Event: Tough Mudder Indiana
Date: November 19th, 2011.
Location: Attica, Indiana
It all started innocently enough. One of my best friends had registered for the Tough Mudder Indiana race in Indiana and in a moment of curiosity, I said “why don’t you send me the information?” A few days later, I found myself on a plane to Chicago then driving to Indiana. I didn’t have an entry to the race yet since online registration was closed, but I had the fistful of cash they were demanding for same day entry and the hope that there was still space in the event. As luck would have it, there were still a few spots left so before I knew it I was getting my number written across my forehead in permanent marker and signing my “death waiver.”
An adventure racer at heart, I’ve never thought much of obstacle races. To me, the best obstacles are the ones provided by nature: swamps en route to checkpoints, heinous bushwhacks that leave your legs ripped to shreds, or hills so steep you are on your hands and knees to scale them. But I realized I had been judging these events without even trying one first, so what the heck.
You can check out the Tough Mudder philosophy here, but to summarize, “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” Upon arrival, I scoffed at the signs suggesting that this was “probably the toughest race on the planet,” but was amazed at the following that this event had. Over the course of the two days that the event ran, several thousand would-be mudders challenged themselves against the course.
The event itself consisted of trail running through the park with different types of obstacles thrown in every 1/3 of a mile or so. Some obstacles – like climbing over gigantic straw towers, through mud bogs or underground tunnels were kind of fun – many, like the jump into a gigantic vat of ice cold water or crawling through mud underneath barb wire, seemed somewhat ridiculous, and one or two, like jumping 15 ft off a platform into a lake and then swimming 50 yards, or the ending, which featured running through electrified wires – were somewhat terrifying. Once we got going, I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed it,
so much so that I was always looking up ahead because I couldn’t wait to see what the next crazy challenge was going to be. There was a real spirit of camraderie as most people do the events in teams and there are no finishing times, so anytime we needed help scaling a gigantic wall or running up “Everest”, there were many people willing to help. All in all, it was a wet, muddy, ridiculous good time.
While I won’t be giving up adventure racing anytime soon, I am willing to admit that I’d do another one of these events for variety’s sake. As luck would have it, Tough Mudder will be hitting Toronto next August for anyone wanting to give this crazy sport a try.