Tough Mudder Arizona 2012 – Blissfully Insane…

AS A TOUGH MUDDER I PLEDGE THAT…

  • I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge…
  • I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time…
  • I DO NOT WHINE – kids whine…
  • I help my fellow Mudders complete the course…
  • I overcome ALL fears…

I welcomed the cold.  I seemed to be alone in this opinion but the last thing I wanted was to get overheated and dehydrated.  I know that my body will produce plenty of heat to keep me warm over the next 12.5 miles, regardless of how many of the 29 military-style obstacles before us have us plunging into pools of ice-cold water.  I need it to be cold, or this is gonna suck.

I don’t remember exactly when I got it in my head that I wanted to do this race.  I know it started with an interest in signing up for a Warrior Dash when they were here in Arizona in 2010.  I missed that one due to a schedule conflict with a family trip and now, as my fitness and conditioning were improving, the 5k Warrior Dash just didn’t seem like enough.  At some point I mentioned to my brother, half jokingly,  that there was going to be a Tough Mudder in Arizona and I was thinking of signing up.  Soon after, a local gym let me know they were creating a team to take the Tough Mudder challenge.  That was it, I signed up with the gym’s team.  Once I signed up things started falling into place.  My brother and sister-in-law wanted to go too.  They signed up on the same team I was on and started planning a trip to come out to Arizona for the race.  My fiancé didn’t want to be left out, so we signed her up too.  The four of us would be our own team, within a team…and we couldn’t wait!

The Arctic Enema…

The Tough Mudder concept began as a business plan contest submission.  In 2009, Will Dean submitted his business plan where he boasted he could attract “500 people to run a grueling race through mud and man-made obstacles” and his outlandish idea was a semifinalist in the Harvard Business School’s Annual Business Plan Contest.  Since then, the race has exploded across the US and internationally going from an impressive 50,000 participants in 2010 to a projected 500,000 in 2012.  Why has this insane race that delivers on it’s promise to “test your all-around mettle, not just your ability to run in a straight line, on your own, for hours on end, getting bored out of your mind“?  The website explains the race like this,

“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. As the leading company in the booming obstacle course industry, Tough Mudder has already challenged half a million inspiring participants worldwide and raised more than $2 million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. But Tough Mudder is more than an event, it’s a way of thinking. By running a Tough Mudder challenge, you’ll unlock a true sense of accomplishment, have a great time, and discover a camaraderie with your fellow participants that’s experienced all too rarely these days.

I think that’s the draw, the important piece of this that inspires people, “you’ll unlock a true sense of accomplishment, have a great time, and discover a camaraderie with your fellow participants that’s experienced all too rarely these days“.

So there we were on a cold Arizona morning, full of nervous energy and bouncing and jogging in place at the starting line to stay warm.  We listened to the National Anthem (which was performed at the start of every wave of runners) and then a rousing, blood-pumping speech which included a group recitation of the Tough Mudder Pledge.  The MC did a remarkable job getting the crowd pumped up before the race, insuring us, once a gain, that this was no walk in the park.  When the gun went off, it was hard NOT to take off at a full-tilt sprint but I kept having to remind myself, “you have 12 miles of this shit!” and paced myself.

I won’t walk you through a blow-by-blow of the race because they are all different.  Each Tough Mudder is designed specifically and uniquely for THAT particular location.  That’s one of the many reasons why so many “Mudder’s” sign-up for multiple races.  They do have some iconic obstacles that you will see in every race like the Arctic Enema, Everest and the Mud Mile.  To see a map and description of what we went through here in Arizona, you can go here and click on the link for the full map.

Nightline recently aired this segment on the 2012 Arizona Tough Mudder…

Sorry about the commercials, it’s worth the wait…

 

When we passed a sign that read “If this were the Warrior Dash, you’d be done” I was incredibly happy I signed up for something more substantial.  Somewhere around mile 11 my opinion was slightly different.  As a whole, we took on every obstacle with enthusiasm.  Not just as a challenge but, honestly, as a break from running.  Many of the obstacles, especially the Berlin Walls, require teamwork and my brother and I found ourselves sitting at the foot of the walls helping numerous people up and over the 12-foot vertical structures.  My brother was one of the few people there who could negotiate the Berlin Walls successfully without assistance (it was impressive to watch).  Likewise, the Everest challenge was specifically designed to require teamwork as you sprint full speed up a slippery, mud-soaked half-pipe wall hoping that someone at the top will grab you before you lose your footing and slide down.  Many slid down before they could be snatched by a helping hand…

As insane as it sounds when you try to tell others about the experience, it was a hell of a lot of fun.  It draws a particular type of person and people not drawn to this type of race have a really hard time understanding why people sign up, and pay good money, to do this to themselves.  For me, I don’t try to talk them in to it or justify it…I just know that for me, and the others that were there with me, it was a great experience and a lot of fun.  As much as we hurt after the fact, as uncomfortable and cold as we were during the race, as much as we complained about being jolted with 10,000 volts of electricity (enough to knock you unconscious for a second or two)…we are already talking about when we’ll be able to sign up for another one.  And THAT is enough of an endorsement to the event right there.

To find a Tough Mudder near you, check the events page here.

 

BTW – I just received an email before posting this article that my finish time was in the top 5% and qualifies me to compete in the World’s Toughest Mudder 2012.  It’s a grueling 24-hour version of the Tough Mudder and I will NOT be participating.  Good to know I qualified though!

ADDED 2.2.2012: This video was just released by Tough Mudder announcing their official partnership with Under Armour for the event clothing. The Arizona 2012 Race was the first official event to see Under Armour T-shirts given to the finishers. This video is very well done and really captures the overall mood of the event…

Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at WildernessDave.com. David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.

Comments

  1. One of the coolest experiences in my life! All the participants there followed the creed and were supportive even though you had no idea who anyone was outside our team. It attracts a certain crowd and it is a wonderful crowd to be a part of.

  2. You. Are. A Badass. Nice job!

  3. I didnt realize your experience was so fresh. Yes the teamwork part of this challenge would be the most exciting aspect.

    Bravo

    • Yup, just a couple of weeks ago, really. Still healing from some of the abrasions on my knees! Except for the electric shock parts, it’s totally something I would do again without hesitation.

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