***SCROLL DOWN FOR TOUGH MUDDER TOP TIPS***
My excellent team - You don't make friends with salad - was captained by Tash (the sister of my sister's boyfriend), with Larry (the husband of the sister of my sister's boyfriend), Charles (the friend of the husba....), Tim, Elliott, Alice and I. Thankfully the others had some prior experience and strong muscles. I actually really liked that team work is such a strong element of the event, especially when being hauled over various structures.
But what to wear for such events? I was kindly given some bamboo activewear by Bamboo Clothing - and wore cropped leggings and socks made of the softest bamboo fibres. My leggings were super flexible (great for lifting one's feet when clambering over high things), and were thick enough to provide some protection when crawling along the floor under barbed wire (sounds really fun doesn't it?). The socks are like wearing little, fluffy clouds surrounding my feet - which was great for the 10.2 miles of trail running. I enjoyed the wooded footpaths that made up the course, and amazingly didn't have any trouble with blisters despite having wet feet almost the whole time. I also wasn't sure if I'd ever get them clean but they washed up just fine and don't look any worse for it. I *heart* bamboo socks.
Watery obstacles were frequent and ranged from ducking under large tubes, sliding into ice water, swimming (only because I couldn't do the monkeybars - new life goal I think) and jumping from a 5 metre high platform. I'm not a natural water baby and found these obstacles the toughest. I only jumped from the platform because Tim was shouting at me! And I was really grateful to a fellow mudder for guiding me under the large tubes. The bamboo socks did a great job, but the leggings retained the water for longer than synthetic materials, encouraging me to run faster to warm up.
The parts of the event I enjoyed the most were the more physical challenges involving team work. I was particularly proud of giving a strange man a piggyback! Being hoisted over walls by Charles and Elliott and helping Tash and Larry carry a large log was a bonding experience. The final obstacle - Human Pyramid - was impossible to complete without help from others. We splashed into the water at the bottom of the slippery slope (yes more water) to give a leg up to another mudder reaching her team. Once we'd worked out a strategy, everyone helped everyone else to the top even though we were all exhausted.
Why would you pay good money to slide around in mud, get electrocuted, bruised, soaked, ruin your clothes and spend the rest of the weekend exhausted? Because the sense of pride at the end is enormous. Because the sense of achieving something as a team feels good. And facing a challenge and overcoming it is what I love to do.
TOUGH MUDDER TOP TIPS
- Fuel and refuel - have a good breakfast. You'll get a few snacks (don't worry, vegan ones) but you'll be active for three or four hours. Refuel at the end. I had a VFuel UK protein shake as soon as I could, to aid muscle recovery.
- Kit - trail shoes are a huge asset. They will allow you to grip even during the slippery paths. But don't bring anything you don't mind getting potentially ruined (my old trail shoes went through the wash and are now fine).
- Friends - it's all about team work. Pick some good mates or volunteer for the chance to make new friends.
- Enjoy - don't want to do a particular obstacle? You don't have to. Want some help with being pulled up/pushed over/encouraged/guided under? Ask anyone.
- Book early! - Tough mudder isn't cheap to enter, and it gets more expensive the closer you get to event day. Book well in advance to get savings.
Thinking about entering but have some questions? Got any top tips for obstacle courses? Comment below :)