A Blow-By-Blow Walkthrough of the Tough Mudder (1): Starting Line

“So, what was it like?  How’d it go?”

This is the question everyone has been asking me, so I decided to take the time to write a summary of my experience with the Tough Mudder.  My goal is to both give a window to the curious as well as to better equip those who are thinking of participating in a Mudder-like event.

It took us 2.5 hours to get to Merrimac from Chicago, and about an hour to park.  It really wasn’t that frustrating, though it might have been if we had been under a time crunch.  (Incidentally, if you missed your heat time, you could just jump into a later heat, so it wouldn’t have been a big deal either way.)

Once we parked, we dropped off our death waivers, picked up our race packets, and checked our bags.  Zero wait time.  In addition to wearing a race bib with our number, they wrote the bib number on our foreheads and arms.  They said this was to help with identification for photography as well as in emergency situations.  It also looked pretty cool.

Food-wise, I ate a breakfast of 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon and 48 oz. of water at about 6:30 in the morning (which is my standard breakfast). Dave and I both ate a PB&J sandwich and a banana for lunch at 10:45, which was 2 hours before our 12:40 start time.  About 30 minutes before start time, we ate 3 blocks of a shot block, drank a good amount of water, then headed to the line.

We got there just in time to see the 12:20 group take off.  The PA announcer went through important announcements (i.e., don’t go through the electroshock obstacle if you have a pacemaker) before having the participants recite the Mudder Pledge.  He played a recording of the national anthem, worked the crowd into a frenzy and then sent them off running down the hill.

What kind of a person signs up for the TM?  I’d say that about 80% of the people who did the Mudder looked pretty fit.  In other words, the kind of people who sign up for the Mudder are the kind of people who are already into fitness, challenges, etc.  I’d say it was about 70% male and 30% female.  The armed forces were well represented, as were MMA gyms and CrossFit boxes.  About 20% of the runners were wearing costumes (there is a costume contest).

The first heat started at 9:00 in the morning, and then they released 500 people every 20 minutes.  Dave and I were in heat 12, so by the time we started, over 5,000 people had been released onto the course.  Getting there early allowed Dave and I to start at the very front of the pack for the 12:40 heat.

The announcer went into his spiel again, but this time it was different.  The atmosphere was electric, and everybody was jumping up and down like warhorses spoiling for a fight.  In this moment of adrenaline, I felt a calm come over me and the most natural thing to do for me was to pray.

I wasn’t praying for safety or anything like that.  I think what I said went something like this:

Thank You for giving me a healthy body and the desire to do something like this, the strength to push myself to the limit.  Now, I want to give the strength back to You.  So for however long this takes, let this be worship.   Amen.

3, 2, 1, go!  And we were off and running down the rocky slope…

(continued in the next post)

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