Tag Archives: tough mudder

The Better Part of Valor: Watching My Friends Run the Tough Mudder

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From left to right: The Tiz, Big Phil, Burger, and BenSpann

How much would I have to pay you to drive several hours to run 12 miles through exorbitantly muddy conditions in chilly November temperatures? $20 for the novelty of it? Let’s sweeten the pot. I’ll include a dip in a sub 40-degree pool of water, zap you with electricity on multiple occasions, and if you cramp up, well, I have no contingency plan for you. Sorry. $50 is probably a solid compensation for that scenic walkabout. Would you do it for $50? Fine. I’ll throw in a beer and a commemorative t-shirt you can flaunt what a badass you are to everyone you know. Can I pay you to do this?

Wait, what? You’d like to pay me for organizing all this? $120 you say? I’ll cover gas and lodging of course…you’ll pay for that too? Welcome to the Tough Mudder my friend.

I don’t do a lot of comemorative posts on Writing Bareback, but what the heck. I went to the Tough Mudder in Charlotte during the first weekend of November. Let me be very clear about one thing: I did not run it. My co-blogger Tommy ran it because he’s in love and that makes us stupid. I was there with my college roommates and Daniel “The Tiz” Thompson, pictured at the top of this column.

Sure, they look like happy guys. And why not? They chose to embark on this run. They’ve had a good night’s rest and a good morning’s breakfast. Pre-run, everyone’s happy. Including me. I staked out this view for the first obstacle:

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So what if it was 10am. We’re all weekend warriors at this event. Also, I was dealing with a personal situation. The night before, we went to Sticky Fingers for some BBQ. The waitress asked what brought us in, and I said the Tough Mudder. The guys immediately clarify that I’m too scared to run. I don’t point out that scared isn’t a synonym for wise and instead take the abuse in jovial fashion. “Team mom” and “mascot” were some of the nicer terms. The waitress hears mascot and says I should dress up. The guys love the idea. I say I’d do it, thinking that nothing will come of it. Instead, we stop by Wal-Mart on the way back to the hotel, and they purchase me this little number:

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So the pre-10a beer is justified. Also, this made me a little bit of celebrity among race patrons as I was easy to spot, easy to approach, and easy on the eyes. I spent the first obstacle speaking to some ex-marine who was working security. He respected the onezie, gave me a map of the course and generally applauded my stance on not running.

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Early on, standing in a pink onezie with multi-colored snowflakes, you think you’d feel a lot manlier if you ran. It’d probably be better for your self-esteem all-around to run. Especially cause the guys look pretty stoked about overcoming their first obstacle. I’ve never known what “warrior poets” are, but dammit if they didn’t look like them.

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I walked the mile and a half to the next obstacle, the Arctic Enema, and immediately realize that the walk was exhausting, and the last thing I want to do is jump into a bucket of 35-degree water. I certainly wouldn’t have spent $7 for an ice bath at this point, which I kind of figured is the PPO (price per obstacle).

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The shocked faces confirm my theory. Big Phil was really the star of the post-enema posing. He looked like the happiest house-dog that ever lived. Finally wet and muddy and in his element.

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Then it was a waiting game. I walked back to get another beer, and then walked to intercept them at the next obstacle I could view, some wall-scaling thing. I was happy for this obstacle because it led to the following photo:


And the following conversation upon reviewing pics/vids in our hotel room:

Me: This is such a great shot of Burger’s butt.
BenSpann: Look at that butt!
Burger: What can I say man?
Me: Big Phil’s at just the right level!
BenSpann: Philly, you’re getting right up in there!
BigPhil: I was thinking about shinin’ the penny.
Me: [breathless laughter]

I’d never heard the phrase before, and I lived with Big Phil for almost four years. That’s the exact kind of gross word-gem you hope to mine out of these events.

Up to this point of the run, it’s been pretty casual. Sure, the guys were exhausted. I’ve seen geriatrics walk laps at the mall faster than they were running, but their spirits were high. It was probably this next event that began putting a damper on them. Tommy chronicled his own struggles with the Eel Crawl well, but when it comes to personal pleasure, it’s hard to beat the live screams of your friends. The Tiz has my favorite around the 21-second mark.

