Tough Mudder: Las Vegas 2012

Race Name: Tough Mudder Las Vegas 2012

Date: October 6, 2012

Location: Beatty, NV

Team Members: Rob, Ryan, Scott, Amy, Jed, Valarie, Ron, Jonathan, Tom, Erik

Footwear: Vibram Spyridon LS (Rob), Vibram Spyridon (Ryan), New Balance 110 (Scott)

Tough Mudder is by far our favorite event to date. It’s a perfect mix of tough running and challenging obstacles, plus we got to play in the mud. This race being two hours from home made it close enough to be considered our home course, which gave us a little extra motivation to make it a good race. We were able to double the size of our team from Tough Mudder SoCal and had many more spectators at this event than we did in Temecula. Having an audience of family and friends makes any race, especially tough races like this, better. When you’re eight miles into a race like Tough Mudder, beat up and tired, it completely revamps you when you see your family and friends on the horizon and can hear them cheering you on, or laughing as you nosedive into the mud.

What sets Tough Mudder apart from most other races is the emphasis on camaraderie and enjoying the challenge. Whether it’s pushing you to run hill after hill through sandy terrain, or conquering dire fears of ice-cold water, heights, or an electric shock, you’re teammates and fellow competitors are there to help and motivate you along the way. Teamwork is emphasized the second you climb over the wall into the starting corral (an heart-pumping and awesome way to start a race) and the MC begins delivering his pep talk explaining that Tough Mudder is a team event, not a race, and you’re goal is to help the person next to you finish. The Tough Mudder pledge recited just before the race starts says it perfectly. Tough Mudder is all about having a fantastic time with a group of other crazy people (like us) while testing your limits mentally and physically. I can speak for all of us Crazies when I say that the feeling you get after finishing a Tough Mudder event is unlike any other event, because it’s challenging but you have a fantastic time others, instead of competing by yourself like most races.

The Race

The race began with us climbing up and over a wooden wall into the starting corral to join all the other participants. We then waited there while the MC got us hyped for the race by having us recite Tough Mudder’s pledge, listen to our National Anthem, and by having us jump around and shout until he was satisfied that we were ready to begin the race. We have never done another race that puts so much emphasis on the start of the event. Right from the beginning we felt the adrenaline rushing through our bodies as the anticipation built up thinking about the excitement to come. As the MC released us to begin the race we left the enclosed corral, which was surrounded by fans and spectators, as a mob of runners took off letting out battle cries racing off into the distance.

We began the race by running a short distance to our first obstacle, scrambling across the desert on trails, passing as many people as possible. Although, it was a challenge not to lose any teammates in the mayhem, or to run any other Mudders over as we all raced to our first obstacle. The first obstacle we arrived at was called Kiss of Mud. We crawled through muddy water under barbed wire for about 20 feet or so, trying not to dip our faces in the mud, just  inches from the barbed wire hanging above. As we arrived at the obstacle we waited for the entire team to arrive, then, like madmen and women, we raced through the obstacle as fast as possible regrouping on the other side before beginning our mad dash towards the next obstacle. We made it a point to go through obstacles as an entire team and not leave anyone behind. It was much more fun and nobody felt left out. Besides, why wouldn’t we want to be there to watch every slip and fall our teammates made. After Kiss of Mud we ran a short distance to Cliffhanger (a 40 foot mud hill) followed by Trench Warfare (a narrow muddy water filled tunnel). Cliffhanger was the first opportunity I had to test my Vibram Spyridons, as this was the first race I had done in them, and they performed beautifully. The traction they had on the slick mud was unbelievable.

