At the start of this year I needed a new challenge – I was becoming complacent with my training for triathlon and was up for something different. After chatting with some friends we put a team together to enter “Tough Mudder” – 20km of army obstacles involving mud, ice, electrocution and fire. Our team name “Older Not Wiser” seemed suitable, with our average age being 50. Seemed like a great idea at the time.

So I ditched my goggles and took up Cross Fit to build some upper body strength and my Sunday bike rides were substituted with “Tough Mudder” training.

Before I knew it, August 17th arrived and we were driving to the Sunshine Coast to compete in this crazy event. I was comforted in the fact the course was only 17kms and there were 18 obstacles. The sun was shining so it was going to be a warm day – something I was very grateful after getting out of the Arctic Enema.

Tough Mudder Course

Our start time was 10.15 and before I knew it we were reciting the “Tough Mudder Oath” and on our way.

The first few obstacles were mild – a bit of mud, barbed wire and a couple of high walls at an odd angle. Then we came to Warrior Carry where we had to pair up and carry each other a set distance. Having never piggybacked an adult before I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to carry my partner but managed to make it all the way – a real achievement considering the state of my knees (and the size of my husband!)

From there on it started to get muddier, icier and much more tougher. Water logged was probably the funniest and most exhausting challenge of all, waist deep in mud most of the way. There was no easy way out – I even tried to swim but just seemed to sink more. When I finally came out my t-shirt was a dress and definitely not white!

After Water Logged came Trench Warfare, a tunnel filled with mud and water  – quite confronting when you don’t like confined spaces. I had to queue for 30 minutes for the privilege to complete this but I took this as a good excuse for a rest. Once inside the tunnel I tried to keep calm and just get out as quickly as I could. My strategy worked and was very excited to see daylight at the end of the tube.

Passing the halfway mark was a real joy and I started to feel like I could complete the course. My body was intact and not in too much pain. The strength training was paying off, although it did cross my mind that maybe I should have done some running – 17kms is a long way.

When you just need someone to give you a helping hand… out of the mud!

The next challenging obstacle was Berlin Wall, but with the help of my teammates I got over them both. Another wait came to do Electric Eel –odd to have to queue up to crawl in mud and get electrocuted at the same time.  I managed to avoid most of the wires but got stung right at the end – a strange feeling but not as bad as I thought.

Monkey bars followed which I failed dismally at –something to work on for next time. Got to have a nice swim though and wash some of the excess mud I was carrying around.

The last 3 km’s were by far the cruellest – both mentally and physically.  My knees were feeling it and the course was deceptive. Three remaining obstacles were at my fingertips but we had to run a loop going in the opposite direction.

The 2nd to last obstacle got me – Everest involved running up a steep and slippery ramp and being pulled up by teammates to get over the wall. I decided my knees were more important than achieving this – not too bad when I initially thought there would be plenty that I would chicken out of.

Tough mudder sign
Tough Mudder 2013

Finally I was at the start of the last obstacle – Electroshock Therapy. This involved running through mud and facing 10,000 volts of electricity. We ran through as a team to share the load – was hilarious to see my teammates drop like flies in front of me. Strangely I found the shocks to the back of my knees quote therapeutic.

Crossing the finishing line was filled with mixed emotions – the sense of achievement was enormous but at the same time I was sad it was all over. This event was so different to competing in a Triathlon where it is a race to the end and you are on your own the whole way. Being part of a team and working together to get to the end is really what Tough Mudder is all about. We drew on each other’s strength and weaknesses and all crossed the line together. Bring on next year I say – have already registered my interest for 2014 and have entered Stampede on the 15th September (only 10km but 30 obstacles).

Check out the Tough Mudder website for more information,

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