From there, it was a quick decline. The guys looked pretty haggard when I next saw them. I hate that I didn’t get BenSpann’s original cramping on video. It was a cite to be seen. We huddled over him and massaged his calves for 15 minutes, basically rubbing his will to continue back into his legs. All we have recorded is his gritty determination to overcome this final, nearly fatal obstacle:

The guys finished. Big Phil got electrocuted so bad on the final obstacle that he was knocked off his feet, and there was a legit 15 seconds where I didn’t know if he was getting back up. I’ve never laughed so hard. They finished, shivered, and looked pretty miserable.

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Well, except Burger. He probably could have run another one right away. Did they inspire me to join them when they do it again? Nope. I liked my Team Mom role just fine. My boys made me so proud.

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Yes ladies, I still own the onezie,
Dusty “weak and clean” Riedesel

Love makes you do crazy things: Tough Mudder Edition

“Yes, sweetheart, we paid to do this.”

It’s been about a month since I last posted anything. Where have I been? Well besides living and experiencing things to then write about, I’m on what Dusty called a “love break.” Yes, its true and I’m not ashamed to admit it. That being said, love will make you do some crazy things. Things that the “normal, not-in-love” version of you would scoff at.

2 weekends ago, love led me to beautiful Charlotte, NC for the Tough Mudder. I’m just now recovered enough to share my experience of this event with you.

For those of you who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is the Mudder (pun? alliteration?) of all mud races. Yeah, I’m looking at you Zombie Run, Rugged Maniac, Spartan Race, Muddy Buddy, et al. You’re all Mickey Mouse, child’s play compared this 12 mile, 18 obstacle bastard. It’s safe to say I used more than a few 4-letter words (sorry Mom).

Let me just take you on a little journey through the 3.5 hour light jog on a Saturday afternoon. After roughly 2 miles and crawling through a foot of mud under barbed wire, you’re asked to do the Arctic Enema. What’s that? Oh you know, just an industrial size dumpster, fill with muddy water and ICE. Yeah. And once you jump in this thing, you then have to go head under water for a few seconds to get passed a conveniently placed board in the middle. It’s safe to say, I was a full-blown woman for about 30 seconds after that plunge and only brought myself back to man-hood by peeing during the next run.

2 miles down. 12 to go. The next few obstacles sucked equally as bad and were a complete mind-F. Hey, let’s have people hoist us up a 15 foot wall, so we can climb over and jump down the other side! Yay! Or the obstacle “Just the Tip.” Not the same game played by every fraternity guy on a Friday night social. You scale, side-ways across a 2×6 piece of lumber, nailed to a wall and hanging you 10 feet above water.

And then, the Electric Eel. This satanic obstacle involved army crawling through a foot of water for 20 feet, under electrical wires hanging at your face. If you just put your hand in the water if felt like the static shock you get from rubbing your socks on the floor and turning on a light switch. Only this time, doing that under water. Despite this, I dove in, swam across and felt my body uncontrollably jolt for the entire 20 feet.

Later on, on this lovely Saturday afternoon stroll, we climbed what I later learned was a 25 foot high dive platform and jumped into cold, muddy water with no idea of just how deep that pit was actually dug. Sadly, my American Flag bandana was lost on this plunge and is now resting peacefully in a now covered ditch on a farm in Charlotte.

Along with people in our running group have massive cramps in both calves, legs, stomachs, chest and my knee feeling like someone hit it repeatedly with a Louisville Slugger, we escaped without experience TOO much pain. That is, until we got to ElectroShock Therapy. Enjoy the video below watching people’s bodies get shocked rendering them immobile. It’s hilarious to watch, but I would have never done this had I watched the video. My favorite part is hearing the people video taping try to give advice.

You run through mud and misting water with 10-30 volt wires hanging like devilish, electric spider webs. And, oh by the way, there were a few 100volt wires dangling in there as well. If you’re lucky enough to find those…you’ll know. As I climb on top of a hay bail, I felt a pain in my shoulder like I’ve never felt and my body was out of my own control for about 5 seconds. On top of that, my girlfriends arm was barely touching mine, and the volts passed through my body, and shocked her! What a way to end a Saturday!

But at the end they give you a beer and an Orange head band! So worth it!

I can safely say the 2 things I’d never like to go through again are:

6th-8th grade (wow they were awkward, right?)

Tough Mudder

Glad to be back,

Tommy “Yes it was that bad” Cooksey