Daily Chatter

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tough Mudder VA - A Real Pain in the...

Tough Mudder Virginia
October 23, 2011

Let's start with the disclaimer that I will probably have the sequence of obstacles off a bit for multiple reasons.  But if you were out there on Saturday or Sunday and want to point out that the order of things was different feel free to waste your time because I won't care.  In a different kind of way this was THE hardest event I have ever completed and I've done a 50 mile trail race!  So my memory is a bit fuzzy AND the Tough Mudder website does not have a correct listing of the actual obstacles to help my memory. 
And if you didn't do it, just congratulate me for surviving.

Since the Super Secret Spy and I didn't register until late in the game, our start time wasn't until noon on Sunday.  Little did we know this would turn out to be in our favor.  The setting was the beautiful Wintergreen ResortIt was the perfect setting to have your a** handed to you for a challenging event.  The ski slopes and nature terrain added my favorite element! 

We left the house early after being told to expect to arrive 2.5 hours early.  We only drove for about 50 minutes before we arrived.  That was about 40 minutes faster than we thought the drive would take us.  Since I was worried about getting there, I talked the super secret spy into waiting for breakfast.  "We could find something there or along the way," was my brilliant direction.  However, the resort was of course in the middle of nowhereville so the only food option was Tex-Mex...for breakfast?  We decided to get something on site.  It was a huge event there would be food, right?

Luckily for me there was a food vendor selling the smallest ever breakfast sandwiches and drinks.  The super secret spy didn't think his banana from home was enough so he had several sandwiches and coffee.  One was enough for me.  I just wanted to get started but we had over an hour to wait.  And our teammates hadn't even arrived yet.

I wish I had photos from the face marking and packet pickup but I don't.  Somehow I forgot all about wanting to take photos until we were already through bag check.  I will have more photos of our team once I can get the super secret spy to stop saving the world long enough to send them to me. 

What follows are most of the obstacles with the Tough Mudder websites caption and how our team handled each one. 
Block me in for the next 20 minutes, grab a cup of coffee because you are going to be here a while.
Thanks in advance for reading all this.

After the reminder of our Bio Hazard team S&M finally got there with about 20 minutes to spare, we quickly checked their bags and ran a potty stop.  This only lead to losing the super secret spy and missing our official Tough Mudder Team start photo but with the national anthem playing we finally found him and our team joined in the pep rally and we were off!
1. Braveheart Charge – Charge into battle with 5000 other mudders. Battle cries essential.
We ran through water spraying everything and everyone as we rounded the turn to see our first of many giant ski slope.  The ultra runner in me was in heaven.  We wanted to complete the event together and I tried to stay with our team during the hills which were more challenging for some than the actual obstacles.

 Berlin Walls #1 – Show team spirit and camaraderie as you work with other Tough Mudders to scale our series of 12-foot high walls, tough enough when dry, but really fun when wet.

We approached the first set of walls after the hill climb and didn't have to wait to get over them.  The guys worked great at assisting S and myself over the walls.  First challenge down and we are all still super excited.

The Gauntlet – Prepare to feel like you’re at a South American political demonstration as you get high pressure hosed from both sides as you run through Wintergreen’s halfpipe

The next obstacle was rolls of large round hay bales that we had to climb over while getting hosed down by the wonderful Tough Mudder workers.  I wonder what question on the Tough Mudder employment application indicates who would best fill a position like that?
Our team made short work of this obstacle.  We were starting to get dirty and the real fun was just beginning.

 Devil’s Beard – Try as you might, you will get caught like a fly in a spider’s web time and time again in our annoyingly low cargo nets.
This obstacle sat at the top of a very very long and steep climb.  S was really having trouble with the inclines and fell behind.  M went back and stayed with her while the super secret spy and I charged on.  I reached the top first and cheered for my teammates while helping to hold up the cargo for other Mudders.  Yes, sitting in the mud with a skirt on was fabulous.  Sparkle Skirt sooo should have sent me a skirt to wear.  I could have demonstrated the wear ability! 

Down hills like this were repeated many times over and went on and on.  I think it was great training for the Fire on the mountain Trail 50k this Sunday!  Everyone else on the team didn't seem to enjoy it as much as Super Strong Legs Shelly did.

