Sweat, mud and 10,000 volts: Tough Mudder

Hundreds of wires were hanging in front of me over the next ten metres, all wrapped in a plastic insulator except for the lower tips. Each wire was charged with 10,000 volts. Although the area was incredibly muddy, Jack and I saw a way to sneak through the wires without getting hit, and both of us were doing quite well. But alas, I was halfway when someone decided to kamikaze his way through and all the wires moved. Getting hit by 10,000 volts is a strange experience. I felt the electric current going through my right leg, but couldn’t pinpoint the exact spot where I was hit. I was hoping I’d give out a manly grunt, but instead yelled like a girl. To be fair, even the muscled dude with the Viking beard  screamed. And the guy that got hit on his bum. That was the worst scream. We all laughed with that one, though.

The electric wires were the final obstacle in Tough Mudder, a race of 12 miles (about 19 km) filled with obstacles designed by the British special forces to test your physical and mental grit. We were a team of three: Jack, Raymund and I, and we were all very excited, although slightly anxious about running this half marathon with obstacles. At the start, there was a little group warm-up, along with some shouting and motivational talk. Tough Mudder puts much emphasis on helping each other out during the course, as we are all in it together, so we stuck together for the entire course.

The race started with our wave of about 100 participants charging through orange smoke at 13:40, all still reasonably clean and motivated. The three of us quickly realised Tough Mudder lives up to its name. It sure is tough, and there is a lot of mud. The first three miles or so were easy and fun. We had to crawl under barbed wire and had to run up and down muddy hills. Then we met the Arctic Enema, an obstacle where we had to fully submerge ourselves in water of 0°C. It was such a sudden shock for my body that I think I never quite recovered from it. For the rest of the course, I showed symptoms of hypothermia: shivering, near-cramps and just being incredibly cold. It didn’t help that the weather went from sunny to rainy at mile 6 or so. The obstacles came every half mile, and I dreaded those with water. The worst one for me was definitely the Plank, where we had to climb up five metres, only to jump down four metres into ice cold water again. Other obstacles were carrying a heavy wooden log up to a hill and down again, crawling through trenches, sliding through a narrow tube with water in the middle, running over haystacks, swimming through water on your back with a fence laid horizontally right above your head (that one was bad as well), and many more.

Between the obstacles, it was always hilly and muddy, and seeing people slip was a common sight. Eventually, we stopped jogging and started walking because we were too tired and because it was becoming increasingly difficult to run in the mud. We finished the race at 18:00, a good four hours after we started. Limping, shivering and caked in thick layers of mud, I was vigorously reminded how good it felt to be pushed beyond your comfort zone.

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