The next obstacle was Arctic Enema, a dumpster of ice-watery hell. Leading up to the race our team was more terrified to jump into this pool of ice (surrounded by a minimal amount of water) than any other obstacle in the race. Rob and I can take credit for instilling this fear into everyone on our team prior to the event. Arctic Enema will give you nightmares. Scott told me that he was so nervous for Arctic Enema that he spent long hour prior to the race debating whether or not he should just skip this obstacle to preserve his manhood. When you jump into the icy water the air is instantly sucked out of your lungs. So this time Rob and I decided to cannonball in instead and get the shock over with all at once. Once in the water we had to swim underneath a wood plank through the ice water to the other side of the container. This may have been the longest ten seconds of my life. We exited the water letting out an agonizing shout as we tip-toed to the edge of the container like a ballerina running from boiling lava. You could see the pain on our faces as we stood silently hunched over after launching ourselves out of the water. It felt like somebody repeatedly punched me in the head and kicked me in the groin at the same time. It wasn’t the best feeling. Adrenaline was the only thing that got us through it, including Scott.

After recovering from Arctic Enema we began one of the longer running portions of the race. The running portions of the race were littered with hills and sandy terrain, which immediately drained our legs. On the running parts of the race we passed a lot of other Mudders.  For the most part we did a good job staying fairly close together while running. Albeit, a couple of us would race ahead occasionally when the competitive juices in us would begin to flow. We all conquered hill after hill, mud hole after mud hole, next climbing the first set of Berlin Walls, then dipped into some refreshingly cold water in the Underwater Tunnels obstacle. Next up, was Walk the Plank, a wide-spread favorite of race participants, except for those who were scared of heights. For those who weren’t bothered by the freezing cold water of Arctic Enema Walk the Plank gave them a decent height to be concerned about.  It didn’t matter that it was 15+ feet tall for some. It might as well have been 30+ feet high from the platform to the water waiting below. Most of us have a lot of fun with this obstacle, which remained true this time around, except for one member of our team, who will not be named, ahem Valarie. This person will get a chance to redeem themselves at our next event. This person absolutely refused to jump off the platform even with motivation and encouragement from their teammates. Instead of jumping they had to make the shameful climb back down the wall on the opposite side of the platform and run around the pool of water to join the rest of the team. They won’t live is down until they make the jump the next time. Scott mentioned that the heights made him nervous at first, but it wasn’t a problem once up on top of Walk the Plank. He didn’t hesitate, and gladly jumped into the cloudy water below with the rest of us, GoPro and all.

Prior to the race the next obstacle was the one that we had built up the most anticipation for. It was cleverly named Dong Dangler. The name raised a few eyebrows around the group. We were curiously concerned as to what sort of obstacle could possibly justify acquiring this name. To our surprise, instead of being met with the opportunity to hover over some ungodly pit filled with our worst nightmares (more ice, snakes, hot coals, snapping turtles, electricity, you name it) Dong Dangler was simply a thin line hanging a few feet above the water you had to pull yourself across while hanging upside-down by your hands and feet. The best thing about this obstacle was that it was the first obstacle requiring almost all upper-body strength; however, the excitement was short-lived. It didn’t take long to catch the person in front ahead of you. After a few kicks to the head by the person in front of us we again regrouped and began another longer running portion of the course, conquering a few more obstacles along the way, until we arrived at an obstacle called Funky Monkey (monkey bars that rise up towards the middle then angle back down for about 20 feet). Then we were onto Electric Eel, a favorite of Rob’s. He had a little anxiety leading up to this challenge. We army-crawled through muddy water with barbed wire suspended a couple feet above our heads, similar to Kiss the Mud, but on Electric Eel there were live wires hanging from the barbed wire waiting to give us a jolt if we happened to bump into them and send us bouncing down off the ground. Electric Eel turned out to be uneventful. Aside from feeling a little prick from the electricity there wasn’t anywhere near as strong of a shock as there was at the SoCal event we did earlier this year.