Hold Your Wood – Make like a lumberjack and drag a log up a ski slope and then try to keep your footing on the way back down. 

Our team regrouped at the next challenge but decided not to carry a group log.  S was still winded from the down hill and needed to recover so we each grabbed a log and headed off.  The super secret spy and I waited at the turn around and after a minute S was ready to head back in.  Unfortunately I got caught up in the fun and ran to the end of the challenge after a, "Let's go!" declaration.  It seems that not everyone was ready to jog holding an awkward piece of tree as I was.

 Funky Monkey – Monkey Bars were easy when you were five, but you’ll need to hold on extra tight to these. Some of them have been greased with butter and you’ll get a shock when you fall into an ice cold lake.

The next obstacle was one of the ones I was dreading. 
Welcome, No Upper Body Strength Shelly.
"NUBSS" attempted this challenge but did not make it across without swimming.  The super secret spy and M breezed through it and S made it almost the entire way before swimming too.

 Twinkle Toes – Make your way across a log bridge without falling into a freezing cold lake

The Log Bog Jog – Because running through a swamp isn’t tough enough, you’ll have to hop over or under a series of fallen trees

After fighting our way through a forest trail blocked by fallen logs we ended up at the next obstacle.  All our team members made it across without swimming.  There were hugs and high fives for everyone! 

Chernobyl Jacuzzi – Jump in and out of an icy mixture of assorted carcinogens. The additional limbs you’ll grow will surely help you on later obstacles.
Next up you had your pick, ice filled water that was blue or ice filled water that was muddy and littered.  There seemed to be less ice in the muddy water so S and I jumped in.  We were wrong.  Instantly the muscles froze and locked up.  The guys both chose the other tub and amazingly scampered through and out.  S and I needed to be pulled out.  Hello, NUBSS.  I simply could not get my arms to extend long enough to grab the top of the tank.

Spider’s Web – Fight your way up over not one but two cargo nets. The view from the top is nice, but we think it’s best you get down the other side as soon as humanly possible.
We were quickly at the next obstacle which was great because we were freezing making this a bigger challenge than it might seem.  The ladies went over and then I held the bottom of the net - yeah, in the mud with my skirt again! - while the guys climbed over.  We took turned holding the net for several other teams to quickly cross.  Teamwork.  That's what Tough Mudder is ALL about.


 Cliff Hanger – Grab onto anything you can as you scramble up and over the hills of this muddy mountain track

Not sure what this obstacle was.  Simply the course it's self maybe.  I'll talk on our team's abilities to do that more later.  We are just getting to the fun.  and by fun I mean a whole lot O'hurting!

Greased Lightening – Have some fun sliding down on your ass, real Tough Mudders go head first back into the pond.
As we approached this slip and slide obstacle I though, LAME.  Okay there is another muddy pond of water to get soaked in and keep those muscles cramped up but really? 
Then I was on it and picking up speed... sitting on my a** because that is where I fell when I stepped onto the slide.  Real Tough Mudders go head first.  So glad I didn't do that.  Because Tough Mudder got confused and thought Tough was a synonym for Dangerous.  In case you are wondering, it's NOT. 
There were rocks under the slip and slide trap.  I could hear other people yelling as they hit them.  Not knowing what was going on and having the super secret spy slide down without incident, I continued to curse along just slightly behind and to the left of S.  Then there was a big puddle of water in my path and the depression from the water pulled me into it.
I am proud to say I didn't cuss or cry.  But I wanted to do both.  I nearly vomited.  That is how much it hurt.  My tailbone, hidden rock and speed collided.
Suck it up Shelly!...and I did.

Boa Constrictor – Crawl through a series of pipes that may also force you into freezing, muddy water.

With my tailbone screaming at me I found myself in front of my next dreaded obstacle. 
An enclosed space.  With Water!
Okay, enough drama.  I did it and it wasn't as hard to set that fear aside as I though it would be.  Maybe my rear hurting distracted me but we all wiggled our way through easily.

Underwater Tunnels – Bob underneath the obstacles on the surface of the water as your head shrinks to the size of a walnut.

Sorry no photo of this one but you get the idea.  Trees across water with barbed wire over top so you had to stay submerged in the freezing cold water.  We all did it and kept moving.

