Two of the most mentally, physically, and emotionally hardest things I’ve ever done was to participate in the Tough Mudder and Spartan obstacle courses. Haven’t heard of them? They’re basically crazy things that crazy people sign up for¬†to see how much their body can stand before you collapse. ūüôā That being said, I’ve done both of them, so I don’t know what that says about me..

The first one I participated in was the Tough Mudder. It was a very cold, windy, wet October morning at the Miller Motor Sports field. With the very little training that I’d done, I was preparing for the worst. I was supposed to be running 13 miles with 20-something obstacles spread throughout the course. I could always quit partway through, right?

 

Tough Mudder

The only picture from the Tough Mudder. I have a bunch of videos from a GoPro but I’ve yet to figure out how to upload them correctly…

We definitely did not look this¬†good or happy when we finished… Anyways, my little team of family and friends were super excited at the beginning, but after the first few obstacles, we had to dunk ourselves in FREEZING cold water. Like they were literally dumping in ice cubes as we jumped in. That on top of the already cold weather made for some numbing fingers and faces, and the rest of the course went downhill from there. For me at least. The guys finished way before me.

So I thought I was mostly prepared for the obstacles because they had a list of everything online. I knew there would be jumping, crawling, barbed wire, and electrical wires. But I’d never been shocked quite like this before. The first electrical wires we had to basically roll through in the mud. I think my mind passed out, but my body kept rolling, because I somehow found myself rolling out of the wires, not remembering anything that happened in the last five seconds, and incredibly dizzy. So that was weird, because I’d never passed out before in my life. We continued running, jumping over hay bales, crawling into mud pitts, crawling into this completely nasty underground tunnel that I’m pretty sure they put¬†rotten¬†meat in because it smelled horrendous. We also had to climb up and jump into a pool of water like 15 feet below us. I’d never even gone off the high-dive at the local pool before this, so it was both thrilling and scary. (I’ve since gone off the high-dive… It’s not that bad). Two thirds of the way through, we reached these bars of wood we had to jump over. By this time you’re so tired you can barely place your hands steadily on the wood to attempt to jump over them. And throughout all this my hands and face were¬†still cold, my feet were¬†deciding to stop working because I’d never run that¬†far in my life, my knees hurt, my limbs felt¬†bruised. And yet we kept pushing. Beyond my physical exhaustion. I don’t know how¬†I kept running. I could have crawled faster. To distract from the pain, the field we were running in was positively gorgeous. We were running near the back of the Oquirrh Mountains (pronounced Oh-Curr), and there were beautiful cloud formations rolling over us. Video footage of this beauty will come when I figure out how to upload GoPro videos…

At the very end were the second set of electrical wires. There were hay bales in the way and the people running in before me were collapsing left and right from being hit with the wires. It was actually pretty entertaining to watch. I opted to run through because I hadn’t yet skipped a single obstacle. I remember running in, being hit twice¬†smack-dab in the middle of the forehead, and pulling myself out at the end with my face completely covered in mud because I’d fallen flat on my face twice. I was so confused and dazed that I’d completely blacked out that I just started crying. Crying because I’d finished. Crying because I had mud in my eyes. Crying because I’d blacked out and couldn’t remember any of the last 50 feet. My sweet cousin was there to wipe the mud out of my face with her shirt. And then I was done. I had just accomplished the worst thing I’ve ever put myself through. And somehow my legs still worked… enough to pull me to the car. That night I literally could not walk.

And also that night, Colton decided to sign up for the Spartan in June. Another 13 mile obstacle course that included fire, water, wires, and weights. He hadn’t joined in on the Tough Mudder, so wanted to prove he could also put his body through Hell. It’s a tribute to how addled my brains were after being shocked into blackouts that I said, “Okay!” even while still being unable to walk or go up stairs.

Some of our group before the start.

Some of our group before the start.

So, eight months later, and having only a bit more training than the Tough Mudder, we set out once again with a group of family and friends to see how much our bodies could handle. While the Tough Mudder was freezing, the Spartan was blazing hot. We hiked basically straight up the mountainside of Soldier Hollow in single file while the sun beat down on us. I tried my best to keep up with all the guys, but I fell back toward the end. Colton kindly stayed with me, or also couldn’t go much faster than me, especially after I sliced my knee¬†open falling on some tires we had to hop¬†through. It was pretty gross, and because my blood was already pumping, blood was basically spurting out my knee. It looked way more awesome than it ended up being after I had it cleaned up. In fact, almost a year later, I’m pretty sure I still have two pieces of tire in my knee…

Knee sans mud and blood

Knee sans mud and blood

The Spartan included much more strength skill than the Tough Mudder had. We had to carry a five-gallon bucket of rocks up a short hill without spilling it. We had to drag around a cement block on a chain. (My dad might have helped me a little there). We had to flip giant tires, climb slippery muddy ropes, and if we failed anything we had to drop and do burpees, which are pushups from Hell. The worst part of the Spartan was the very end. There was like a quarter of a mile of barbed wire to crawl under. And we couldn’t just role or slide; it was way too rocky, and there was some guy at the bottom pelting everyone with freezing water from a fire hose. That part lasted FOREVER and it was everyone’s least favorite part.

While the Spartan was harder strength-wise, I think the Tough Mudder was more draining simply because it was so cold. I finished the Spartan pretty darn tired but still feeling okay about myself despite the warm weather. I finished the Tough Mudder and wanted to die.

Rolling under the mile of barbed wire

Rolling under the mile of barbed wire

Spartan14

So… after all that, these are two events that I WOULD recommend to people. Or you can find something similar but in a shorter length (the Spartan offers different-lengthed races). While it was physically and mentally exhausting, it’s something that I can proudly say I’ve tried and successfully finished. It feels really good to know that I can push myself to my limits and conquer my fears. (Although I’ve developed a strange aversion to electrical outlets). Plus, it wouldn’t be as hard if you actually trained and are in better shape than me when you do it. And if nothing else convinces you, there’s free beer at the end of both races as you run through the finish lines. ūüôā

My legs after the Spartan

My legs after the Spartan

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