I was already cold enough, soak and wet, running outside on a 50 degree F day in 10-20 mile per hour winds. There it was, the next challenge; It was a 30 foot long bath tub about filled with about 4 feet of water. The goal is to climb up about 6 foot ramp, jump in, swim under water through a couple passage ways and get out. The only catch was you were already sore, freezing cold and the tub of water was full of 33 degree water full of ice cubes. If you ever swam in ice before you know what this is like. The second your entire body is in it instantly restricts squeezing what you thought was life right out of you as if you were out of air, you try and take a breath and it just doesn’t work at first. All better? good, now its time to get your hair wet and swim underwater through the passage ways, yes through the ice cubes and water. Then get out and start running. It was great! the best ever. It was one of 24 challenges in a 10 mile running event called the ToughMudder. Don’t worry there is fire later on to warm you up.
Depending on who you are, “ToughMudder” could mean many different things. It could be slang for truck, really strong brick layer, or maybe drunken Irish fighter. The point is you either are well aware of what it is or it is a foreign. If you are not aware of the event and under the age of dead, and have at least arms or legs, and have friends, and want to feel alive, you need to read on. I say at least arms OR legs because some have completed this event with prosthetic legs and two biological arms. I witnessed a 65 year old women complete the challenge, a farmer in overalls and work boots, even a guy with a full size blow up doll. The point is you can do it regardless of how difficult it appears or challenges you personally have. Of coarse there are some challenges in the event you should not do depending on your health, like the electric shock therapy challenge which is a 30 foot obstacle with hundreds of 8 foot dangling 10,000 volt wires you run through. Yes if you have a bad heart you skip this one.
So you might be asking, why after hearing these stories would someone want to pay to go to an event that during college this would be a hazing incident or initiation to a frat, or maybe even a lost bet? Two words, Orange headband. Once you cross the finish line you receive a orange head band which represents completing the challenge. Completing the challenge may mean that if it is possible you can do it. For some completion confirms your will to live, as it did for me at my second ToughMudder. The challenge was called “Walk the Plank” and was a 20 foot plank that drops into the freezing cold water about 20 feet deep. My body froze up when I hit the water, I couldn’t breath, and had to swim about 40 yards to shore. For a second I though I was not going to make it seems how I could not breath, my were heavy, I seemed to have forgotten how to swim and was slowly sinking. I kept moving my arms and told my self to straighten my legs focusing them to move like have seen in swim meets and aqua-man episodes as a kid, I could only imitate as the muscle memory seemed to have disappeared. Once I did that I moved to the shore just fine, but if forced me to stay calm, think through a situation that could kill a person, and prevail. I am sure I wasn’t in any real danger, but the mind can be very powerful to your self. After I got out I ran my but off and after about a half mile my body stopped shaking and started to warm up. That was my will to live moment, I smiled as at that point I knew I could take on much more. I loved that moment looking back at it and will never regret it.
After my first ToughMudder me and a group of new friends I met were hanging out drinking some beer, joking around reliving the days events and a guy came over and struck up a conversation with us. He asked us how we liked the coarse and commented on how he did a lot of the digging of the trenches and such. He then proceeded to ask us if we have Crocs (the shoe).
We thought that was odd but answered his question with a no. He then asked us if we wanted some, for free. Who was I to turn away a gift, besides I didn’t have Crocs or ever owned them. Of coarse we had to ask, why offer free shoes? he explained how he was a big part of the company from founding to IPO, now retired has his own plane, flies to ToughMudder events to dig up challenges and have fun. OK, I though that explains everything. In the next 5 minutes we had about 20 people ask if they could have some too. He hopped in his jeep, drove off, came back with a box full of about 30 pair of shoes. 5 minutes after that the beer vendors started poring endless line of beers as they were closing up for the day and had to empty the kegs. Free shoes and free beer, plus we were all just electrocuted a couple hours prior, life does not get any better than that.
So if you want to force you self to exercise, remind your self that your alive, meet great new people, and possibly get some free shoes and beer, do wait another minute. Go to ToughMudder.com and sign up for the next closest even near you. If you feel you are not ready physically to do your best, there are tons of other short mud runs which are great training ground for the ToughMudder. To find a list of mud runs go to http://www.mudruncentral.com/