What Can I Expect at a Tough Mudder?

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With Tough Mudder returning to New Zealand for 2017, we thought it apt to re-publish advice a Tough Mudder veteran. This article was originally published in 2014 by Dan Bowie on the previous Obstacle Racers NZ site.


So someone showed you some of the Tough Mudder videos, or maybe you got dragged into signing up by your gym or workplace?

But now as we count down the days the butterflies in your stomach are starting to grow bigger….. then you read some article online that lists the history of Tough Mudder’s injuries and outlines the dangers of electric shock….. WHAT HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOURSELF INTO?!

Tough Mudder bib

In late 2012, I was lucky enough to lose my obstacle racing virginity to Sydney’s premier Tough Mudder. After seeing footage online and seeing what a Tough Mudder was all about it seemed like a great goal, but it turned out to be more than that. My first Tough Mudder was the most fun, rewarding and inspiring thing I have ever done.

Tough Mudder Auckland will be unlike anything New Zealand has seen before. Its more than just a running event, it’s an epic carnival for people who love a challenge but don’t take life too seriously. The event centers around ‘Mudder Village’ which contains all the normal event facilities like registration, bag drop, merch tent and toilets etc. But also places to relax, food and drink vendors (yes there will be plenty of beersies for the spectators and you, once you cross the finish line) music and entertainment.

In Sydney they had things like a keg toss contest or you could get a free mohawk to pass the time while you waited for your wave to leave. Historically the course intersects Mudder village numerous times, they place the largest and most exciting obstacles around it so the spectators have plenty of entertainment without having to travel far – and you have lots of people to cheer you on.

What can you expect from the course?

MUD. Absolutely ridiculous amounts of mud. Honestly, it’s insane. There were times i would stop, look around and couldn’t help laughing at the surreal sight of hundreds of mud soaked people smiling and having the time of their lives as they struggled through the pits, piles and swamps. And yes it gets everywhere, you can expect to be washing it from your ears for days afterwards.

Tough Mudder Sydney

The scale of the obstacles is really fantastic, there are no dinky hurdles or tyres here. ‘Everest’ and ‘The Funky Monkey’, to name a couple of the largest, dwarf you and your aching muscles, but provide a real challenge and sense of satisfaction. The obstacle stations, a reported 18 over 20kms for the Auckland event, are well spaced around the course which keeps the running sections nice and short.

The biggest gap I found between obstacles at the Sydney event, was about 4 kms and that only occurred once throughout the course. The Tough Mudder course designers are known for utilizing the local terrain, so expect hills to be part of the course if there are any nearby. You do have the option to bypass any obstacles that you don’t want to do, but lets be honest, you didn’t sign up for 20kms of uneventful trail running and you will regret not at least trying everything once you cross that finish line.

Be prepared to help and be helped by complete strangers. The camaraderie amongst Tough Mudder’s is legendary and you will no doubt find yourself laughing with, and encouraging people you’ve never met before – who you will never recognize again once they’re clean!

Plenty of people wear hydration packs, including myself (filled with water, not beersies) though there will be at least 6 water stations at intervals. To be honest I used my water more to clean the lens of my camera than to quench my thirst. We carried energy gels with us also, these really seemed to help at about the 12km mark, tho they did supply bits of banana at some of the last water stations to help keep energy levels up.

My advice for first time Mudders

Train hard and come prepared so you can enjoy your Tough Mudder experience. Wear minimal clothing, or clothing that drains well, but dress to the weather conditions on race day. Wear proper fitting shoes, preferably something with some grip that drains well, trails shoes if you have them, but old trainers will do. Plenty of people discard their shoes after a Tough Mudder, but I found the washing machine will fix them just fine.

People also duct tape their shoes on, to try and hold them on… this doesn’t work, and leaves the course littered with tape. I suggest using the lace lock technique as it will secure your shoes without cutting of circulation in your foot. You can find more about it here.

Be well prepared for after the race, bring a towel and full change of clothes, those who wear contact lenses may want to bring some eye rinse and a fresh pair as they can get pretty gritty. Bring cash, there will only be limited eftpos on site.

You can find further details including a ‘What to Bring’ checklist at Tough Mudder’s official website.

Get ready for an epic adventure! I’ve been looking forward to this since I crossed the finish line last time.

Tough Mudder Sydney footage

Below is the footage I¬†shot with a hand held sports cam. The quality is terrible, but you get the general idea of the fun we had. The mud scenes in this footage are NOT the muddiest we got to go through…. in the worst/best mud, no one could get to their hands to get the camera out!!!!

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