For those who don’t know, Tough Mudder is an 18km course with approximately 30 different obstacles. On July 9th I participated in this event with a team from my gym to raise funds for Pieta House; a charity close to our hearts.
Although I knew it would push me physically (I’m still extremely sore), I did not realise the extent to which it would test my mental attitude too. The course unlocked a sense of courage, determination, and willpower that I hadn’t recognised within me before.
So what did I discover over the 4 hour challenge?
Well I uncovered many truths….
#1 Many Hands Make Light Work
It was 7.30 am on a Saturday. The clouds were low, and the rain poured. Kitted out in our blue Pieta House shirts and decorated in war paint we approached the start line as a team. Before the event commenced the MC united all the participants and led us in the “Tough Mudder Pledge”. One of the lines stated that the course is not a race and it has no concern for time. The objective, instead, is to encourage teams to work together so that no one quits and every single participant finishes. As a naturally competitive person I was initially sceptical, I mean we were decked out in war paint and not to mention the amount of participants who looked more athletic than Conor McGregor. In my mind I was convinced that these people would treat this event as a cutthroat contest…but boy was I wrong.
Throughout the course there were many obstacles that could only be overcome with the help of my teammates and more importantly the other participants. For example, there was one particular hurdle called Everest. This was an enormous curved wall that you had to run up and it was extremely slippery. No matter how fast you ran up it, regardless of your physical strength, it was almost impossible to get to the top without help from others. As I ran at the wall myself, I was met by many hands that grasped on tight and pulled me to the top. I then returned the favour to someone else. It was very much a scenario where tasks were divided but the feeling of success was multiplied.
#2 You Can Always Depend On The Kindness Of Strangers
One of my favourite playwrights Tennessee Williams once wrote, through the character Blanche Dubois; “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers”. This quote resonates with many of my experiences throughout Tough Mudder, where I was helped and motivated by people I had never met before.
I am a very claustrophobic person and there was one specific obstacle which I thought that I would not be able to do. It was a dark tunnel that required you to squeeze through as it was heavily weighed down by water. As soon as I attempted it, I backed out just as quick. A man behind me was just as afraid of small spaces, but he was determined to get through it and encouraged me to do the same. He went first. When he got to the other side he motivated me all the way. When I found myself halfway through the tunnel I began to panic but little did I know that same stranger had crawled back through grabbing me by hands and pulling me through in one swift motion.
It felt amazing to face a fear but I owe a great deal to that stranger on the course who accompanied me through it.
#3 If You Don’t Throw Yourself into Something, You’ll Never Know What You Could Have Had
In the case of Though Mudder this is exactly true. As the name suggests there is a lot of mud…a lot!! The very first obstacle you meet on the course is a barbed wire net that you must crawl under through wet mud. Now you can try as hard as you want to stay clean at the beginning but by the end it is inevitable. So, just throw yourself into it, literally into the mud, from the very start, and you’ll be surprised how much more fun you will have! And don’t worry because you’ll clean off throughout the course when you enter various pools of water such as the ice bath!!
Much of the above appears to be just clichés but for those of you who know me well, you will be aware that my one of my favourite people Shay Carl Butler (businessman/entertainer/serial entrepreneur) always says that “the secrets to life are hidden behind the word cliché”. By definition a cliché is a phrase or opinion that is overused, and we are so used to hearing those little gems of advice that we almost become immune to its significance. We look for something more, we believe there must be some catch; it can’t be that simple can it? But it is.
So the actualities behind Tough Mudder might sound cliché but I stand by them. Tough Mudder is more than just a physical obstacle course. The truth is that it is a test of mental strength, overcoming fears, forming bonds, and working together to achieve something great. So with that in mind I would recommend this event to any group looking for a team building exercise or simply to anyone looking for an experience and feeling like no other.