Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tough Mudder Georgia 2012

"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. With the most innovative courses, half a million inspiring participants, and more than $2 million dollars raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world."

This year was my second time running in Tough Mudder and let me say, it was quite different from last year. Last year it was held in early March and for some reason they moved it up this year to early February. Of course we have been having an abnormally warm winter right up to the day before the event when temperatures plummeted and the wind decided to show up with a vengeance. While it was warm when the Sun was out the wind pretty much negated that benefit. Add to that the water and ice we were tromping through and it made for a rather painfully cold day. The temps were in the low 40's but wind chill and being wet took the "feels like" temp down to the low 30's.


Team Twinkle Pony represented but due to a vehicle breakdown started in 2 separate waves. I ran with Abel and Elizabeth who both have the patience of a saint. They stopped repeatedly along the course to wait for me to catch up again and again. Why? On the first obstacle "Devil's Gaps" I took a rough tumble and landed sideways on my left ankle twisting it badly. Those of you that know me know that me twisting an ankle is nothing new so I trudged on with just a slight limp once the pain subsided. It wasn't until later on before the end of Mile 2 that I twisted it again on a slippery patch of mud. This time I felt and could swear I heard the crunch. It was bloody painful beyond words. I stopped and just hung onto a tree to balance myself for a few min and then, slowly and with a more pronounced limp, kept going. Many fellow Mudders stopped to make sure I was OK and didn't need any assistance. That's one of the things I like about events like Tough Mudder. It's not about time or me first, it's about having fun and helping others complete the course when they need help. Some obstacles require teamwork while others can be done solo with just the encouragement of the Mudders around you. It's all just a massive group of people working together to get to the Finish.


This year's event was at a much better venue than last year. For one, it wasn't a dry county so we could actually have Beer at the Finish. That part SUCKED last year. This year's venue was also much flatter than the mountainous terrain of last year. This made for a much faster trip through the course with less fatigue which was a real bonus. Some of the hills last year were meant to only be climbed with off road vehicles, running them on foot was a pain. While this year's location was flatter and appeared more spectator friendly it wasn't fully. The course spanned 2 open areas that had a large wooded zone between them that prevented spectators from getting from one zone to the other without a huge out and back again walking path. Because of this Jessica missed many opportunities to photograph us at the obstacles. There is a whole batch of obstacles where she lost us due to the long walk between zones. Luckily she found us again near the end because we really needed the supplies she and Logan were carrying for us.


This year had the usual repeat obstacles with the addition of a few new ones. Funky Monkey was there as was Hold Your Wood, Walk The Plank, Twinkle Toes, Boa Constrictor, Spiders Web, and the Berlin Walls (taller this year) but we had some new obstacles to conquer. Devil's Gaps, Arctic Enema, King of the Mountain, Trench Warfare, a second set of Boa Constrictor, Log Jammin, Electric Eel, Hanging Tough, Dong Dangler, and Everest were all new obstacles for Georgia this year. I liked some of the new obstacles and hated others. My hatred of them wasn't their difficulty, it was more the lack of thought put into them.
Electric Eel was rather pointless to me, it wasn't muddy, it wasn't difficult, it was just a reason to wet us down and make us crawl through dangling electric fence wires. It was sadistic and nothing else. I won't miss this one if it disappears in the future.
Hanging Tough was great in concept but poorly planned out. It had too few lanes to accomodate the flood of people coming through the event. When we arrived the Tough Mudder Staff had a guy on a bullhorn telling people it was a long (30min+) wait and it was OK to skip it. We did because waiting in the howling wind freezing for 30min would have pretty much knocked us out of the rest of the course due to our muscles seizing up. This event should have been much wider, with more lanes, and not as long across.
Dong Dangler was about the lamest "obstacle" of the day. It was basically just a walk through waist deep water holding onto a rope. If it was meant to be crossed differently there were no signs or Staff around to explain it.
Trench Warfare was just us crawling through a tunnel that twisted and turned a little bit, nothing difficult about it. No water, little mud, and not much effort required.
Everest looked awesome but if you didn't have people already on the top it was incredibly difficult if not impossible. The addition of a water trench right in front of it to muddy up the area didn't help either. I heard there were Staff at the top helping for a bit but I guess they go too cold because when we arrived there wasn't a soul on the top and nobody was having any luck getting up it. Hypothermia was beginning to set in at this point so we skipped this one.
Electroshock Therapy is always the final obstacle and a terrifying yet thrilling obstacle to dash though. This year though, some genius decided to lengthen it and add rows of hay bales to hop over. Add to this the fact that it was set up in a heavy mud zone and you have many unnecessary injuries and shocks. I saw at least 2 or 3 guys run through, trip and get zapped only to land and get zapped again and again and again until spectators or some other runner pulled them out. The hay bales were a mistake and shouldn't have been added.

Other than these critiques of the new obstacles everything else was excellent Tough Mudder grade fun.


Once we finished we discovered they had greatly improved the finish line support area from last year. We got Water, Juice, Fruit, Cliff Bar, our Shirt, an Emergency Blanket to wrap up in and then our much earned Beer. Last year we got a Cliff Bar, Water, and NO BEER. They had plenty of fire barrels all around the area to huddle around and warm up which helped but was no substitute for just getting into dry clothes and getting the heat cranked up in the car. We didn't hang out long at the after party but it seemed like others were enjoying it. The cold wind really impacted people's desire to stick around I think.

Most people wonder why I participate in such crazy events. To be honest I don't really have an answer besides It's Fun! It's something that I never thought I'd do and now I'm doing it annually in addition to doing copy-cat smaller events like Warrior Dash, Zombie Run, Spartan Race, etc... It's an opportunity to play in the mud again and just have a great time with family and friends.

Plus there is beer at the end. :)