I’ve been doing obstacle races for years now, but somehow, hadn’t done a Tough Mudder. You hear “it’s not a race, it’s a challenge”, and “it’s all about teamwork”, but what does that mean?
Well, once you line up at the start, you’re not actually going to start. You’re at least 30 minutes away from starting. You have 15 minutes of prep with a person who does review some brief safety things (while also doing some jogging in place warming up). Then, you hop over a wall, then get 15 minutes of motivational speeches. Finally, you are off to the races (sorry, not a race, challenges). I know some people enjoy these type of pre-race things, however, personally, I'd rather just get the race started.
On the course, everyone is working together. Some obstacles you can make it okay on your own. Others, other than for possibly 1% of the competitors, absolutely do require teamwork. There’s a good mix of “fun” and “tough” obstacles. King of the Swingers = just good plain fun (that you do completely on your own). Block Ness Monster is also tons of fun, but this is one that requires teamwork (there are rotating blocks in the water that you have to hang on to while people on both sides rotate the blocks to flip you over with them. Rinse & repeat three times). Miles of Mud, Everest 2.0 are also ones that while technically possible solo, are a lot easier with teamwork. It's worth noting, even if you don't have an actual team, plenty of people will help you while out on the course, as long as you return the favor, so having a full-team isn't necessary to sign up!
Human Pyramid was an interesting experiment. Its concept is simple: an inclined wall you have to make your way up. Except it starts in a mud pit, so you can’t get a running start, is slightly slick, and rather tall. So you have to stack people on top of each other to help people up. Teams try all different methods, but this is one obstacle that emphasizes the team aspect for Tough Mudder.
All in all, the Atlanta course clocked in at just about 12 miles. As mentioned previously, it had a good mix of fun, and difficult obstacles. Parking was plentiful, even if it did require a mile walk if you didn’t shell out the extra $20 for premium parking. The festival area had a lot of activities for familiar & spectators, and there seemed to be plenty of hoses for washing off when I finished.
One obstacle not previously mentioned was electroshock-therapy. It’s this author’s opinion that this obstacle has no place on any course in the sport (and almost every race has done away with it besides Tough Mudder at this point). It’s telling that Tough Mudder advertises their new Tough Mudder half as “You definitely don’t have to get near electro-shock therapy.”
Would I recommend Tough Mudder to other people? It depends. Tough Mudder half? Absolutely. Tough Mudder full? Probably not to a beginner. Between the distance (12+ miles), and having electro-shock therapy, it simply isn’t a great event for a beginner. Someone more experienced, who has a better feel for “You can’t skip any obstacle you don’t feel comfortable with”, as well as being more prepared for 12 miles, then sure.
Have you done a Tough Mudder? Leave your own Tough Mudder review and feedback
All photos courtesy of Ryan Jobman