This past weekend, I accompanied Son #2 to his first Tough Mudder race. If you aren’t familiar with these challenges, it is an 16km obstacle course normally involving running up and down a ski slope. This is not for the faint of heart.
Participants are often in teams to provide assistance to one another to complete the various obstacles.
My first uh-oh moment came before I even entered the grounds at the ski resort where the race was being held. As a spectator I needed to sign a waiver. Say, what?!! No one said anything about ME being at risk. I was suddenly much more alert on this chilly Sunday morning.
My second uh-oh moment came when I realized that the key word for the day was going to be MUD … and it wasn’t going to be just the participants who would be battling it. I looked down at my clean running shoes and deeply regretted my choice of footwear. My feet were about to get wet and dirty and in spite of all my experience as a hiker, it didn’t occur to me that I might need clean shoes for the long drive home.
Certain obstacles on the course could be accessed by spectators and of course Son#2 expected that I would be there to see him. Two of the most popular obstacles were Arctic Enema and Walk The Plank. The former involves a dive under a fence in ice water and the latter involves a jump from a height of about 20 feet into a pond of water.
To get to these obstacles, I needed to climb one of the ski slopes and go down on the other side. No problem, I thought. I’m a reasonably fit person. That was my third uh-oh moment.
Climbing that ski hill was brutal. More than once – bathing in sweat – I wondered if I was heart attack material. Going down the other side wasn’t any easier … I slid on the wet grass twice and came down hard on my butt. My little Point and Shoot camera in my back pocket cushioned my landing each time. It really is a miracle this little thing continues to work (sort of) in spite of all the abuse it has taken.
I was humbled by my single climb of the ski hill. The participants were going up and down the different hills on the course FIVE times. My heart threatens to explode at just the thought of it.
For many people – both participants and spectators – the highlight of the obstacle course is the ElectroShock Therapy just before the finish line. Think of a mud path topped with dozens of thin wires carrying an electrical charge strong enough to give you a good zap.
Caked in mud, limping from various pulled muscles, and covered in scrapes under the layers of mud, they finished the course with huge smiles as they claimed the prize all finishers receive – an orange Tough Mudder headband.
My purpose as chauffeur for the group became apparent on the ride home … after they had showered and changed clothing. Within 10 minutes, all three had fallen asleep in the car and I had a very quiet and peaceful drive home in the heavy cottage country traffic heading back into the city.
My son is one Tough Mudder.