Tri-state Tough Mudder: Less tough, more mudder

Hiya,

So this past Saturday I ran the Tri-State Tough Mudder in Englishtown, NJ.  This race had been on my calendar since about a week after the Tough Mudder at Beaver Creek in Colorado, and I’d been looking forward to this.  I have to say that having run the half-marathon a few weeks ago took a lot of the trepidation out of this race.  I figured that if I could run 13.1 miles without stopping, 12 miles with stops for obstacles wouldn’t be too bad.  I was also encouraged by the fact that oxygen would actually be present on this sea level course (as opposed to the thin air above 8,200 feet in CO).

Unfortunately, my lovely wife was unable to join me for this race because of an injury, but she did a great job cheering us on.  It was nice to have a fan out there.  I ran it with a bunch of her co-workers, and I think we all had a good time (aside from one sprained knee).  I did learn however that if you have a larger group (we were ten total), you either need to all stick together, or figure out a better way to keep track of everyone.  At one point, as I was helping other mudders up a hill, I’m pretty sure the rest of my team passed me without seeing me.  I blame that on the fact that after the “Mud Mile”, we were all pretty much unrecognizable due to the thick coating of mud.  But we managed to meet back up and stick together for the rest of the race.  I was happy that I made it across the “Twinkle Toes” obstacle, and that I was able to clear the “Berlin Walls”, but I was bummed that I missed on the rings and monkey bars.  I guess there is always the next race.

Overall, I think this course was easier than the CO one.  The biggest factor was probably the flat nature of the NJ track (it was held at a raceway) vs. climbing up a ski mountain.  But also, I feel like the obstacles were easier (ie, not as long/as high).  But the NJ course was without a doubt muddier.  We had about 12 hours of rain the day before, so almost the whole course was nice and sloppy.  I was very happy I was running in my Vibrams, as they seemed to do a nice job of cutting through the mud without getting too mucked down.  I know one member of our team was forced to do some of the obstacles carrying her shoes as they simply got sucked off her feet.  But it did take 4-5 rounds of rinsing my race clothes in buckets to get them clean enough to put in the washing machine.

We had gorgeous weather, a good team, and a great time.  The actual race, while not as good as the previous one, was well done.

That said, I do have some major issues with the way it was run.  Those of us running on Saturday had to park 18 miles from the course, and get bused in.  It took us at least 30 minutes of clutch-burning stop-and-go traffic to get into the parking lot.  If the idea is to avoid excessive congestion by moving the parking off site, then at least do it somewhere where it you actually AVOID excessive congestion.  And quite frankly, there were just too many people on the course.  We waited well over 20 minutes for the rings, and we had waits at almost every obstacle.  The maximum wait we had in Colorado was 2-3 minutes.  And I don’t know if there was just a better general level of fitness in CO, but it seemed there were a lot more people really struggling on the obstacles.  Finally, there seemed to be major confusion in the attempts to bus people back to the parking areas, resulting in significant delays.  It’s great to be coated in mud, waiting for the buses as the sun (and temperatures) drop.  I know that Tough Mudder is a business, and they are looking to turn a profit, but with these issues, either move the event to somewhere that can handle the crowds, or limit the number of participants.

The fun of running the course with friends outweighs the negatives of the event, but I think if we do another one together, I will look to do it at another location.

Happy Muddering!

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Everyday I’m Muddering…

Hi folks,

I know that I have been absent for awhile, but I promise it was for a good reason.  Last weekend, my sister and my wife joined me in the collective insanity that is the Tough Mudder.  It consisted of a 12 mile course up and down the Beaver Creek ski resort in my home state of Colorado.  I finished exhausted, soaking wet, bruised, bleeding and electrocuted.  And almost immediatley I signed up to do another one.  It was a blast!

Now if you’ve been around the internet and looked at anything remotely related to fitness, I’m sure you have come across some link to a Spartan Race, or Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder.  Generally it involves running on trails for a specified distance while completing lots of various obstacles.  I won’t got through the full desciption of all of them, as yu can find that information online yourselves, but I do encourage you to take a look, then sign up with a bunch of friends and do one.  It was completely unlike any other event I’ve taken part in.

I think the biggest difference is just the general attitude of the Tough Mudder.  Sort of like golf (although a hell of a lot more interesting), it’s more about you vs. the course than you vs. the other folks there.  In fact, most everyone I saw was helping eachother out: either helping you climb up a wall of ice or pushing you to keep running.  And for some of those obstacles, you need that help.

I would definitely recommend training for the event.  The 12 mile distance alone is something to consider.  But it’s not like you need to devote every waking moment to it.  Get out running, and throw in some good ol’ fashioned calisthenics and you’ll be fine.  I do recommend heading to a park and swinging on the monkey bars.  Not only is that an obstacle on most of the courses, but it will prep you for the total body coordination that you’ll need for a lot of the obstacles.

So grab your friends and go have a great time while supporting the Wounded Warrior Project.  You’ll see people completing the course on prosthetics, and personally, I find that motivating as hell.  If they can do it, what’s your excuse?