So 6 months ago I agreed to be part of a Tough Mudder team comprised of a bunch of folks from my gym. To put this into perspective, most of the people on the team are fitter, faster and stronger than me.
Those 6 months went by very fast. I should have done some extra things to prepare, like running hills or running, period. Thankfully my cardio wasn’t totally shot since we made ample use of the rowing machines at CrossFit during the winter. I also signed up for the O Course (again) 2 weeks prior to the Mudder Event to get some distance running in (8km) along with some practice with obstacles. I was surprised by how well I handled the run and I finished in the top third of people there.
This takes us to the few days before the event. I took a few days off of going to CrossFit to rest up. I also went to Mountain Equipment Co-Op and picked up some Merrell TrailGloves and snacks (gels) to consume while on the course. Stupidly, I also started watching YouTube videos of people doing the obstacles. Bad Idea!. I started worrying about getting electrocuted. There are tons of videos of people doing epic faceplants while getting zapped running through Electroshock Therapy… the last obstacle. I didn’t worry about the walls, water or mud.
My family was supposed to come with me but Cooper had a birthday party to go to on the same day and it had a cool murder mystery theme… so they stayed behind and I set out solo.
I drove out early… way earlier than needed since I thought the drive was going to be bad. It really wasn’t. We were directed to park in a huge field and then we’d get bussed to the final location. It was COLD and RAINY and my feet got soaked waiting for the bus. I didn’t see any of the team yet and didn’t expect to until a little later on. The bus ride was around 30 minutes long and there were lots of people making nervous jokes about the days upcoming events. I could have been the oldest guy on that specific bus.
We got to Mount St Louis Moonstone… a ski hill, where the event was staged. A SKI HILL… nice.. We filed out of the bus to the entry stalls where they checked our ID, made sure we signed our 4 page Death Waivers and then they put our bracelets on… one for entry to the beer tent at the end, one for my bag drop and one for entry to the starting gate. I’m guessing that the folks there to cheer people on got some other color.
Once inside the gates, the place teemed with energy. It had the feel of a very, very small Olympic Village… tons of port-a-potties, a huge tent with merchandise (where people went to get warm) and tents with vendors set up… who offered tons of free samples. They also had a closed off Beer Area set up along with a stage where some DJ was making announcements and playing music.
I walked around for around 2 hours trying to stay warm… I had time to kill. Our team’s start time was noon. We were in the second to last group to head up the mountain… did I mention we were on a SKI HILL? Anyways… I hung out around the Start/Finish line. I managed to catch several of the earlier teams head out and was eager to see someone come across the Finish line. There were some interesting costumes on display. Tons of teams got dressed up. Some like their favorite superheroes, some like bees and some like Chippendale’s Dancers. I was cold and I had leggings, shorts, a long sleeve moisture wicking shirt and a Dri-Fit T-Shirt over that. I couldn’t imagine how cold those folks were. I kept bouncing around between the Clif Bar Vendor Tent and the starting gate. Eventually I bumped into a bunch of my teammates and we stuck together until the start time.
We headed to the Starting Line and started stretching… last chance to warm up a little before the Big Show starts up. By then we started to see more and more people go through the finish line.. some faceplanting did occur. Also noticeable was that the mountain that was once green just a few hours before was now turning brown, as hundreds of people chew up the course.
As we readied ourselves and take a group “before” picture, Matt from our box comes by. He had done the run earlier in the day… around 8:30am or so and finished in 1 hour and 50 minutes… he also volunteered to run it again with us. Not a knock on Matt… who I now believe is some undercover superhero, but when someone tells you they ran it in under 2 hours and had enough energy to run it again, I start to think that this thing is actually not as hard as I thought it was.
So there we were.. Navin, Syd, Matt, Sarah, Karl, Michelle and myself heading to the Start Line, our numbers pinned to our shirts, not saying too much. We collectively scale a wall to get to the starting gate (yeah… an obstacle on the way to the starting gate) and the announcer starts his speech. As he does so… I can’t help but think that we’re on a freaking SKI HILL! Click here to see the race announcer get everyone psyched up… same guy but different speech for us. He was awesome. Off we go!