Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Ugly: Tough Mudder Recap

I'll preface this post by saying that my expectations for this race weren't very high to begin with and so my opinion didn't have very far to fall. Mud and obstacles are not really my thing and I knew that going into this event. When Mike decided he wanted to register back in January I was willing to jump on the bandwagon considering how many races I've dragged him to.

Okay onto there recap:

We were on the road Saturday morning by 7 am. Tough Mudder start times work in waves starting around 8 am and going every 20 minutes until 2:40 pm. We had a noon start time, which was fine, because it was going to be a 3 hour drive there and they also said we should arrive two hours before our start, so a 10 am arrival is what we shot for. At 9:45 am we were 5 miles form the event site. Perfect!

And then the traffic. Oh the traffic! Tough Mudder was very adamant about not parking anywhere except their own lot, which would have been fine, except that their lot was not equipped to handle the 20,000 people they had registered for the day. And, as it turned out, there was only one way in and out of the lot for vehicles and only a single lane country road leading to the entrance. What made the situation worse, however, was the lack of information coming from the event staff. We sat in traffic for FOUR hours waiting to get to the lot without hearing a peep from the staff. One text message went out around 10 am that said we should only park in their lot and that they would let you into the event late if you missed your start time.

At 2 pm we finally got fed up. I had walked up the road a bit to do some recon and found out just how bad the parking situation was. At that point we decided to abandon the line and parked in a neighborhood 2 miles away from the event site. We would have done this sooner, but I really felt that we would be able to park at the event since we weren't hearing otherwise. I just crossed my fingers that my car would be un-towed and un-ticketed when we returned.

Two of our friends abandoned ship after the traffic situation. We were about to do the same, but honestly after sitting in the car for 7 hours the only thing that was going to de-stress me was exercise. The rain started pouring and we sprinted the 1.5 miles to the start line. It felt great to be out of that car and to move my legs. When we arrived at the start registration and bag check took call of two seconds.

Finally arrived!
After running in the rain from the car

We met up with our two other friends and heard the call for the last start wave (it was now 2:40 pm). If we had stayed in that traffic line 5 minutes longer we would have missed it. I felt so, so badly for the thousands of people still in traffic waiting to get in. They probably had no idea that the event staff were still closing the start times according to the original plan and I'm sure many eventually arrived only to be turned away.

And so, finally, we ran the damn thing. My thoughts on the actual event? It was alright. Again, I didn't go into this thing thinking it was the cat's meow. I wasn't nearly as "tough" as I expected. In my opinion anyone who can run 10k and does some strength training once a week would have no problem. We did deal with an exceptional amount of mud, definitely more than non-rainy Tough Mudders encounter. One of the aid stations was knee deep in mud and water. I don't think that was planned.

We ran pretty much the entire thing. The first 3-4 miles flew by since we were still hyped up from getting out of the car. The last 5 miles ended up going very slow because of the deep, slippery mud and wait times at the obstacles. Getting through the mud reminded me a lot of this race except I left that event with a lot more self-satisfaction.

By the time we finished it was after 6 pm and getting cold. We had to wait 10-15 minutes for more foil blankets, which kind of ticked me off. We were able to snag some quick time in the shower before they ran out of water. 

After we walked back to the car we tried to clean up as best as possible and then immediately found a diner to drown our stomachs in. I don't even know how I made it through the event after not eating much all day. 

Literally exactly what I wanted

After filling ourselves to the brim we dragged ourselves back in the car and drove home. Finally around 1 am my head was able to hit my pillow. 

So, to review...

The Good:
- Course length
- Obstacle spacing
- Registration and bag check lines
- Getting muddy
- Comradery (this was all because of the participants and had nothing to do with the event staff)
- Swag (we got a nice UA tech shirt and a sweatband, which I thought was super douchey when I first saw it, but was so exactly what my frigid body needed after running through cold mud for hours. My head was happy). 

OMG so warm

The Bad:
- I noticed very few event staff on the actual course
- Running out of water for showers
- Wait times at many obstacles
- Ripped my favorite lulu crops and tank top (my fault for wearing expensive clothing)

The Very, Very Ugly:
- Parking
- Communication with event staff
- Traffic

Would I do this event again? Up until an hour ago I said "hell no," but if I had enough friends, and I stayed at a hotel within walking distance, I would probably do another one. I

 don't know if I'd go with this company again. They really royally f*cked up. They ended up canceling Sunday's event and blaming it on weather when simultaneously all of these news articles are coming out about how the local mayor and police force were so unhappy with the traffic and logistics that they forced the shut down. This is definitely a PR mess for them and a lot of people are demanding refunds, which I think is warranted considering it's their poor event planning that caused so many people to miss the race. 

Many are pointing out that we should forget about asking for refunds and remember the Wounded Warriors Project, which Tough Mudder supports, but from what I can garner from their website, Tough Mudder doesn't actually donate any of your reg fee to this charity. They only offer you a discount if you pledge to raise $150+ on your own for the project. So, yeah. Bullshit. 

Have you ever done a Tough Mudder? Or any mud/obstacle type race? What are your thoughts?


  1. I've never done a tough mudder, I don't have much desire to do one. I'm a sissy and I'm afraid I would get hurt.
    You look super badass in your sweatband!
    Congrats! I would have given up in the traffic.

  2. Sounds like a fun/hectic/stressful day/race you had. I did the PA Tough Mudder back at the end of April and absolutely loved it. I did it with 3 friends from back home in NY (I now live in NJ...just temporary though, lol) and we got bussed from the Pocono raceway to Pocono Manor where they had the course set up. It was a bit cold at the start but the water obstacles really made me freeze my tights off, haha. The obstacles with the upper body strength were tough IMO...the incline monkey bars...the progressively higher wall barracks, the rings...etc...but the run was about 13 miles which was cake even though I saw A LOT of people walking up the hilly parts..and not hilly parts. I saw a lot of big muscley guys do great with the obstacles but not so great with the run. My teammates helped me a bit on the walls and stuff because that was tough for me...especially the 3rd wall where it was the tallest of them yet. The showers/lack there of at the end did stinks but we got our foil blankets immediately. I don't know if I would do it again but I am glad I did it for the experience. :) At least you can say that and you also had your friends with you and got some cool swag! ;)


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