Back in August I signed up for Tough Mudder, primarily because my friend Aisling had but also because I was curious to test my own level of "toughness". I've said before how I love Bootcamp (post here) and love the feeling of being able to do things that I couldn't do before, be it running around the building carrying a wall ball or pulling a heavy sleigh up and down the room. I love the variety each Bootcamp brings, we could be sprinting or skipping, kettlebelling or Russian twisting. Anyway, it was that curiosity that brought me to the start line of Tough Mudder last weekend. (Well, it was actually Reaney's Bus that brought me to the start line but you know what I mean!)
Myself and Aisling were up at 4:30am and at the Galway Cathedral at 5:30am for the bus journey to Punchestown Racecourse. We arrived shortly after 8am where we had time to grab a quick bite to eat and have a coffee. My scheduled start time was not until 11am while Aisling was due to start at 9am however there didn't seem to be anyone guarding the start line so after we picked up our race bibs, checked in our bags and painted our faces - myself and Aisling were ready to kick some ass!
Pre Tough Mudder selfie - Fresh off the bus!
The start line holding pen was filled with a huge gang from Pat Divilly Fitness in Galway who were doing it for Cystic Fibrosis. The picture below is like a Where's Wally but you can spot me - I'm one of the only ones NOT in Orange (awkward!). The PA done a great job riling everyone up and getting the adrenaline pumping for the course which lay before us. I had no proper idea of what to expect. Shortly after 9am the horn sounded and we were off!
Start Line Holding Pen
Pretty soon it became apparent how this was going to work, people ran in groups. There was a great sense of camaraderie as we made our way through the first few obstacles (big ground holes, high fences, wading through a lake). As Aisling was the only other person I knew there, we stuck together. I boosted her up over one wall, she'd wait for someone to have boosted me over on the far side.
The first obstacle that made me pause for a second was the Arctic Enema - a skip full of ice and water with a bar of tyres across the middle. The only way to the other side was by going under, so off I took. It was freezing, and I was so relieved to come out the other side only I was missing Aisling. She was still on the far side. When the marshal told her she was the first girl today to hit that obstacle, I could see the fire flicker in her eyes as she dived under and popped out beside me.
After that we hit a few more obstacles like the mud crawl and a rope wall. We passed through each obstacle without much effort. It was great to chat with other runners as they passed us as they competition element was stripped from the event, everyone was more than happy to run alongside and talk to you about how they found the previous obstacle or if they knew what was coming up. We seemed to be running a lot without much in the way of a challenge.
It wasn't until we got back into the grounds of the racecourse (around Mile 8) that the obstacles seemed to come at us properly. The Mud Mile was great craic - a series of high mud mounds that you had to cling to in order to get over. We were running with three others at this point so there was great banter and help at each mound of mud. The hanging monkey bars were the only obstacle I didn't finish, as in, I fell from the second rung into the water and wasn't going back to try again. We ran up and down like the aisles of a supermarket until we got to the Cage Crawl - the obstacle that reminded me that I am a bit claustrophic.
We passed outside the starting point so knew we had to have been close to the finish line and knew the Electric Shocks and Everest (high ramp) were still waiting for us. Everest was tough, a slippy tall ramp. I fell on my face first attempt but thanks to the guys at the top, they caught me second time round and pulled me up off the ramp. We hung around and helped the few behind us. One of the marshals informed us that at this point Aisling was the 4th girl to reach this point, and the Finish was just around the corner.
We took off with Chris (who we had spent most of the run with) and got to the last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy. Heads down, we just ran through while the shocks popped off us. The three of us crossed the finish line together. We were given our coveted Tough Mudder headbands and a beer as a reward for completing!
We hosed off and got changed back into our warm clothes and we enjoyed the atmosphere watching others come across the finish line. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. Would I do it again? Meh - Don't know! If the challenge of competing was to test my "toughness" and I didn't find it that tough then I don't know what that says about me, the course or my expectations. Aisling was the 4th girl to cross the finish line - I'd like to think thats because we are bad-ass but feel it may have more to do with the fact we couldn't take the run out of the event. We barely walked once during the event, so finishing it within the 2 hour mark was pretty impressive.
On reflection, the hardest part of Tough Mudder was definitely getting up for the 5:30am bus. The second hardest part was spending over 5 hours on the bus to/from the venue. The best part of Tough Mudder was realising how kick-ass myself and Aisling really are! Now... back to Bootcamp!