Months ago, Luc found the Tough Mudder and sent it to me with a "hahaha, we should do this." We had a good laugh. A while later, I said, "no, Luc, really! Let's!" And we formed a team! Lee, Kelsey, Melanie, Martin, Josh, Matt, Julien, Troy, and I committed to train hard and long for this, a "7 mile obstacle course [which is] designed by British Special Forces to test all around toughness, strength, stamina, fitness, camaraderie, and mental grit." YEAH. (Luc ended up not being able to participate, but joined as a cheerleader and photographer.)
...okay, by "training hard and long", I mean, I continued running, but finally added upper body strength work to my schedule for good. Kelsey took me rock climbing, I did pushups, etc.
At 7:30am on May 1, 2010, we met at the GC parking lot for the carpool to Bear Creek, PA. We were dressed in ready-to-be-destroyed clothes, packed our lunches, and put on team bandannas made by Melanie:
After about a two hour drive, we arrived at the overflow parking lot. There we stood in line for shuttles...for another hour. Hundreds of people waited for a very small number of buses. The ride was only 15 minutes long, though, and they extended registration times and added starting waves to compensate. So we were fiiine.
The atmosphere was crazy at the ski resort:
People had already finished by the time we registered. We saw some obstacles from the road, and honestly? They did not look bad. Instantly felt better. But then, signs like this didn't help:
Soon, we were READY TO ROOOOCK:
The other three, Lee, Julien, and Troy, planned to run fast and be macho. We planned to be the Super Awesome Happy Fun Rainbows and Ponies team. I.e., finish with a good attitude and all of our limbs.
To get to the start line, we trekked up that big hill on the right. That's a ski slope. (Keep that in mind: all hills are *ski slopes*.) After psyching us up, the announcer had us recite the Tough Mudder creed: "It's not a race, it's a challenge, we'll help each other, we won't whine, etc." THEN, amid fireworks and screams of "FREEEEDOOOOOM", we rushed off to battle down the hill for the Braveheart Challenge [#1].
(Follow along the route here.) Immediately, we hit the Death March [#2], as we turned around and ran right back up that same freakin' hill. Starting adrenaline carried us for a while, and then the hill caught up to us and we slowed to a steady walk. In the heat and humidity (it was at least 90 F), the Sweaty Yeti [#3] was a relief: we crawled through a 20-foot patch of SNOW. Then, of course, we climbed some more. We jogged down, we climbed up, we moseyed over, we climbed up, we zigzagged down... on and on we went. Crawling under cargo nets for the Devil's Beard [#4] was just kind of annoying; carrying a small log up and right back down a hill in Hold Your Wood [#5] seemed unproductive.
We passed Luc just before the most draining (but not terrifying, for me) of them all: the Cliffhanger [#6].
Us looking happy before:
Us starting the mad march up the black diamond:
I don't think the photo does it justice. Kelsey and I were together the whole way. I promised to not leave her on a hill, she promised to not abandon me in horrifying future walls to surmount. We made friends in our little pauses. A sip of Gatorade from a nice man's Camelback (don't think about germs--we're FINE) rejuvenated us. Once we reached the summit, we REJOICED! The boring, exhausting parts were done! On to the random fun challenges!
Such as, crawling through gravely tunnels and getting scraped up in the Boa Constrictor [#7].
Walking/jogging/hiking for two miles in very pretty woods, over rocks, and through streams, while singing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan and being appreciated by shirtless Marines who "LOVED THAT MOVIE."
Running through INCREDIBLY refreshing cool mud in Swamp Stomp [#8]:
Crawling on our bellies through mud, under 8-inch high wires, in the Kiss of Mud [#9]:
Either do what Martin is doing below in the *ahem*mymomreadsthis [#10]:
Or just immediately get in the water on your back and pull yourself hand-over-hand through the water on the bottom rope, which is what the rest of us did.
We feel AWESOME:
Mastering the Underwater Tunnels [#11] proved to be quite easy, as there were only two barrels under which we had to bob.
Leaping off 10-foot high boards in Walk the Plank [#12] was awesome. Melanie and I jumped together. I swallowed half of the lake, as I tried to breathe a wee bit too soon. But I waved off three concerned scuba diver rescue men, and swam to the shore.
The most terrifying obstacles of them all for me were the Berlin Walls [#13]. These were 10-foot high sheer plank walls, with one teeny little footstep and NOTHING ELSE. You probably can't really see them in this picture:
But you can see the lines. This was the only real bottleneck we hit. The others of my team were able to get over mostly by themselves (Melanie may be a *bit* on the small side and needed some lift). I got over finally with dear, tall Matt SHOVING my foot up until I could swing it over. Then, I rather ungracefully slipped and slammed my body into the wall on the other side and thudded to the ground. Then we did this two more times. I have some GORGEOUS bruises!
Now, the course and course map disagree. We had the Killa Gorilla [#14], but it was only five times running up and down the same slope. Then Greased Lightening [#15] was sadly CLOSED, because the plastic for the slip'n'slide into the lake ripped and was causing broken arms. We rolled down the neighboring hill and waded through the water instead. :D
The Fire Walker [#16] was the last! We ran! We choked! I got a lungful of smoke!
The final Mystery Obstacle [#17] was definitely not truly bad-oh never mind, it was just a ring of fire (accompanied by Johnny Cash himself!):
The whole team had a blast and survived our 2:20:00 hours of fun:
And then firemen hosed us off!
We hung out for a bit, changed, watched the costume contest (three Avatar guys won), and left exhausted and sun-kissed. Buffalo wings, curly friends, and a burger cheered us up immensely, just in time for the long drive home. :D
I probably won't do another Tough Mudder (it was expensive and I'd rather just run), but I may go cheer the team on as they tackle another one in November!