While the season may be over for some, and others are busy preparing for World's Toughest Mudder, for the few thousand of us who strolled into Lake Elsinore last Sunday, we came ready to kick ass.
The day started out pleasantly, as the weather was warm, locating the parking site was quick and easy and there were next to no lines at registration. As I quickly picked up my race packet and gave some lucky chap my free beer ticket, I prepared to jump in to the last wave of the day, along with a few hundred other determined runners.
Upon arrival, I was a little surprised with how Tough Mudder had designed the start line. If you're unfamiliar, Tough Mudder (or TM for short) recently created new race distances ranging from original (10-12 mile course), Half (5-mile course) and the TM 5k which is exactly 3.1 miles and geared mostly towards first-timers. I thought it was interesting that Tough Mudder had all three race styles in the same starting corral. Interesting. and potentially problematic, yet it seemed to go over pretty smoothly.
“The Mirror Man” Sean Corvelle delivering one of his brilliant take-off speeches to a crowd of eager participants
As I stepped in the corral, I chatted with a few first timers and wished them luck. Sean Corvelle, the Tough Mudder Start Line announcer shouted words of encouragement and preached love, support, and camaraderie. We took a knee, had a few seconds of silence for the fallen soldiers and high fived our fellow mudders good luck. And just like that, we were off!
As stated earlier, all three distances started together, yet forked off to form separate paths for the different distances. This did bring me to wonder if this would continue to be efficient and sustainable for future races, seeing as how course cutting has been an issue in the past. Course cutting can happen when someone signs up for a shorter (and less costly) event, such as the 5k and decides to switch paths and finish the Full course, or vice versa- if someone were to sign up for the Full, and switch to a shorter distance yet still collect the Full Finisher shirt and headband. In my opinion, TMHQ (Tough Mudder Headquarters) should plan to monitor these situations closely in the near future, to prevent fraud, loss of funds and to ensure proper T-shirts and sizes are handed out post race.
Regardless of my worries, the race went smoothly and I sighted no course cutters on my path. I approached various obstacles such as Warrior Carry- an obstacle where you select a random partner, carry them on your back for approximately 200 meters, followed by a few big and sloppy Mud Pits, the 10-foot wall, my personal favorite, The Blockness Monster (photo below) and the infamous Everest 2.0. The obstacles were very simple yet some were more challenging and fun than others. Everest and Blockness Monster being more difficult and thrilling, yet easily doable with help from many strangers and course volunteers.
Blockness Monster, a signature Tough Mudder obstacle which requires both upper body strength and teamwork.
After finishing the race, I was eager to check out the vendors and change out of my wet and muddy clothes. There were ample amounts of hoses for us to rinse off with and a spacious changing room sectioned off by gender. After cleaning myself up, I grabbed my free can of Celsius to refresh myself with and snacked on a few Redd bar samples. I was completely overjoyed to see that Barnana (a Santa Monica based company that sells organic, recycled and dehydrated banana bars) had a booth and was offering free samples and bags of goodies for sale. I stocked up on those tasty bags of goodness and enjoyed some tacos from a nearby food truck.
Barnana- the super banana snack had eager workers handing out samples of their new plantain chips and original tasty bars.
Redd Bars, and their supply of samples for racers and spectators alike.
Overall, I'd say this race was a perfect taste of what OCR is about. The camaraderie and support may be unique to Tough Mudder, but it is something that I have noticed many other race companies incorporating into their events. And although the course was flat (my Garmin watch only tracked 127 feet of elevation) it was a great event for first-timers and for those who were looking for something a little more subdued. And though I cannot speak of how exciting and/or challenging the Full course might have been, I can honestly say that the half was a great representation of what happens when fitness meets fun.
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