Tough Mudder. When I think of those words I think of mud, cold, wet, and rain. I see pictures of people clambering over obstacles and helping each other. It’s something I always assumed I’d do one day but never really signed up for. Then my friend Charlie, from The Runner Beans was putting a team together and before I cold talk myself out of it, I said yes.
I was doing it. I was going to run a Tough Mudder race! As the week went by I was excited, nervous, and kept trying to think of reasons why I shouldn’t do it. I was on my period, it would hurt my ankle, it would hurt my knee…the list went on and on. There were so many reasons to not do it. It was also not in London but a little outside, in Henley-on-Thames. It would mean a very early start.
See what I mean? So many reasons to not do it.
But I pushed all those thoughts aside and got on the right train at the right time (after a slightly panicked ticket buying in Paddington Station – why aren’t ticket machines fast?) and made my way to Henley. On the train I met up with Cara. She was part also part of the team and someone I’d been following on social media for ages and had never had the pleasure to meet.
Meeting her on the train was probably the best thing that could happen that morning; we talked about our worries and excitement – it made everything very real and very achievable. Once we reached Henley-on-Thames, Charlie and the fourth member of our team, Emma, were there ready to pick us up. The four of us made our way to the start line, ready to run (and swim and scramble)!
It was all thanks to Black Tower Wines and Charlie that I was given a place in this race and I am so, so grateful. The excitement had been building for a while, even through the very dodgy, very awkward, very vomit inducing warm up (sexy walk down an imaginary catwalk? What?). Thankfully that was over soon enough and we were on our way!
On our team we also had Sonia Goodwin, Tough Mudder Ambassador and someone who had completed the race over 50 times. FIFTY TIMES. She was amazing and such a help. Not only did she help us get over all the obstacles and tell us the best ways to manoeuvre them, she also helped everyone else she saw along the way.
No matter how hard the obstacles or how cold we were, in every single photo I have the five of us are laughing. And that’s because we were all having the best time. Some of the obstacles were really fun and some were really, really tough. There was one, called The Shawshank, which I think was my worst one. After an uphill climb in a pipe, there was a five foot drop into ice cold water. I fell into the water back first and then had to swim to the edge and somehow get out. Two very kind men literally pulled me out!
I also loved so many of the obstacles – we climbed a hay bale pyramid, survived the Block Ness Monster, and even made a make shift human pyramid to get over Happy Ending before running across the finish line hand in hand.
The best advice Sonia gave us is probably something I will also give everyone and one I will never forget. With Kiss of Mud there is no need to crawl on your arms and knees, possibly getting some cuts and grazes along the way; just roll through. Apart from some dizziness it was injury free!
Once we finished and had our finisher headbands on, we headed back to the Black Tower tent colder, wetter, and happier than when we started. We all treated ourselves to a little celebratory glass of fruity wine (I may have had more than everyone else because it was just so yummy) before heading back to the car to change into warmer clothes.
My favourite thing about this whole day was the ethos of Tough Mudder: it’s about teamwork and camaraderie before course times. It’s about not leaving a Mudder behind and everyone finishing the course. It’s about having a story to tell at the end.