As I was saying, off we went!
The event was held in Matterly Bowl, just off the South Downs Way near Winchester.
Beautiful ampitheatre that provided the scope for a lot of hills but also some incredible scenery
There were a total of 21 obstacles spread over 11.5 miles, each had its own challenges, some needed strength, some the ability to jump from height and others just sheer stupidity and throwing yourself into inevitable electric shocks…….
Looking back now at the course map, just like my PT sessions, there are already obstacles I don’t remember doing!
First up was Kiss of Mud – leopard crawling under barbed wire through mud – keep your bum down as you go and you were through – easy!
Blades of Glory – not so easy and it was here that our team work started! They were 3 over 6ft high walls of wood but instead of being vertical they were angled towards us. Think you were meant to run, jump catch the top of the wall and leap over, but that wasn’t happening, so the boys gave us a leg up and then we went over and down the other side!
Walk the Plank – this was the start of the obstacles I was dreading – stand on a platform 10m high and jump into the water below…… The solution to my fears was to hold Nikki’s hand and jump. This was also my friend Al’s solution except she asked someone who was essentially a stranger if it was ok, he was more than happy to oblige!
Log Jammin’ – climbing up and under massive log walls, I want to say they were beech trees, but I could have totally made that up. The logs were wet from everyone who had previously climbed over, so you had to use what was left of the bark to grip
Dirty Ballerina – from a distance I thought this was a rubbish obstacle, all I could see were people jumping ballerina-like over a patch of mud – how was that worthy of TM? However on reaching the obstacle it became clear that they were leaping for all they were worth over trenches that we were assured got narrower as we went along – they lied!
Human Gekko – essentially a climbing wall you had to boulder over to cross a trench of water. This is the only obstacle I failed to do. I could get up on the wall but couldn’t make the next step to even be over the water, there were several walls in use at once, I tried 2 and failed on both, but i didn’t want to walk around, so eventually the team (and others) started chanting ‘jump, jump, jump’ so I requested a 1, 2, 3, which everyone was happy to oblige and into the water I jumped
Arctic Enema – an obstacle that we were dreading – jump into a skip filled with ice water, duck under a barrier, out the other side and climb out – simple but when your body hits the water it freezes up, you can’t breath and if you don’t keep moving your muscles will seize up too. Nikki, Al and I held hands and jumped in together, moved forward, did a 1, 2, 3 and ducked, I thought it was literally under and back up, so hit my head, yanking Nikki’s arm, before realising that we had to swim to get through and back up – moment of mild panic shall we say, but then we were through and all that was left was to climb out – I think our faces say it all!
From here on in I loved all the obstacles, although I do wish I could have gone back and done the arctic enema again as it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared and I was cross about hitting my head. Our friend Mhairi had been clever and felt under the water to see how far there was to go under there – she’s a smart cookie
Kiss of Mud – this time we were under tanks – here I employed a technique I’d seen while watching many many TM clips on YouTube. Instead of leopard crawling there was room to lie sideways and just roll through, kind of cheating? But it was fun if slightly dizzy making!
Then it was straight on to
Boa Constrictor – brilliant one for random teamwork. You had to crawl down through a pipe into some mud and then back up through another pipe. This involved being pushed by a helpful Mudder and you yourself pushing the feet of whoever was in front of you and then doing the same to get back up the other side, the angle and slippyness of the pipe meant it was almost impossible to climb back up without slipping backwards. Eventually you saw daylight and a helpful hand waiting to pull you to freedom
Funky Monkey – the one I’d really wanted to be able to do….. Sadly I knew I was unlikely to go beyond the first few rungs of the monkey bars, but these were angled up and then down, and so wet and slippy that only 1 of our team got across and he was wearing gloves…. I managed 2 rungs (admittedly with my feel still on the bank……) and then it was in to the water for me!
Mud Mile – not as muddy as we were led to believe, but it was so warm I think nothing was a muddy as we’d expected. These involved clambering over big banks of mud, sliding down the other side into increasingly muddy ditches, was great fun and we emerged unable to see our trainers any more, just shoes of mud containing little stones
Hold Your Wood – bit boring, maybe as I found it easy, others really struggled – pick up a log of wood and carry it over a little 1/4 mile course through the wood before depositing it back down…….
Fire Walker – I was not prepared for this one – jumping through fire…… I’d picked my course over the lowest bit of the pile of wood only for a man to come along and place another log there to stoke the fire! So new course picked and over I went, either I leapt really high or the flames weren’t that hot as I didn’t feel a thing!
