Last month team #tigerblood accepted the Tough Mudder challenge. Unfortunately by event day the team had dwindled to just four – my brother (Jeff Krawiec), his friend (Justin Brown), and my friend (Joel Jacob). We also took our friend Jason Meredith as the official team photographer. The course location was Badlands Off Road Park in Attica, Indiana. The morning was overcast, mid 40s, and steady wind. Short of icy rain, I could not imagine worse conditions.
We drove up the night before to be closer to the event and get extra sleep as we were the 9:00am wave Saturday. We carb-loaded on the way up eating a maximum amount of calories for dinner. Rage Against the Machine helped get our minds right.
I read several blogs about what to wear. Tough Mudder is about just that – mud. Since our event was in November I wanted to balance warmth, breath-ability, and durability. In the end, I went with layers. Headbands off to those that wore costumes or limited clothing.
- Under Armour ColdGear compression leggings
- Under Armour ColdGear longsleeve compression mock
- Gym shorts
- Nike Dry-Fit short sleeve
- SmartWool slim socks
- Running shoes
- Padded, mesh work gloves
We arrived the recommended 2 hours early to park, register, and prepare. This turned out to be more than enough time. You sign a death waiver. You get your number marked on your forehead. It's serious.
Toughest Tough Mudder Obstacles
The course changed slightly. It dropped from 12 miles to 10 miles. But they added 3 additional obstacles, “just to kick our ass”. They send you out in waves of about 500 every 20 minutes. Blared Eye of the Tiger. Popped the orange smoke. And off we went.
Tough is a dynamic word. I couldn't say what the toughest obstacle was for me.
Physically would have been Swamp Stomp. It was probably a third of a mile in waist deep, cold swamp water. Nothing to help balance. No end in sight. Just wading, trying not to get stuck in the mud or break your ankle under a tree root. My feet were numb.
Tough as in mean. Probably Chernobyl Jacuzzi. Essentially a 30ft construction dumpster, lined and filled with dyed green water and ice cubes. You climb up, jump in, swim under a divider, and climb out the other side. Pure instinct sets in. Once in the water, my brain screamed “get out”. I had to focus just to breathe. And I see the divider with a down arrow. I have to go under to get out on the other side. But something in you says not to put your head under the water.
Tough as in rugged, Electroshock Therapy. This obstacle is right at the end with all the spectators. Everyone loves the Electroshock Therapy. It's the signature Tough Mudder obstacle. A gauntlet of dangling hot wires above mud and haybales. You just go for it. You just take it. Because on the other side they crown you with your orange headband.
After the race I was immediately shivering. I honestly believe if we hadn't been moving the whole time, hypothermia would have set in. I had some thigh muscle craps in the final miles. The last obstacle my left leg basically locked up.
When changing, I couldn't take off my shoes. When I tried, my calf muscle spasmed. Very odd, painful feeling. In addition, mud was on everything. I noticed many people throwing away clothes and donating their shoes. Next time, I will do that and bring a plastic bag for the clothes I do save.
We toasted to our accomplishment with our free Dos Equis and watched the other finishers. Between the cold and exhaustion, we didn't stay long. We started home, demolishing a KFC buffet on the way. Before parting ways, we all agreed we would do another Tough Mudder…
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