been, except that it was not flat.  It was bumpy, and it was one of those bumps that I landed on (possibly a rock, I have no idea).  I decided to go on my bum (while others went on their stomach).  I assumed it was going to be flat, it wasn’t.  And well I was hit on just the wrong angle and I went in utter pain.  It hurt.  But there was nothing I could do about it.  I just kept ongoing.

At least I knew I was a strong swimmer.  Even though the lifeguard in the water offered me his kickboard after jumping into the water for Cliff Hanger, I was determined I wouldn’t need his help, I shoo my head and swam to the edge of the pond and climbed out.

By this stage, I was getting tired.  So I was going slower, but I gave it all I had.

The only obstacle I skipped was Spider Webs. That is simple to the fact they were doing repair works on one of the nets, and there was a 30min wait.  I really didn’t want to wait around 30mins for 1 obstacle. So both Isaac and I agree to skip it. He was also getting tired too. You see he wasn’t a long-distance runner.  Because I have distance in my legs, he found he wanted to keep up with me.  He even said, “the competitiveness in me wants to keep up”.

We were now back on the Grand Prix track.  That meant we were nearly at the finish line. I could feel my stomach starting to grumble.  God, I could have just devoured a burger with the lot, with chips and gravy.  I mean it wouldn’t matter what the calories would be.  I would have burned them off already.

Up ahead there was a huge team waiting for King of the Mountain.  Which was just a bigger version of Bale Bonds.  There was a short wait as you could see that others were fatigued too.  I got over, and I had to walk.  I was starting to get a cramp in my calf, my hip flexors were tight, and walking helped stretch them out. Isaac was also suffering from muscle cramps too, so he wasn’t objecting to walking.

The end line was now in sight.  We had just past the 18km mark.  That orange headband was mine, I was going to get it.  Even if that meant getting shocked in ‘Electric Eel’. Attempting and failing with ‘Funky Monkey’.  I was just so exhausted I just didn’t have the energy to get across those monkey bars.  Then climbing over a 9f Berlin Wall (two of them here too), to get to the 2nd the last obstacle.  ‘Everest’.  The girl in front of me was on her second attempt at it.  I wanted to do it in one go.  Isaac did it with ease, Just ran and lept like an impala to the top.  I went flat out, ran up it, and reached up and grabbed a hand, then another, then got pulled up.  I would have stayed to help, but I just wanted to keep going.

The music was playing at the after-party.  The crowd was cheering.  And even though we had ‘Electro Shock Therapy’ left.  I didn’t care.  I just went for it.  I got zapped once, but it was worth it.  I made it.  I got to the end (and you did too). I earned that orange headband.

I am now a Tough Mudder Graduate.

So I can say that I am Officially A Tough Mother… er Mudder

Tough Mother

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