A Tough Mudder For All Seasonsâ€¦
As I sit on my sofa writing this blog, I cannot help but feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, pride and unrelenting muscle soreness. With every shift of my weight, change of posture or even the odd sneeze, I get a painful reminder of what myself and twelve of my fellow teammates endured yesterday as we collectively tackled the punishing and limit-pushing TOUGH MUDDER CHALLENGE.
On the morning of the challenge, it was impossible to contain a mixture of anxiety and excitement of the unknown for what we were about to encounter. Reminiscing on the previous 8 weeks leading up to this event, fond memories flooded my mind of intense group training sessions; the buzz of growing camaraderie and unconditional support from fellow staff and members at KX; and the warm feeling of goodwill for raising money in aid of a great charity ‘Help The Heroes’.
Saturday 8am: the amazing team of Anthony, Jayne, Sam, Lotta, Dave, Anna-Maria, Carlos, Alice, Gavin, Jonny, Marek and Graziella along with our head of support and cheer section Captain James, and myself, gathered together to share an early morning special KX breakfast before making the 2 hour trek to NorthHamptonshire.
After 90 minutes on the bus, the atmosphere was electric as everyone’s Java Stim or nervous energy were starting to kick in… or was it just me stressing out that our driver took a wrong turn to potentially make us late for our start time or were people just needing a pit stop to relieve their swollen bladders?! Most likely a bit of both but probably more me!
Arriving onto the Estate and witnessing 3 of 22 of the actual obstacles and not the YouTube versions, the gravity of what we were about to embark on became suddenly too real. With a dramatic pause upon signing my Death Waiver at registration, a thought popped into my head asking “what the Hell have I gotten myself into?” as I took note of earlier finishers who were violently shivering, bloodied, hobbling and had mud covering every aspect of their battered bodies. Then I thought, as a child, I loved playing in the mud and on the monkey bars. As an adult, I love all kinds of physical challenges and I knew I had the best team anyone could ask for to help me get around this course! So with almost a sense of pure defiance, I confidently signed and handed in my waiver and laughed in the face of the oncoming pain!
Saturday 12pm: With last minute pit stops and adjustments to our outfits, we were ushered into the start holding area. Getting our bodies psyched up with a 10 minute “American-Style” bravado warm up accompanied with military cattle-yells, we were ready to get the party started.
Then she happened…Mother Nature. Playing the joker, she took it upon herself to make the day even more of a challenge. Not to say that the 11.5-mile course with 22 obstacles wasn’t enough! We knew the weather would be a factor and were resigned to coping with 10 degrees and partly cloudy. However, Mother Nature had other plans. During the warm up, she gave us a hard rain shower that then turned into a heavy hailstorm as we approached the first obstacle, which ironically involved a railcar container filled with ice and water! Our meteorological prankster then decided to crank up the wind with more rain as we hit miles 2 and 3. However, our environmental matriarch is not without heart or compassion. When we really needed her loving arms wrapped around us, she cut the wind (not what you’re thinking!) and shone her glowing smile down upon us. From this point on, we were rejuvenated and were about to press on and finish this task with strength and conviction!
As a team, we did everything possible to physically prepare for this challenge. Fellow trainers donated their free time to beast us and get us course ready. Looking back, I think they might have taken too much pleasure in it but it all paid off in the end. As an individual, mental preparation was a priority as this course would test and exploit our fears and weaknesses. However, knowing that there were 12 others ready to pick you up, carry you, help you over an obstacle or jump with you off a plank, aided in gaining the mental toughness necessary for success.
Saturday 3:21pm: In the end, we managed to complete the course in less than 3 hours and 30 minutes. We tackled every obstacle as a team and proved to each other that there was nothing we couldn’t achieve together! As we proudly wore our newly earned orange headbands as shiny crowns of our achievement, we discovered that we could be strong under harsh conditions and even stronger when a teammate was weak. As a result of our labours, we happily raised over £2000 for our chosen charity Help The Heroes.
On a personal note, I am very proud and honoured to have been able to share this journey with 12 other exceptional individuals who showed their true teammate spirit and never say quit attitude to make this challenge a pure delight and a success!
WELL DONE TEAM KX! HOO RAH!
MY 5 FAVORITE OBSTACLES
1. ARCTIC ENEMA – Not an actual enema but just as bad! This involves a railcar container filled with ice and water. As you climb onto the lip of the container, you have to jump into it and then duck under a dividing beam that is adorned with barbed wire on top of it and then pull yourself out on the other side. Once the paralysing shock wears off (give or take 10-20 seconds) you are alert and ready to go tackle the next obstacle.
2. ISLAND HOPPING – I’m not talking Hawaii either. This is a series of 6 floating squares that have a tendency to tip over if one fails to land squarely or evenly upon them. You must channel your inner frog or be daring and try and run the gauntlet without falling into the water.
3. DIRTY BALLERINA – No not a dancer with a truck driver’s mouth! This involves a series of deep and wide troughs that you have to jump without sliding into the next one upon landing. Some misfires on this one can be quite comical!
4. MUD MILE – This brings out your inner child knowing you can play in the mud without getting in trouble for it! This is a series of built up mounds of mud and a variety of troughs of varied depths. You never know if you will be knee or shoulder deep in it!
5. EVEREST – This half-pipe monster wall is obstacle #21 of 22. Your energy is spent, legs are on fire from running in mud for 11 miles. You have to scale up this massively curved wall and launch yourself into the hands of those waiting on top to help you up. If your start up is too slow, you will fail to reach the wanting hands and smack yourself against the wall like a bug on a windscreen of a car! If you get your speed right and launch yourself into the right pair of hands, you will get hauled up and then be able to return the favour to the next contender.
AND ONE LAST THING…
I could not possibly end this blog without any mentions of the 2 obstacles that involved 10,000 volts of electricity. Having been strategically placed in the middle and at the end of the course respectively, the anticipation of being literally shocked definitely raced through my mind and of those of my teammates. Pre-race strategies suggested an array of options:
• A team favourite was to use Carlos as a human shield but then we thought NO, he’s too heavy with a bummed foot and we’d get zapped even worse!
• Run as fast as you can with your mouth closed and hands up and take your chances.
• Try and weave around them which proved futile seeing as they are staggered and close together to ensure you get zapped a minimum of 8-10 times
I have to admit that the sensation is hard to explain and I think we all had a brief black out at one point!
If you are an adventure junkie or enjoy physical challenges, or just like playing in the mud and need an excuse, I highly endorse trying a Tough Mudder Challenge.
Pete Geracimo – Tough Mudder Graduate