Death March – Feel the burn early on as you charge straight up this red graded ski run to the top of the mountain.
Super Strong Legs Shelly LOVED this one.  Seriously this climb just went on and on.  I should be embarrassed for leaving my team in the dust but I was using this as training for the FOTM and secretly having a blast crushing this hill!  I got to the top and cheered for everyone while I waited.  Bio Hazard killed the hill but they wanted to take 5 at the water/banana stop at the top of the hill after this....

Kiss of Mud – Eat dirt as you crawl on your belly under wire set only 8 inches from the ground.

Did you know that there are rocks in the ground?  Yeah there are.  And every single one of them was in the lane I crawled through.  Team Bio Hazard got a few scraped knees on this one but no one got cut on the wire so we made it fairly intact.  And they all happily rested at the water station.
After a little rest, I convinced everyone to get moving again.  I think we were all getting really cold even with the space blankets that some people were using thanks to the water station.  We ran/walked through a beautiful area and then a gold course.  I couldn't believe they were allowing us to trample the greens!  I got ahead again with all the trail running opportunities and enjoyed the gold course terrain. 

Log Jammin’ – Don’t bang your head as you navigate over and under a series of logs.
I waited for everyone to arrive at the obstacle and then Team Bio Hazard completed it together.  Sorry no photo of this one but you get the idea. Trees across one another stacked 6 feet high with barbed wire over top so you had to go under some and over other. We all did it and kept moving.

I'm missing or Tough Mudder is missing an obstacle.  Piles of round hay bales to climb over.  Seeing how there weren't filled with needles, heehee it was one of the easier "challenges" as many commented however when you are tired and freezing cold anything in your way can be a challenge. 

This photo is not from my actual event.  And I don't just say this because I was terrified of going over those walls....yeah two of them, but our walls were taller!  They were 12 feet tall.  This is a photo of the first set of walls. 
Berlin Walls #2 – Yet another set of brutal walls. Don’t slip off the top!
We all had to wait to get onto this obstacle.  It was on of the few times we had much of a wait.  As we got closer I got more nervous but the super secret spy and a fellow mudder simply shoulder pressed me to the top and I flipped over.  Little did I know the difference between my 5'2" body extended and a 12' wall was great than I thought because I ended up on my butt again.  OUCH!  Still no cussing or crying.  I helped S drop down after the guys pressed her over.  The guys helped a few others and then got a boost themselves and we repeated the process for the next wall.  Minus me falling on my butt.

Mystery Obstacle – Obstacle Design Race Day Surprise. Expect Something Truly Bad Ass.

If you are still reading you have learn a little bit about me.  I do things I don't want to do when the super secret spy is around.  I get off on climbing love to climb really steep and long hills.  I feel like a kid when I'm covered with mud.  I may not be the best team player.  I tend to charge ahead.  I am afraid of enclosed spaces.  I can suck up pain like no body's business.  I can go all morning without eating much.  I don't like to stop.  I have no upper body strong.  I have multiple personalities. 
It's that first one that got me to do this challenge.
A lady with a bull horn was screaming at us to climb the obstacle, sit on the edge and go feet first.  S and I climb up and take openings beside each other.  Okay I can follow instruction.  I climb.  I sit.  I put my feet into the smoke void.  There is a short wall in front of me and I don't understand that I need to press my back against the back wall and then drop down.  I think there will be water so I push off.
No cussing.  No tears that anyone saw. 
I smack my tailbones and it hurts so sharply that I spring backwards and smack my head off the ground.
STARS!I squat down for a minute while a Tough Mudder Medical dude checks my pupils.  I stand.  I wobble.  I squat back down for a minute.  Medical Tough Mudder clears me to continue if I think I'm okay.
I'm okay.
Suck It Up Shelly is here so we charge ahead. 
Almost done.

Kinky Tunnels – Kinky refers to the bends in the tunnels, not what takes place while inside...we think.
After the abuse I just took I know that I can force myself into another
enclosed space!
This one is dark AND I can't see the end.  Team Bio Hazard charges in and I follow.
Praying a little bit that no one stopped moving.
We all make it through without anyone (me) freaking out.

Shake n’ Bake – After being hosed down by the fire department, crawl through sand. If you have ever wanted to feel like breaded chicken (or sushi crunch), you’re welcome.
Another climb and we get to coat ourselves in sand (it's sparkles!  not kidding) as we low crawl under wire.