Island Hopping – really fun – series of floating islands you had to jump between, seemingly simple, we got the technique, but didn’t have the balance to get across, was chuffed I managed to get half way before falling in! Did mean that the mud got washed off, so that was a bonus
Trench Warfare – crawl hands and knees through a tunnel – simple! But it did hurt your knees with all the stones…..
Gravel Corner – not actually an obstacle but it is where I randomly fell over! Several of my lovely teammates were right behind me along with those I’d been chatting to as I went down so I was quickly back on my feet. Wasn’t immediately obvious what damage was done – too much mud to see! Not that I looked as I don’t like blood, but it appeared on my elbow as we were running – more team work, someone checked for me!
Remember I said I loved all the obstacles? I was ignoring this one…….
Electric Eel – leopard crawl through water and under spaghetti strings of electric wires – why oh why would anyone do this? Do it we all did and oh my god it hurt – only for a millisecond extreme pain and then it’s gone before it strikes elsewhere…. Finally someone said ‘you’re through’ best words of the day!
Hero Carry – pair up and carry each other – the men seemed to go for a firemans lift, we went for piggy backs! It was tough, but if there is something I can do it’s a mean piggy back!
Hero Walls – 2 high, very high walls. We’d seen these from afar for a long time and finally there they were, up close – thank goodness for the boys on the first one and Nikki and Al on the 2nd and the help of some lovely random men on the top of the wall we all, one way or another got ourselves up and over and safely back down the other sides of them
Cage Crawl – best obstacle of the lot – was easy and so refreshing! Float in a trench of water and pull yourself backwards along the trench using the chicken wire above – very cooling after the long run to get there and just merrily floated along. Even had time to help a man with cramp in his calf……
Then it was a 2.5 mile run, I thought we had at least another obstacle to go before the end, but no, this was it, a loooooong run and then the 2 we’d been waiting for!
We regrouped, chatted to our supporters, bad emergency jelly babies and it was time to attempt….
Everest – a massive 1/4 pipe you had to run up and onto the ledge. The first few boys did it so easily, ran, leapt onto top and cheered. Then some girls went, the boys caught their arms and pulled them up… I was panicking as I was certain I wouldn’t do it as easily as this and didn’t want to be the first to fail……. Thankfully (I know that’s mean) someone did and so the pressure was off….. Nikki did it on her 1st attempt, although it was not graceful, the video is so funny! Al and I then alternated attempts/failures until eventually Al got it on her 3rd attempt. I whacked my already bleeding elbow on my 1st try so was worried about doing it again, so was giving it 3 shots, but by then Joe was refusing to go until I’d made it up, so I promised if he went I’d give it 1 more try and sure enough he got up followed by a very determined me, 4th time lucky!
Another team regroup before the one we’d all been dreading/ignoring/heavily in denial about
Electric Shock Therapy – run through more spaghetti strings of electricity while jumping over muddy trenches to the finish the other side. We went through as a team, which saved any messing around as we went as one, still got shocked quite a few times, but it was over!!!
Over the finish line to have our orange ToughMudder headbands placed on our heads before getting a well earned pint of cider and a fab finishers T shirt
We were all so happy to have made it round, 3:15 was a time we were all pleased with, couldn’t have done it without the help and support of everyone in the team.
Some people we met on the morning of the event, some only the night before, but by the end we were 1 big team where we’d put our lives(?) but certainly our dignity in each others hands!
I got my elbow cleaned up by a lovely man in the first aid tent, he told me there had been a few dislocated shoulders and broken ankles, so I think we got off lightly! Although I think James took the brunt of any potential bad luck cycling home on Friday night
There was great excitement on Friday night when we remembered to buy our bottles of Coke for the post-muddy water detox – and discovered a bottle for Nikki (it said Nicola, but that’s close enough) and for me, no Emma’s but there was a Ross!!!
The girls headed back to the hotel for showers and fizzy and had 2 more fab friends waiting for us there bearing the gift of more fizzy and cupcakes!
The showers removed the dirt but revealed the beginnings of some impressive bruising, some amazing grazes and some sun burn where the lotion we’d applied had obviously been washed away…….
Considering the day we had instead of sensibly getting food and an early night we met the boys and headed for a bar, we stayed out until 3:30…… We think the bar may have stayed open for us, we were the only ones there!!!
Great night had by all, paracetamol were needed the following day and there were more bruises to compare, all rather tired, but proudly displaying our headbands (now mostly on our wrists) we headed home