crawling through mud

Tough Mudder

I read some think pieces about obstacle course races. They ask, why are people willing to spend $100+ to put themselves through pain for a few hours? Some say with modern, sterile, white-collar office jobs, people are not in tune with their bodies. They seek danger and excitement, and want to test their physical abilities. Anyway, I signed up because some computer science graduate students wanted to form a team, and I thought, “Sure, why not? I’ve never done one before.”

Before the race started, the MC gave a motivational speech. The gist of the speech was, Tough Mudder is not just a race, it’s a lifestyle and commitment to fitness. We all took a knee, not just the people from my school, but everyone, because we were all on the same team. We would help each other, perfect strangers, get through the race. It felt rather cultish. They played the Star-Spangled Banner. A man covered in tattoos exuberantly signed during the anthem.

It was raining, so the muddy course was even muddier. In addition, our team had a late start time, so the course was beaten down and slippery from all the previous racers. Despite running most of the time, I was numb from cold.

For the first obstacle, we had to army crawl through mud under barbed wire. I thought this was a suitable choice for the first obstacle, because it made me have no qualms about getting dirty the rest of the race. On the downside, it became harder to recognize my teammates, since everyone was covered in mud from head to toe.

I would describe most obstacles as people pulling me up and over things. I was pulled over a vertical wall, a rope wall, a curved wall, a human ladder, and multiple elevated banks while wading in water. I would not have been able to complete the race on my own. Some obstacles were not really obstacles. For example, one “obstacle” was running up and down a hill several times. Another “obstacle” was swimming across part of a lake. My favorite obstacle was “Block Ness Monster,” which consisted of large rectangular prisms in water. We had to work together to rotate and go over the prisms.

After the race, I couldn’t wait to shower and never do that again. But I know that time will soften the memories of hypothermia with a nostalgic glow, and in a moment of idiocy I will sign up for another obstacle course race, because “Sure, why not? Obstacle course races are fun.”

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