With the rising popularity of running as a sport to keep fit, challenge oneself and enriching way to socialise, given time people will seek new routes to explore. It’s safe to assume that within any person who takes on endurance running as sport of choice there is willingness to push ones limits and take on new challenges – whether it’s improving one’s race time, length of course, differing terrain or venturing into the field of multi modality obstacle course racing.
LRC members Daphne Dodebier and Christina Peresso did just that, getting downright tough and dirty while taking part in The Grid locally and Tough Mudder in UK. They came back with surprising amount of energy and enthusiasm, considering the challenge they had just been taking on – must be the weekend long runs! – to share their experiences and encouraging others to put their mettle to the test.
How did you hear about the event?
Daphne: The event was suggested to me by my boss as a work / team building thing.
Christina: I heard about Tough Mudder about three years ago from a fitness instructor whose classes I attended at the time. He had done Tough Mudder himself with a group of friends and I vividly remember the way he talked about this amazing experience after he completed it .
What made you personally take part?
Daphne: It sounded like something different to the usual running from A to B, bit more of a challenge, a bit more fun and also interesting in terms of I knew I could run 15km but could i do it while also climbing, swimming, running through mud and sand.
Christina: This challenge has always been on my mind since I got to know about it, however I would have never imagined that one day I would be physically fit for it. Last summer we were over at friends for a bbq and out of the blue I asked them if they were interested in doing Tough Mudder in May. No one knew what it was and after showing them a video , everyone loved the idea and soon after we booked. I personally love challenges and considering that I have only started training seriously these last 3 years , for me besides being an amazing experience it is also a great satisfaction. So basically I was the main mastermind behind the idea.
What kind of preparation / training did you do?
Daphne: Nothing different to the usual – I generally try to run 3 times a week (totalling about 30km) and do one circuit / boxing or other core training class – I knew I could easily cover the distance but as to whether I had the physical strength to deal with the obstacles as well … my team mates and I promised to help each other with a little friendly push and shove here and there and I thought (hoped!) this would be enough.
Christina: Tough Mudder is not only a physical challenge but its also a test of your mental courage. It is all about overcoming your fears. Besides being able to run 20 km with a lot of uphill and muddy terrain, you need to work a lot on upper body, strength training, core and most of all the main aim is to increase your conditioning and stamina.
The race itself – how was the day?
Daphne: The day was perfect! I feared it might be too hot as temperatures had increased of late, 8:30 a.m. was also a relatively late start and I wanted to wear long sleeves and trousers to try to prevent grazes, cuts etc. I needn’t have worried as it was overcast and relatively cool plus there were 3 water obstacles which meant that you cooled off at regular intervals although running with soaked shoes was an interesting (!!) new element.My time was ultimately irrelevant as I spent approximately 30 minutes kneeling on the floor holding the hand of a total stranger who happened to injure herself on the course right in front of me and therefore then felt in duty bound to assist until an ambulance arrived. She slipped off a monkey bars set up and broke her elbow and hit her head, she was in and out of consciousness so myself and another competitor stayed with her until medical services took over. Which brings me to the only negative aspect of the event which was safety, the obstacles were in my opinion verging on the dangerous and while I appreciate that an element of risk is always involved in these events I think the risks could have been mitigated on this course. My advice to anyone participating in something like this is to know your own limits and stick to them! Do not get carried away by the excitement and if you feel the obstacle is too much for you or unsafe opt for the penalty. It is never worth injuring yourself.
Christina: I must say we were quite lucky. We had some sunshine, and since most of the obstacles consist of mud and water you are constantly wet during the race, so a ray of sunshine is a blessing!
How was the race course constructed – what was the distance of actual running approx. and what kind of terrain was it?
Daphne: The course was 15km of varied terrain, including some very rough parts, with 30 obstacles thrown in along the way ranging from a vertical slide into the sea, crawling through tunnels and mud, monkey bars, climbing in and out of skips filled to the brim with water, sheer walls and climbing up shipping containers.
Christina: The race course is 12 miles with many lovely hills and consists of 25 obstacles. The terrain is mountainous, some is flat ground, and most of it is very muddy.
What was the toughest bit in your opinion?
Daphne: The toughest bit was definitely the physical upper body strength required to negotiate some of the obstacles although as we competed as a team and helped each other along the way it was all manageable. Also all competitors in general helped each other out where required and most people didn’t treat it as a race but showed great team spirit. By the end the running also seemed much harder than 15km usually would because overall your muscles start to turn to jelly from the exertion and adrenaline.
Christina: I personally managed to complete 23 obstacles out of 25. The two I didn’t complete are ‘King of the Swinger‘ and ‘Funkey Monkey‘, these were very challenging as it is mainly monkey bars and your upper body needs to be super strong.The obstacle I found the toughest is ‘Arctic Enema’: this is a high speed entry in which you must dunk under 10 tonnes of brown coloured iced water. My heart stopped!!!! However the feeling after was incredible!!! Electro shock therapy is an obstacle that I was very terrified of doing. The last thing standing between you and the finish line is just a short, muddy sprint that you need to cross with many dangling wires coming down giving shocks at 10,000 volts. This is their way of saying congratulations. Again the feeling was fantastic!!!
How did you feel reaching the finish line?
Daphne: Despite the ordeal (or maybe because of it!) crossing the finishing line gave an amazing sense of satisfaction and I would most certainly do it again and recommend it to others (cautioned by the advice above to know and stick with your personal limits!)
Christina: At the finish line I felt so accomplished. Everyone has a goal in mind and that is to finish alive and to finish with a team of people who are right there with you to help you through the toughest challenges. What I felt was amazing and different from other races is that everyone helps each other and that is the main goal of all MUDDERS.
After thoughts – would you do it again?
Daphne: It was certainly a change from the sometimes monotonous pace of running and the feel (confirmed by the aches pains and bruises in the days after) was more of an all over work out rather than just a 15km run.Christina: I would love to do it over and over again!
Would you train differently – something in particular now that you have done it once?
Christina: Yes I would definitely train harder on my upper body.
Would you gear up – wear different kind of kit?
Christina: No I had the perfect gear. Minimal clothes as possible!
Would you recommend it others?
Daphne: I would say however that it is definitely something to do as a team, preferably with a few strong men thrown in!