A team endurance challenge like no other, Tough Mudder has been called “probably the toughest event on the planet,” putting participants through an experience that is equal parts torture and badge of honor.
I am sure that anyone who has competed in or witnessed a Tough Mudder event, has wished: “Why didn’t I think of this first?” Is there a more ingenious way to use an off season ski mountain than to strew obstacles across its massive flanks, making each obstacle a sort of “Braveheart” meets “Jackass”, thus luring thousands of men and women of all ages who want to prove to themselves, to friends, to the world really, that they can finish. That they have the stuff to endure: frigid water, slimy tunnels, seemingly insurmountable walls, and, oh yes, a few instances of electric stingers, as if bees had flown down their shorts. And for these moments of “pleasure” they would pay. Anywhere from $60 to over $100 (depending on when they signed up) —and then gladly sign up again. There may be a more ingenious way to use mud, with the promise of being stretched to the limits, but I don’t know of anyone who knows the alchemy of turning mud into gold better than the folks at Tough Mudder. Or of converting part of that gold into a more meaningful cause than their reportedly $3 million donated so far to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Two weekends ago (May 5 – 6), beneath a gray Vermont sky, the snow melted slopes of Mt.Snow, famous in winter for its bumps and steeps and cruisers, hosted its second year of this most popular and successful entry in the sudden explosion of “if you think an Ironman or triathlon is challenging wait ‘till you try this.” Less extreme than the admittedly somewhat bizarre and at times downright sadistically nutty Death Race, also in Vermont,
the broad appeal of Tough Mudder (now spreading like kudzu across the country and overseas) is you don’t really win. It’s not about competition, except with your own will and desire, strength, endurance and ability to work with others to get through.
A hardcore “racer” who just busts through each of the over 20 obstacles may make it in two hours—but time that is not the draw. Most of the nearly 20,000 participants (spread across two days, with staggered start times) were happy to push through in four hours, give or take. It’s the ultimate “I dare you to do this” event. Think jumping into pools of water filled with blocks of ice, so cold you’d warm up by swimming on the Maine coast; or crawling through underground tunnels from which you emerge looking more swamp creature than human. Think 12 foot high walls, or a small pond like structure with tendrils of electric wires dangling so close to the surface, the slightest head twitch will send a current happily down your neck.
Teamwork meant watching a group carrying an American flag through the entire course, handing it off to team members so it never touched the ground.
Teamwork also meant supporting each other when the going got heavy.
Even though natural snow had long melted, a mixture of manmade snow and crusty ice welcomed Mudders towards the end of their day’s jaunt.
Once down the snow hill, one of the most physically challenging obstacles awaited.
If you have ice you must have fire.
Finally the finish line.
The next Tough Mudder New England at Mount Snow is July14 – 15. Register today and earn a lifetime of bragging rights when you finish.