European Toughest Mudder 2017 recap (My first ever blog post!)
A little bit about me before I get down to the nitty-gritty. I’m an ex-Muay Thai fighter and current Muay Thai, Movement/strength/conditioning and OCR coach (as well as being a Mechanical Engineer by day but I won’t bore you with that!) After a Muay Thai career ending injury, I really missed the life-altering and mind focusing buzz of pre-fight training and just working out for fun didn’t really cut it…and then I found Obstacle Course Racing (OCR).
I will cover more background detail in future posts, but for now, here are some takeaways from last weekend’s first ever European Toughest Mudder which was an 8 hour, night-time (00:00 - 08:00) obstacle race that took place in the grounds of Belvoir Castle, England. The Toughest races are a new, and very welcome addition to the Tough Mudder series, as previously there was a massive gap between the non-competitive standard Tough Mudder, to the flagship, 24 hour World’s Toughest Mudder.
This was my first Toughest or night-time event and these are some things I would have done differently that may help people preparing for their first Toughest.
1. Have a time schedule in mind on when you need to be starting each lap for various mileage goals – don’t just run and hope for the best like I did!
I achieved my minimum goal of 25miles (official miles, GPS said 34!), but with very little extra effort and better planning I could have reached 30miles. The only thing I set in my head beforehand was that I needed to be out on my last lap by 07:30 but I didn’t finish my 5th lap until 07:37. I now regret not keeping going but at the time didn’t I didn’t see the point of starting a lap by the 07:45 cut-off as it wouldn’t of counted towards mileage (plus nature called for the first time which trumped all logic and reason!)
2. Increase finger strength in realistic wet/muddy conditions.
In previous Tough Mudder and Spartan races I rarely had any problems with dynamic swinging obstacles such as monkey bars or rings, and would say I have decent “gym” grip strength, however…I failed the Funky Monkey and Kong every single time in ETM! Certainly the cold affected the feel/sensitivity of the hands but didn’t expect that which resulted in a lot of penalty miles.
3. Wear a wetsuit-type hat for Artic Enema and from the start.
I didn’t wear it for the first 2 or 3 laps, but it certainly resisted the brain freeze during the last 2 laps.
4. A fast walk is quicker than a slow jog!
On my last lap I was jogging slowly up a slight incline and to my surprise, 2 ladies walked past me! I immediately started walking and had a nice chat with them and from that point forth, I ran when I could and walked quickly when I couldn’t therefore saving a lot of energy.
Some things that I did do right that may be beneficial to others:
1. Have a variety of naturals food to eat (I don’t use gels etc.).
2. Drink coconut water with added salt to resist against cramping.
3. Have fun and help others out. Especially on Everest as I saw a few people being assisted then running off without helping the next person below - don’t be that guy/girl!
4. Have a brilliant pit crew that wants to be there like ours was. For example, don’t just rope in your partner and expect it to work!
Overall, a very well organised event by TM with only one minor improvement suggestion of posting the race information with kit requirements a lot earlier than they did.
A massive thanks to Sara, Dean and Jake for being a fantastic pit crew, my teammates Nicola who almost battled out 30 miles and Sarah for sticking at it without a care in world after a bad spill on Everest – Warriors! Scottish and Irish spirit at its best.