Tough Mudder

I have heard people talking about Tough Mudder, and some friends were taking part, so I thought I’d give it a go. I am pretty fit; a 12 mile run on muddy hills does not scare me, plus a few little obstacles, or so I thought…

I start my competition day in the usual way – with a big bowl of protein porridge. I cook the oats in a pan with water and stir in 100g of two chicks liquid egg white. The egg white gives the porridge a very creamy consistency, it tastes delicious and most importantly it gives my muscles a vital protein boost for the day ahead.

My team is called A+E, which I’m hoping is ironic and not a reference to requiring their services later! There are 25 of us and our theme is ‘Where’s Wally?’

The event starts off well; we run, do a couple of obstacles, wait for all the others and carry on. At this point I am thinking how much I am enjoying running through this beautiful Henley forest and that I will definitely be doing this again…Until we come to obstacle number 3: arctic enema  – as the name suggests, it is pretty cold. I realise I’d been overcome with a false sense of security as I plunge into a skip deep with ice cold water, (including extra ice cubes) and swim under tyres to the other side. Not only is it achingly freezing, it’s also dark and disorientating, your body goes into actual shock with the cold.

    Emerging from the skip!

At this point, it becomes too cold to stand and wait for the rest of our team so myself and 4 guys decide to break off and run on. Fortunately it’s a sunny day, so despite being soaking wet, I warm up as I run.

Having only just recovered from arctic enema, I’m confronted with obstacle number 4 – just the tip, which looks like this:

I get on and dare to utter ‘I can’t’ and get off. I contemplate getting into the water underneath to get across. The best thing about this event is the team work and the encouragement from your team mates helps massively, they shout ‘Alla you can do it’, I get back on, and triumphantly get across to the other side, albeit with very bruised palms!

Whilst some of the obstacles feel like they’ve been designed by the most hardened SAS soldier, there is some respite for me and thanks to my British military fitness training I manage some with much less trepidation. Here I am doing a hilly loop, running with a log of wood on my shoulder, child’s play compared to the mud and water I’ve endured!

Something I didn’t anticipate from Tough Mudder was its fear factor; I certainly didn’t expect to feel scared doing the race. Whilst I love a challenge and strive to do my best physically, the most muddy, claustrophobic and vertical obstacles (some of which involve electric shocks) not only tested my agility, they also tested my bravery. Amongst some of the worst were ‘balls to the wall’, ‘cage crawl’, and the scariest one for me was ‘walk the plank’ – jumping from a height of 12ft into what looks like a muddy puddle. I asked whether it was deep enough, and assured that it was. Some more ‘Come on Alla, you can do it’ helped me jump!

As the end of the race looms, I feel a strange combination of relief mixed with dread of what is next. The penultimate obstacle is aptly named ‘Everest’. You have to run up what feels like a vertical wall, and if you get far enough, the people at the top will grab your hands and pull you up. I manage it on my second attempt, very, very pleased with myself, as less than half the people manage this one.

At the finishing line after 4 hours of pain and exhilaration, I’m greeted with an orange headband and an immense feeling of achievement at having completed every obstacle, although my initial thoughts about the race not being so bad have been immersed back in the skip full of freezing water. In any case my 5 year old son takes one look at me and tells me in no uncertain terms I’m not allowed to do the race again!

By the time I get home I’ve never been more ready for a long bath and a huge protein shake, with two chicks egg white of course.

Celebrating with my team mates!


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