When you’ve been doing OCR as long as I have, the social media queue stacks up at this time of year with last race of the season memories. ABF Mud Run, Spartan, Hardcore, and others remind me of medals, souvenirs, great experiences, and the community of OCR athletes whom I love. This year my season ended on a different note. I ran a new race (for me) that has also been around a long time. I headed up to the familiar Englishtown Raceway, just an hour north of home. No, it wasn’t for Bonefrog, Terrain, or Rock Solid. This time it was for the granddaddy of them all, where it all started in 2011 for the World’s Toughest Mudder.
As a first-timer I chose to introduce myself to this race by doing the Half on Sunday. It was five miles and thirteen obstacles. The biggest obstacle of all, I knew from experience, was the mud. That’s what I love most about this venue. It is a true mud run. Absolutely loaded. As in there is no way you will do this race and not get caked, slathered, dunked, and just get the best spa mud treatment of your life.
Which is probably why Tough Mudder has a thing going with Soap & Glory. Best post-race shower experience ever. This UK-based company offering “fun, fearlessly world-class products…supporting the Clean of England since 2006” offered the soaps and suds that I heard more than one girl say she loved and I saw more than one guy lathering up happily.
The other UK suds offered at Tough Mudder was a crowd favorite Guinness Blonde.
Besides the mud, suds, soap, and glory, the Tough Mudder Half offered up thirteen obstacles which, to this very seasoned veteran, were very easy. Yes, Block Ness Monster is a challenge made quite enjoyable by fabulous teamwork. Yes, Everest is a challenge for the uninitiated who don’t know about the huge lip at the top requiring that extra two-feet of reach. Otherwise, the obstacles were kept at a low level of difficulty. Except for the famous mud of Englishtown. Mud Mile 2.0 was all of that mud but really only about 20 yards long. I suspect that this design is for a good reason. Encourage the teamwork and the new athletes to come back again and try themselves on the Full course which did include a lot more of the classic obstacles like Kong and Funky Monkey.
A TM motive or not, I highly recommend this course and this race for those new to OCR. I also recommend getting ready just a little bit more as the late breaking news out of TM HQ is that the TM Full and Half will be replaced next year with the Classic.
Besides the mud, my absolute favorite part of this event was the starting line MC, Mr. Sean Corvelle. This gentleman provided an amazing moment for us. It was honest, unscripted, and to a guy like me who hates motivational speeches, he was truly motivating. I think that’s because he is a patriot, a warrior at heart, and a caring human being. It wasn’t about the race. It was about us, our team, our country. After playing a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem, he sent us on our way. He said he could have chosen to stay in California last weekend to host the Toughest Mudder there. But he came east because he just loves the vibe, the history, and the people here. As we took a knee to hear him, we also loved him back. It was very cool.
The festival area was well-stocked with local, U. S. and international offerings of food, freebies, gear, and extra challenges. Registration was flawless and fast. By 1100, there were no more lines however. That was kind of sad for me because I like to see the activity stay at a high level the entire day. Hopefully Saturday was better. In addition to the soapy showers, there were large, clean changing tents for the men and women. At the finish line, athletes claimed various headbands for swag. There were headbands for finishers, repeat offenders, and other categories that distinguished athletes for completing various TM events during and over multiple seasons. This is the first OCR I ran that did not give out medals. Headbands are the thing in Mudder Nation.
Thanks to my wife Heather for taking all the action photos today. I'll give her 5 stars and to TM Half, I award 4 out of 5.
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