I did my first Tough Mudder (TM) in 2015, and I had a lot of fun. It didn't take me long to sign up to go again for both TM New England and TM Northeast in 2016. Unfortunately neither race panned out. In general, 2016 did not turn out to be a good racing year for me, and Samurai Sprint was my last race of the year. (the exception being the two family races I did with my kids)
I transferred my 2016 registration to this year, and I needed the motivation to get into shape and hopefully get back into OCRs regularly. As usual, the training was not to be, so I ended up going into this race out of shape, again. Since as far as I knew, my friends weren't going to this one, so I figured I'd have to do it alone. The downside, of course, is that you have no one to run with, but the upside was that I wouldn't be holding anyone back by how slow I am.
But fortunately I ran into some fellow members of the New England Spahtens, and we would run (walk?) the race together. We spent the wait for our race time arguing about who was slower. The racers would be Mama Hen Sandy Rhee (who lives up to her nickname), the two Amys with their matching blonde hair, telephone pole-impersonator David with his Go-Pro camera, and his friend Phil, who at 61 is a badass. Sandy had done the race on Saturday, and was thinking she wouldn't do it this time, but we convinced her to go with us and she obliged.
|Phil, me, David, Sandy, Amy, and Amy|
Waves left at 15 minute intervals, and as I wasn't looking forward to the intro, as I remember it dragged the first time I did a TM. This time, however, it wasn't so bad, and we were off right on time at 9:30. The trail meandered a short ways up the mountain, and as I expected, I lagged behind on the upslopes, but my team kindly waited for me. Back down the mountain and to the first obstacle, Quagmire, which is a simple pit dug out of the ground filled with muddy water. Climb in, wade through waist deep water, and wade back out.
Soon after that was Berlin Walls, which was a simple wall climb, perhaps 10 feet high. It had a step on it, so I was able to get a leg up by boosting myself on it so I was able to climb over without any help.
|"Climbing over without any help" doesn't necessarily mean "easy."|
Farther up the mountain to Underwater Tunnels, which was in a small pond. You had to get in the water which was about 4 feet deep, wade to the "tunnel", which was really just a floating barrier perhaps three feet wide, swim under it, and then on to two more tunnels. The water was colder than expected, and most people cringe at the cold water and try not to get wet (despite the fact that we all have to dunk under). When faced with these obstacles, I just try to plow through them as fast as possible to get it over with. So rather than wade through it, I ended up swimming and got through pretty quickly.
Immediately after Underwater Tunnels was the Hero Carry. Sandy carried me the first quarter of the way, and I carried her to the halfway point, and then she carried me to the finish. I offered to do the last quarter, but she was't having it and powered my considerable weight to the end.
|Sandy carries me through the Hero Carry|
|On the mountain|
A meandering climb back up the mountain to Devil's Beard, which is a net stretched across the ground that you have to go under. Many people opt to crawl under the net, but I found that there's just enough slack in the net to walk under, albeit very hunched over. I let the net slide over my back and plowed my way through it, going through relatively quickly.
Farther up the mountain to the highest point we would reach that day (which was only maybe 2/3 of the way up Mount Snow), to Ladder to Hell. It is a ladder with four rungs made of wide planks, spaced several feet apart. The only difficult part is the transition over the top, which can be tough for people who are afraid of heights.
Soon after was the funnest (most fun?) obstacle of the race: Block Ness Monster. It consisted of a pool that was probably between four and five feet deep, crossed by a pair of large rectangular blocks on axles that rested a little above the surface of the water. You had to get over the freely rotating blocks with assistance from your teammates. In essence some people turned the blocks on their axles while others grabbed on and rolled their way over the top. This was a lot of fun, both from the perspective of helping people over and riding over yourself. Our group was having so much fun that we stayed with this one, helping people over until no one else was in sight.
|The Block Ness Monster|
A relatively short slog down to the bottom of the mountain to Arctic Enema the Rebirth. This is one of the more mental obstacles, as you go down a slide into icy water, getting fully dunked, and then under a wide barrier with only a few inches of breathing space in it. The original intention of the obstacle was to go down the slide headfirst, but they changed that quickly for safety reasons. Since we were near the tail end of the race, by the time we got to it, they were nearly out of ice, so the water, while very cold, wasn't as cold as it could have been. I went down and through and out relatively quickly, not nearly as chilled as I was expecting to be.
|Arctic Enema the Rebirth|
|Getting farther than I expected|
|Augustus Gloop (near) and Snot Rocket (far)|
|Not quite a ladder on the inside...|
At about this time we caught up to "Darth Vader," the nickname for a veteran who had recently had his right leg amputated. He was being helped through the race with a team of runners that pulled him along on a wagon, with him walking over some of the parts that were too technical for a wagon to cross. Once again it showed how the TM community (and by extension the OCR community) come together to help each other out.
A short walk brought us to Pyramid Scheme, which is another teamwork-based obstacle like Everest 2.0, however this one is not a half pipe but a flat sloped slippery wall, perhaps at a 45 degree angle. The standard strategy is to form a human pyramid on the slope that others climb up to the top. Fortunately there was a rope assist where you did not need to climb far on people to reach. After some effort we managed to get everyone up.
After waiting a bit to cheer on my teammates who were doing one or the other, we crossed the finish line and race was over. I got my second TM headband, this one bright green.
|At the finish line|
|GPS map of Tough Mudder New England 2017. My GPS measured it as 10.67 miles in 5:47:17.|