Turd’s Nest – Try not to fall as you make your way across this fragile net.

Another Tough Mudder employee must have checked the right box on his resume because he got to hose us down while we tried to cross another cargo net.  Team Bio Hazard jumps onto the net and rolls through the spray.  Now slightly cleaner.

Everest – You’ll need help from your fellow mudders to reach the top of this slippery giant quarter pipe.

We trek down another hill thinking we are almost done.  Then we see this.  What has to be the hardest challenge.  M and super secret spy run, jump, grab and are pulled over the wall.  S and I attempt and attempt this.  But after grated knees from all the sand on the bottom of the pipe and sliding on the grease, we can't grab anyone.  I wish that I had thought about other ways to get over this challenge because we didn't exhaust all our options. 
For me this was a FAIL.

Fire Walker – Plain and simple run through our blazing kerosene soaked straw. Expect flames at least 4 feet high.
Finally for the photo op challenge.  I was so excited for a leaping flame photo.  There was no line of fire for me to jump over.  There was fire all around me and smoke thick enough to kill me but Team Bio Hazard didn't get it's leaping flame photo.  We were excited that only one challenge stood between us and the beer finish line. 
Another thing about me, I don't drink so the beer is really a joke for Team Bio Hazard.
But they all enjoyed the beer.  I just did all this for the cool headband.

Electroshock Therapy – Release your inner demons as you sprint through a field of live wires, some of which carry a 10,000 volt shock.
We went into this challenge single file.  S and I got zapped a couple times.  Only one was hard.  The guys didn't admit to any discomfort.  They are far too tough to feel a measly shock.
We grabbed hands and ran through to finish. 

There were so many interesting costumes and people to see.  The entire experience was amazing.  I'll save my criticisms for a later post.  And there are a few.  But I asked to be challenged when I signed up and Tough Mudder delivered.
I couldn't have asked for a better team and nicer fellow Mudders to complete this event with.
Thanks to all other Mudders who push my butt through this challenge.

9.8 miles.  25 obstales.  A great afternoon.
We are Tough Mudders!

No post is complete without a classic over head shot.

Happily back at the truck and ready to change clothes no matter who sees.

Thanks to Champion for the EcoFleece that comforted me after a great adventure.
Watch for my review coming soon.

*photo credits UsuallyStephanie and Tough Mudder


  1. Ok, that electroshock therapy just doesn't sound fun! But the rest of it does! You are badass. I love how you took this challenge and made it yours. Way to go!

  2. Wow. That totally made me NOT want to do that. At all. Congrats on this huge accomplishment. Glad you made it out safe!

  3. Looks exciting. I kind of always thought of these things as a bit...umm...manufactured?...and not something I would like...think you changed my mind!

  4. This just looks like such a blast! Congrats to you both for becoming Tough Mudders!!!

  5. You are awesome! Definitely not my cup of tea but you made it sound almost fun....except for electroshock therapy.

  6. At first (for some reason) I thought this was an ultra event. I was reading along, looking at pictures, thinking "she did this for 50K?" LOL, I need to pay more attention. Anyway, even for a short distance this looks like just about the nuttiest, craziest, messiest thing EVER! Looks like fun though. :) Congrats on surviving!!!

  7. Holy crap! The bloody knees! The mud! That looks insanely intense, and dare I say...kinda fun? So glad you survived it!!

  8. That was JUST CRAZY!! Mine was not nearly as CRAZY as that!!
    Did I mention yet that this looks CRAZY?

    YOU rock!

  9. Congrats, but crazy, just crazy. When I found out about it I was all "sign me up!". Then I looked into it more and decided that Warrior Dash is more my style. I have scars from that one - no telling what TM would do to me. Kind of thankful that TM Whistler is on the same weekend as RnR Seattle and I won't be able to make it... Oh, and just call me NUBSA. :)

  10. Wow, that just confirmed how much I never want to do one of these. I'd run the Le Grizz 50 in Montana and dodge bears. :)

    You are a rock star for being so tough!

  11. Wow. That is that craziest thing I have ever seen. If this is your taper for a 50, what would your taper look like for a 100!?

    And to think that I chickened out of Warrior Dash....

  12. Wow!! That's an epic race! I've got to do one of these someday : )