Dirty Ballerina was our next destination a short distance from the terrifying Electric Eel. This one is a personal favorite of mine because it gives me a chance to show of my athleticism. Dirty Ballerina consists of extremely muddy hills separated by 3-4 foot gaps of muddy water. The mud mounds ranged six inches to a couple feet in length, and were as slippery as walking across freshly mopped tile floor. We all made it across eventually with a few minor scrapes. Those who fell in the mud were graciously coated with a fresh layer of thick funky smelling mud. This is where we took one of our best team photos of the day. Something I do have to say real quick about this race is that there was plenty of good thick mud. Aside from the planted obstacle there were numerous mud pools that we had to wade through. I’ll admit some of them smelled a little funky, but it was nice and thick and it stuck.

We were no at the homestretch, all of the obstacles didn’t have much distance between them. Our next task was Boa Constrictor. If you’re claustrophobic this is the obstacle for you. You crawl through plumbing tubes into a pool of water with barbed wire over head, then back into the tubing. The worst part about Boa Constrictor is that it tears up and bruises your knees. The height of the tubes was enough to fully crawl on your hands and knees, and they weren’t wide enough to army crawl. You almost have to do the worm down the tube and flop into the water. The next two obstacles were the two that I saw the most people fall on. Hanging Tough requires using your momentum to swing from ring to ring from one platform over a pool of green water to another platform. After Hanging Tough was Human Gecko. This obstacle was new and just about impossible. I believe they changed it for those participating on Sunday because nobody could do it on Sat. There were various rock climbing handholds and footholds that dissipated as you moved horizontally along the wall until there was nowhere to go, except into the water below.

At this point we were where our family and friends could now watch every obstacle we took on. They watched as we jumped and rolled through the Mud Mile. This was where I collected some mud on my teeth because I decided to flip over and roll down on the the hills of mud. The mud here was awesome and dirty, and us struggling to walk. After climbing out of the mud it was now time for Mount Everest; my favorite obstacle, and the obstacle that seemed to intimidate more people than any other. Mount Everest was a 15-foot quarter pipe that you were required to run to the top of and climb over. The only problem was that it’s wet and muddy. Oh, and it’s 15 feet tall. I sprinted up with ease then laid down at the top of the ramp to pull others up. A number of people on our team were able to make it all the way up with no help. The last obstacle is Electroshock Therapy. The obstacle that gets the most hype when it comes to Tough Mudder. The only problem this time was that it wasn’t working.

We ran across the finish line as team hands in the air overjoyed to have finally made it, as a team. It was now time to receive those coveted orange headbands. The pinnacle of completing a Tough Mudder event. The headband instead of a medal is another characteristic that separated Tough Mudder from other races and events. The race was finally complete, after a grueling 11 mile run and 20+ obstacles later. We were covered in mud, scraped up and sore, and ready for a cold shower and dry clothes.

The Organization

The organization of all of the Tough Mudder events is top notch. From registering, to helping you prepare for the race, giving you workouts to do and telling you what gear you’ll need and making sure you’re ready come race day, to having the event set up perfectly. For how many participants they have parking isn’t bad. Registration is fluent and everything you need to prepare for the race is available. The set up and functioning of the race itself was flawless. There was more than enough water stations, some having snacks, and the first aid crew were always a short distance away. The race flowed smoothly from beginning to end and the obstacles were high quality and a lot of fun. After the race there were a whole posse of staff giving you your headband and shirt, making sure you had water and giving you food. For those who wanted it they gave out beer tickets. The event had extracurricular activities for after, such a band playing. They always provide showers that are freezing cold but welcomed, and changing tents. I have been happy with the organization of both Tough Mudder events we’ve participated in.

Equipment

My equipment of choice was a pair of Vibram Spyridons, which had phenomenal traction in the mud and on the obstacles, orange baseball gloves, which provide a lot grip and protection, and a pair of orange running shorts to match our team. Rob, Jonathon, and myself all wore temporary tattoos with our team name on them for the entire race. Oh, and I wore my orange shades like always.

My Conclusion

I loved this race. It is the most fun I’ve had at a race so far. From the people, to the setup, to the course itself, I liked everything about this race. I cannot wait for our next one. We plan to grow our team for each Tough Mudder event we participate in so everyone else can have a blast getting dirty and beat up like we did.

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