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Tough Mudder Completed

Written by Natalie Barker on

It’s been a recurring blog post during my training, but yesterday Tough Mudder became a reality for me. 11 miles of mud & obstacles at Drumlanrigg Castle in Scotland. After 6 months of training I felt ready to tackle the course & hoped to complete in about 3.5hrs. Obstacles ranged from mud slicked hills to electric shocks to more mud filled trenches, cargo nets, 12ft sheer walls and (my least favorite) an ice filled container which had to be waded through. In all there were 22 specific obstacles to manage, as well as the muddiest track I’ve ever seen, which threatened to take your feet out from under you with every step. I quickly discovered that no amount of training can prepare you for the real thing.

I set off in the first group of the morning (about 400 of us) and managed to keep a good pace over the first mile becoming one of the first of the day to reach the ‘Kiss of Mud part 1′ (a long slither under barbed wire). Completion of this obstacle led me to ‘The Arctic Enema’. Imagine jumping into a giant vat of ‘Slush Puppy’ ducking underneath then wading 20ft to the other end and hauling yourself out whilst your body tries to shut down in the cold. I’ve never experienced anything so awful in my life & 1 mile later (still freezing) my team started to worry that I wouldn’t make the whole course.

The next mile or so was an uphill run through the woods surrounding Drumlanrigg castle before dropping down to river level again and wading under a bridge. More mud followed  & then we arrived at the ‘Boa Constrictor’ a series of pipes which set off down hill into cold muddy water then up and out to continue running. By this time I’d managed to warm up again & had renewed my determination to ‘tough it out’. At this point we came to ‘Walk the plank’ a 15ft high platform which we climbed then jumped off into a small tarn (we’re in Scotland so it may have been a loch?). More and more running through calf deep mud led on to another ‘Kiss of Mud’ which was longer but seemed easier than the first due to my improving technique.

In front of us now loomed ‘The Cliffhanger’ a very steep and slimy hill which sapped all strength from the legs as we powered our way up it. The course designers are obviously evil people as we now approached ‘The Berlin Walls’. Twin 9ft sheer walls which must be scaled to continue. Teamwork is a must here and often runners from many teams will band together to complete getting over. On from the walls and to the last ‘Kiss of Mud’ then to a lake with lines barrels floating across which we had to duck under to pass. Another ‘Mud Mile’ followed in which I took a misstep and sank to the waist in the thick ooze (twisting my knee as I did so). Sore knee be blowed, I was half way around the course and i was going to finish.

Next came a cargo net crawl, then on to a field filled with smoke from straw bales set alight at the edge of the track. These two seemed quite easy to deal with after what we’d already been through leaving us ready for my favorite obstacle ‘Trench Warfare’. A long series of water filled trenches with the excavated earth piled in a great slick heap between each trench. I attacked them with a certain amount of pent up aggression which saw me make up some ground on competitors who had passed me earlier. Out of the mud and a short run led to a high climb over another cargo net out into open fields and on to ‘Log Jammin’.  An ‘over/under’ series of logs, forcing the body into a massive intake of oxygen. After this we we were each given a large chunk of wood to carry across a 200yd section of the course before starting the run downhill to the final series of events.

To begin our final 1.5 miles we negotiated another set of ‘Berlin walls’ but this time they had been build at a towering 12ft. After helping Gareth over, I received some help reaching the top by the lads running just behind (I cramped up whilst sat on top of the wall, so had to wait for it to pass as I thought ‘how are the Paramedics going to help me up here’). A short dash downhill brought us to ‘The Electric Eel’ another low obstacle where we had to crawl on our stomach but this time soaking wet and with electric wires carrying 10,000 volts hanging with just inches of room (3 zaps for me on the way through). Another downhill to ‘Funky Monkey’ an uphill section of ‘Monkey bars’ which I fell off only 3 swings in (I swam the water hazard rather than re start).

Only 2 obstacles left. Everest with its’ 15ft slick curved wall (managed on 3rd attempt), & finally ‘Electroshock Therapy’ a straight run through more live wires and 10, 000 volts before crashing though the finish line flat on my face (a 10,000 volt shock while leaping over a straw bale will cause that).

Our team split in half early in the race as we knew that Russell and Matt had a great chance of getting in amongst the best times of the day, which they promptly did with a time of 1hr 55mins (Fastest of the day was 1hr 51mins). I am indebted to Gareth who stuck with me even though he could have shaved 20 minutes off his time. We lurched over the line at 2hr 51 mins (still respectable as there were hundreds still coming in after 4 hours). The feeling of achievement completing an event like this is immense, with the pain of the last few miles washed away in an instant (before returning a few hours later as you stiffen up like a twig). All in all a great experience and a fantastic amount raised for all our charities. If anyone is still wishing to sponsor me after the fact then please follow the link below. All proceeds go to Epilepsy research.

Natalie Barker

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Operations Manager
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