The event was held at the Phillip Island Raceway again, which lays an hour and a three quarters drive from Melbourne, and backs onto the Bass Strait. I had only recently been given the all clear from the ankle troubles of late last year, and had not had a lot of preparation, baring three or four runs, of 2 - 5km, so I wasn't sure about how I would cope, not only with my ankles, or my general lack of CV fitness as a result of my injury, the prednisone treatment (25mg daily, dropping 5mg each week to wean away).
Regardless, I had booked in, and was raring to go. I had tried to drum up interest from the folks I ran with the previous year, but no takers (although it turns out, a couple did the event as it happens).
For those who don't know what the Tough Mudder is, it is a 20+km endurance challenge, with 25+ military inspired obstacles. The events run world-wide, in all conditions, and feature some signature obstacles, namely, lots, and lots of mud, electrical wire filled corridors, and pools swimming under barriers, ice filled pools and all manner of climbing, crawling, and of course, running. I hate running.
The above pics are me before the race, in my running kit, pretty much the same outfit that I wore for the previous endurance event I did, the Stampede with the First Spear OAGRE vest, with my Source 3L bladder in the back, and snap-fixed to the 5.11 Tactical TDU belt, keeping the vest snug to me and my TAD Amphibious Shorts with my trusty Blackhawk! kneepads, which were again, a real bonus, so, "i told you so" to all the scoffing runners out there. You can see me, fresh from the Arctic Enema/Chernobyl Jacuzzi ice bath and dunk, fishing a couple of ice-cubes out from my kneepads. I also wore my iPhone, in its SLXtreme case mounted in the Platatac PRR pouch I got specifically for the event. On my head I wore one of my caps, which I had modified to carry a picatinny rail, in order for me to mount my Contour GPS helmet-cam to, via the Strikemark adapter I have. I also added a chin-strap to the cap, to help deal with the added weight of the camera, which seemed to work pretty well. I wore one of the Under Armour t-shirts from the previous Tough Mudder and my Ironclad gloves.
I also swapped out boots, having put my Altama's into retirement and for this event, I wore my Bates Delta-8's which really held up well, and cleaned up tremendously.
Here's one of me having scaled a 2m "Berlin Wall" and torn my number off in the process. Lesson learned, bring my own safety pins or lashing system. Their little pins were ineffective!
This is me and my running-mate, #7819 :) doing the SHINBASHI salute after coming over the Bale Bonds.
She and I knew each other socially, and upon hearing my interest in a running-mate, signed up, regardless of trepidation and obstacle-shyness. Far better a runner than I, we kept a good pace, she kept me going on the straights, and I helped her along on the climbing, jumping and swimming, crawling and squelching.
She started the race with a black headscarf to match her all-black running slicks. I was referring to us as "day-ops" and "night-ops". My gear was already mud-coloured, and my head higher up, so don't think that I was getting away unscathed ...
We did the course in just under 4 hours, I felt that it was actually a lot easier this year, even without all the extensive running I did prior to the previous events. This may be in no small part to mental preparation, and experience. There were no "I haven't done it before" nerves. I made it over every obstacle on my own steam, climbed every wall, made it across the slippery monkey-bars, made it up the Everest half-pipe on my first run. I was rally pleased with not only my pace, but the speed I overcame the obstacles in my path, but also how I was able to help me fellow Mudders.
Here I am, following the event, having stripped off the OAGRE, sporting my celebratory headband, and working up the guts to pull my boots off. Not a blister, or scratch, but a lot of grit and muddy water. It turned out that the time-lapse application I had hoped to run on my iPhone hadn't begun, but the SLXtreme and PRR combination had worked like a dream. The Picatinny rail I had mounted the Contour cam on needed to be at more of a down-angle, I took a lot of 3/4 sky footage, but see below for my links.
I dinged my shin whilst hurdling a log, and gave myself this exciting bruise on the back of my left thigh. Last year I had two of these, one on the back of each thigh. This year I pegged the moment when I got it ... scaling one of the 4m Berlin Walls, lesson learned? major muscle groups do not make good leavers!
A great event, a good challenge, and certainly a good conditioning and preparation experience.
Will I do it again? hells yes. As many, and as often as I can manage.