I was (mostly) ready for the running and feats of He-Man strength. But nothing prepared me for the shock that awaited me at the end of Saturday’s Tough Mudder event at the Wintergreen Resort near Beech Grove, Virginia.
As a reporter who enjoys covering severe weather and relaxes by competing in off-road running and mountain bike races I rarely say no to a challenge. This spring I raced in The Warrior Dash, a three mile obstacle course race that was fun but short. When I heard there was a longer, harder version called Tough Mudder I signed up!
Tough Mudder is not a race. It’s more like a quest, filled with obstacles that sound right out of Tolkien’s Middle-earth: Devil’s Beard, Everest, and Fire Walker to name a few. Dante’s Inferno consists of nine circles of Hell, and for the next few hours I endured the Tough Mudder’s version and did my best to uphold the Tough Mudder pledge of “no whining.” I carried a Paul Bunyan-sized log about a half mile up and down a ski run, I swam through pools of ice-water, I crawled on my belly under barbed-wire fences, and other fun tasks. And, I did not whine, not out loud anyway.
Only the strongest and tallest athletes negotiated all the obstacles unaided. Camaraderie and team work were essential and expected. If someone helped you during a challenge you were expected to reciprocate. A lot of people entered in teams, making this misery-inducing experience a shared one.
I was amazed by entrants who completed this arduous trek in goofy costumes. I was also inspired by US military servicemen who competed with the names of fallen friends stitched into their sweat-soaked shirts. Tough Mudder donates a portion of proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.
As I turned the final corner of the 9 mile course I came face to face with the final and much-hyped obstacle Electroshock Therapy. It’s a tangle of yellow wires some of which carry a painful shock. I should know. I hit one of those wires right as my picture was taken.
I finished in under two and a half hours. Next up is the World’s Toughest Mudder held in December in New Jersey which brings together top qualifiers from other states for 24 hours of Mudder mayhem. That may be more madness than I can handle.
Jay Korff is a general assignment reporter at WJLA/News Channel 8