2014-06-10

Tough Mudder Mt Snow 2014

It's been just over a week since Tough Mudder on Mt Snow and I feel like I'm still processing.   Part of me wants to go back right now.  Mudder was my second OCR (obstacle course race), but a much different experience than my first (last fall we did the Spartan Beast on Killington in VT, my friend and teammate Jen wrote a great post about that here)

This year Tough Mudder New England was 10-ish miles on Mt Snow, snaking all over the mountain with 16(ish?) obstacles to overcome along the way, +3 new obstacles for the Mudder Legion only (those who have completed at least one Mudder prior to showing up to this year's event).

Team That's What She Said (minus Rich, our kick ass photographer)

From the moment we walked up to the start line what really struck me about this race was the team atmosphere. At the Starting line were many groups with matching shirts, buzzing with excitement at the challenge ahead.  Throughout the course you could hear teams cheering their team members on as they got themselves over walls and monkey bars.  The energy was positive and light and it was clear that this was a challenge to get everyone through, over, and across the finish line.


The Obstacles


Kiss of Mud - from what I've seen and read this is an OCR staple, crawl under barbwire through the mud.  I was honestly a little disappointed in this one, after hearing stories of people being blasted with fire hoses at last years event, this crawl was far more tame than I thought it would be.  The wire was low, lots of hydration packs and hats were being snagged, and you were forced to crawl uphill, but the ground was almost completely dry and the crawl surprisingly shorter than expected.  It wasn't bad, but no where near as difficult as I expected.


Glory Blades -  a series of slanted 8 foot walls, strong teammates definitely come in handy at this one - it definitely helps to get a hand to get over these.



Funky Monkey - the infamous TM monkey bars over water, this was one obstacle I was looking forward to, and one I knew I could do as long as I didn't let nerves get to me.  This year the monkey bars were constructed from two 8-10 foot metal ladder-like sections set at an angle to each other so that you start going up an incline and then down the decline to finish.  I definitely let my over confidence get the better of my on the latter half, descending too quickly I almost lost my grip as my body started to swing too much, I lost momentum when I had to stop to control myself, but fortunately managed to make it to the end.  It was great to hear and see teams cheering each other on as they watched their teammates, it was just as exciting to watch everyone as it was to do the obstacle.


Devils Beard - a long heavy fishing net that you have to walk under.  Another great place to have a big team, although when you are short your contribution is minimal.


Mudder Section - a walk through the mud, some downhill and some really slippery, but not an incredibly difficult challenge.


Arctic Enema - When I thought about Mudder, when I planned and trained and maybe even stressed a little, this was one of the two obstacles that truly scared me.  A plunge into muddy ice water, no option but to completely submerse yourself to get under the wooded wall/board in the middle.  I don't swim, not well anyway, water stresses me out, and I am not one to typically enjoy being cold, at all.  I was a bundle of nerves approaching - having to wait 15 minutes or so before we could even jump didn't help matters.  This was both a low and a high point for me.  Despite my fears I jumped in, my head went under, but I was not able to get under that board I came up short, the cold stole my breath, and I panicked.  I heard my teammates yell at the staff to get me out, and they plucked me from the water.  It felt like an eternity, watching Jimmy Ray's GoPro video it was really mere seconds, but now I understand how in panic someone can drown in water that is not over their heads (no I was no where near drowning, I was standing up, the water about chest level, but the panic and cold made me irrational).  I was ashamed, embarrassed and defeated as I walked around the obstacle, and then I was reminded why my team kicked ass - as I was congratulated for trying and hugged and encouraged by my teammates ("Funny story, you went in"), I was no less shaky, but proud of my effort and happy to have such amazing people to run with.

The best pictures of the day came from the enema!!


The Plank -  This was the other obstacle that terrified me, and the only obstacle I completely opted out of.  At this point I was still shaking from the enema and in no way ready to jump 15 feet into water 12 feet deep.  I will say I was impressed by the construction and organization at this obstacle.  There were plenty of rescue divers and crew all around to ensure that every single person got out of the water safely. 



Quagmire - another mud obstacle, in over and through mounds of dirt, surrounded by water and mud.  


Balls to the Wall - a 12 foot wall with a knotted rope to assist on the ascend.  I loved this one!!  I can honestly say I have been training for this very obstacle!! (Thank you Janine and Kevin at Unleashed!!!)  I felt great getting up the wall, although I have to admit getting over was a bit nerve wracking and a little harder than I anticipated, the fear of falling definitely played a role here!!



Berlin Walls - A series of 2 (3 maybe?  can't remember....) 10(-ish) foot walls.  Another great place to have some strong dudes on your team!!


Lumber Jacked - a series of three large logs, 5 feet off the ground, to get up and over.  

Oddly I have no pictures of this obstacle, but more importantly I do have a picture of Smokey the Bear who was there to cheer us on!!

Pole Dancer - The teasers for this obstacle promised a water drop and an adrenaline filled crossing, in reality, most of us could have easily walked through this obstacle with little effort.  (I tired to arm walk across the parallel bars, but my arms were spent and refused to support my weight)

Pete and Jimmy made it look easy

Pyramid Scheme - this was the ultimate team challenge.  A tall wet slippery wall set at an angle, the only way to get up the wall was to build a pyramid or ladder out of your teammates.  I wish I had pictures of my team on this one, we owned it.  Our incredibly strong guys held each one of us up as we scaled the wall one at a time, then formed a human chain from the top down to get each of guys who made up the ladder up the wall at the end.  

Pit Fall - in out over through, mud, dirt water, no big deal.

Warrior Carry  - carry your teammate, half way through switch it up and they carry you.....all down hill.  We got creative on this one :)



Electric Shock Therapy - The final obstacle and another Mudder staple, definitely added for the fear factor, stories of people being knocked down, and even knocked out circulate after each race ("my cousin's friends mother knew someone who was knocked out by the shock...")  People definitely went down, and the shock was no joke, but we all survived. (another great obstacle for photos!!)

That was it, a short hike to the finish, handed our headbands and beers, and we were done!!

Total it took us 6 1/2 hours to complete, but it was not a grueling 6 1/2 hours, but a fun day out with great people.  I can't get over how much we laughed and how much we conquered.  A few of us had very specific goals in mind (the monkey bars, the walls, crossing the finish line) and every single person contributed in some way to the team. 



Over all I absolutely loved this race and will do it again in a heartbeat - I know many of my teammates feel the same way about it (as many of us already bought our passes for next year!!)