Face Your Fears at Tough Mudder

Woman shares what it’s like to run Tough Mudder for the first time.

Three years ago I witnessed my first Tough Mudder event, as a volunteer for the Mansfield/Richland County Convention & Visitors Bureau at Tough Mudder Ohio in Mansfield.  I didn’t know what to expect, except from stories I’d heard.  Thinking “there’s no way I could do this. I’m fit, but not that fit!”

The moment I walked onto the base camp, I could feel the energy, anticipation and excitement of mudders getting ready to run 10 miles and tackle 20+ military obstacles.  Still thinking “I’d never be able to finish Tough Mudder.”

Participants duct taped their shoes, devoured energy bars, wrote tag numbers on foreheads of their teammates with a Sharpie, stretched and laughed as they took group pictures in their team shirts or costumes.

Wanting to see a few obstacles for myself, I stood along the sidelines cheering mudders as they climbed up wooden obstacles, crawled over mounds and pits of mud, jumped off platforms into ice water, crawled under barbed wire and braved the electro shock at the very end of the course.  No matter where I stood on the course, the teamwork and camaraderie was apparent.  You’re not there to do this alone.  You’re there to help your fellow mudders finish the course.  That’s when I knew I could conquer Tough Mudder in 2014.

Training started 8 months before Tough Mudder and involved weights, running,  and flipping tractor tires on a nearby farmer’s land.  My brother and sister-in-law were my teammates who have a 50k and a Ragnar Race under their belts.   It was surreal as I walked into the base camp as a participant thinking of how I felt a year before.  I was excited and nervous as I duct taped my shoes and took a Sharpie to my forehead.  It was time to head to the corral for the first wave of runners as the announcer prepped us for what was about to happen out on the course.  As the whistle blew and the first 500 runners took off, I remember looking behind me and thinking “I better not fall or I’ll be trampled.” 

Hitting the first mud obstacle was a gross feeling and now my shoes are covered in mud.   The second obstacle was the Kiss of Mud where we crawled through slippery mud with barbed wire just inches above us.  Other mudders coached us through and pulled us out of the mud.  We were full-on covered in mud!  Bring on the next obstacle!  I won’t kid you, I really had to face my fears climbing 10’ high walls, crawling underground in the darkness and wanting to just rest after running for hours.  And it was around 40 degrees and rainy.

I could see the finish line and hear the crowds cheering.  There was one last obstacle to conquer- the Electro Shock Therapy!   As we walked up to it, we locked arms and began to run through.  Down we went…face first in the mud.  We pulled each other up and ran to the finish with a newfound burst of energy! At this point, there is not a part of your body not covered in mud.

We were crowned with the official Tough Mudder orange head band.  Tears of exhaustion and joy began to flow after accomplishing such a challenge.  I remember feeling proud, not only of myself, but my fellow mudders who maybe had the same fears as I did.

My advice is do it!  Sign up and feel honored knowing you are supporting the Wounded Warrior Project and stepping out of your comfort zone.  As the hours countdown to my second Tough Mudder this weekend at the famous Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, sure I’m nervous, but I’m looking forward to earning my second headband and conquering  “probably the toughest event on the planet”!