On Saturday May 11th 2013, I took part and completed my third Tough Mudder event. This time around, my wife competed as well, and I helped her along the course, especially with some of the tougher obstacles. We had a great time, although the course was tough and the weather was terrible, we made it and have a lot of great memories to tell about it. Below is a quick synopsis of the event. I will have individual "tactics" blogs for the obstacles that completed for the first time at this event so stay tuned for those!
We ran in the 8am heat on Saturday morning, the very first group to take on the course. It was a very cold morning, temperatures right around 6 C, or 42 F! The sun poked out of the sky for maybe 30 seconds a few times while we were on the course, but for the most part, it was a grey, gloomy day!
Although the course was significantly different than last year's event, one of the main themes was the hills involved. Since the event took place at Mount St. Louis Moonstone ski resort just north of Barrie Ontario, there were plenty of skill hills to be traversed.
"Start line Sean" (the start line emcee) once again did a great job pumping us up for the start of the event. He is a great motivator, and had everyone hoopin', hollerin' and hoo-rah-ing before the start. This was probably a good thing, it allowed the participants' blood to get moving.
Once the race began, we had a hill climb right off the bat. Once we climbed the first hill, we arrived at our first obstacle "Glory Blades". For those of you who aren't familiar, this is basically "Berlin Walls", but the walls themselves are on about a 25-30 degree angle towards you. This makes things a bit more interesting since you don't have a wall to push off of to get up and over.
Once we were over the walls, we had a short run, including a downhill portion, which lead us to good ol' Arctic Enema. I have had plenty of experience with this obstacle in the past, so I hopped in, got under the middle barrier and was out as quick as I could. The cold water took my wife by surprise, however, as she admitted later that she really wasn't expecting it to be so cold.
We had a fairly long hill climb after Arctic Enema to bring us to Funky Monkey. I was able to make it across with little problem. My wife, however, slipped and lost her grip. She therefore had a bonus swim for herself!
There was a very short run following Funky Monkey, before we had to crawl under some barb wire, through mud, for the obstacle known as Kiss of Mud.
Following Kiss of Mud, there was another short run before we came across Electric Eel. Due to my recent diagnosis from the doctor (Atrial Flutter), I was told to skip any electrical obstacles by my doctor, so my wife had to go alone. She did awesome!
We had a very short run before we reached a muddy hill climb known as Cliffhanger. Not much of a challenge there.
Following Cliffhanger, we came across the obstacle known as Firewalker. This is a new obstacle to me. It was basically a fire pit that you had to jump over and land in a pool of water. To be honest, we hung out at this obstacle for a few minutes longer than we had to since the warmth from the fire was so nice!
After Firewalker, there was a short run through a wooded area, including the Hold Your Wood obstacle. We then encountered Dirty Ballerina, which is essentially trenches dug out of the mud where you must leap, channeling your inner ballerina, over each trench.
Trench Warfare was next, as we crawled through a darkened tunnel. This obstacle actually used to freak me out quite a bit due to a bit of claustrophobia, but I have no problems any more.
Another run through the woods before we finally emerged to Walk the Plank and take a dip in a giant pool. Apparently the jump is higher this year than in previous years' Tough Mudder events.
Mud Mile was actually quite tough at this event, in my opinion. The trenches were deep, the mounds were large and steep to get over. Not only that, but by this point in the event, the cold was really starting to get to me by this point, and my hands were essentially frozen.
Following Mud Mile was a short run, then we started traveling down a ski hill, still covered in snow might I add, as we approached Greased Lightning. Now let me point out that at last year's event, Greased Lightning was a short little slip n' slide ride that was actually nice to cool off on on a bright, sunny, August day. This year, my wife and referred to Greased Lightning as the slip n' slide from hell! At the top of the slide, there were 2 snow making machines spraying showering water all over the slide. Fine. However, you could not see the bottom because of all of the water (refer to picture). I decided to go first and started sliding down. Since I was sliding down a rubber slide, on a steep ski hill, with no friction around what-so-ever, my speed increased very rapidly!
As I approached the pool at the bottom, I noticed the large amount of snow and ice that had accumulated in the water from the hill above. Also, the pool really was not large enough to accommodate for the speed I had gained coming down the hill! Luckily I was able to keep myself square and hit the water feet first. The poor guy next to me was not as lucky as he somehow got spun around and entered the water head-first, laying on his back. I don't know how he made it out, but it sure looked like a major injury!
We then headed down the rest of the skill hill, then back up of course, encountering Berlin Walls, and also lots of wind. By the time I was approaching Underwater Tunnels, I was as cold as I have ever been in my life from what I can remember!
This may have been what saved me at the half-way point of the run. The water felt extremely warm. Although it probably wasn't more than about 70 degrees, since the air was so cold, there was steam coming off the lake, and the water felt so nice, bringing a bit of feeling back to my legs and hands.
We then had a pretty length run before reaching our next obstacle Balls to the Wall. This obstacle is new to Tough Mudder Toronto, although I had experienced a much tougher version of it at World's Toughest Mudder.
Yet another hill climb, and then I carried my wife for about 200m or so for Wounded Warrior Carry.
Another fairly lengthy run, including some swampy much we traversed through, until we reached Smoke Chute. Once again, this was a new obstacle to Tough Mudder Toronto, but I had encountered it before at World's Toughest Mudder.
The next obstacle we came across, also new to Tough Mudder Toronto, was Cage Crawl. Here, you must lay on your back and 'float' through the water under a metal cage, pulling yourself along. I was not very comfortable in this obstacle at all. You essentially need to keep your face as close to the cage as you 'crawl' under it, in order to keep your nose and mouth out of the water. By the time I got to the end, I actually felt quite dizzy. Not sure if it was from the cold, the water, the water in my ears, laying on my back, or a combination of any of the above. I guess I am just a big sissy because my wife came out of this one saying she felt very relaxed...
Boa Contrictor was next, which is a Tough Mudder staple.
We then had one hill climb left prior to Everest and finishing off with Electroshock Therapy. That last hill climb was just murder on my wife's legs. Well, I guess the combination of all of the previous hills took a lot out of her, but that final hill was really tough on her, to the point where she had to stop and massage her one leg a bit as it had cramped up so badly.
I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I have had no problems with Everest in the past, getting up on my very first try at Tough Mudder Toronto 2012, but also on both of the laps I completed at World's Toughest Mudder. Having said that, it took me 3 attempts to make it over this time. I think that is a testament to the conditions we faced at this year's event (cold, windy, etc.) my legs were fatigued, and my grip was basically non-existent as I tried to scale that sucker.
Obviously with my heart condition I was unable to run through Electroshock Therapy at the end, but my wife, the trooper, went at it alone and made it through with a few zaps!
So there you have it, another Tough Mudder conquered, another orange sweat band to add to my collection! This time around, things were definitely tough! Between the cold, the wind, and the little bit of rain we had, it was definitely both a mental and physical struggle to get through this course. My wife and I did well though and both are happy we completed this course together!