Tough Mudder

Why did I think this was a good idea?

I asked myself this same question half-way up the Manitou Incline and I asked myself this same question half-way through the Tough Mudder.

The Tough Mudder (for those few who don’t know what it is) is a 10 mile race on rough terrain through an obstacle course.  And the obstacles are not for the faint of heart.

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I purposely did not look at the obstacles again before I left because I didn’t want to know.

Let’s examine some now.

The Arctic Enema.  Jumping into a tank full of ice water, dunking under water, and swimming to the other side.  Why not?

This isn’t even the sadistic part.

The sadistic part is before this you had to carry a 35 lb of ice 100 yards and then dump it in the tank.

“So we’re carrying our own torture devices?”

“That’s right.”

Images of crucifixion come to mind.

This was horrible.  This was so bad.  It lasted maybe 30 seconds but once you get out you can’t feel any part of your body.  You just carry on, mute, hoping you are following the right path.

Everest.

Infamous amongst Tough Mudders.

You’ve seen the pictures.  People forming human chains to get up it.  Helping each other.  The ultimate picture of camaraderie.

Well, now picture facing Everest ALONE.

I’m not kidding here.

Unbeknownst to me, I had signed up for the TOUGHEST MUDDER, for seasoned Mudders who travel all over the country doing these crazy courses most weekends.

All I knew was I was signing up to be timed.  That’s it.

Well, since I signed up for this, we started first on the course.  So there was hardly anyone in front of me.  Now, you all know I’m a runner and this course was a lot of running so I was by myself a lot of the time.  Something you don’t want to be at the obstacles.

So here I am, facing this huge wall of white.  Well, I just run at it.  Thanks to CrossFit, the rope climb was no problem.  But I get stuck at the top.  The rope hangs over a lip and you have to throw  your foot up over the side (which would have been great information to have had when I had momentum).

Here I am, clinging to the side of the wall, stuck.  And I clung there for probably about 2 minutes, waiting for the 2 volunteers to help me up.  They grabbed my foot and I got up.  Barely.

Augustus Gloop.  Another obstacle with water.  Not again!  You go under water, climb up a ladder all while running water is dripping on top of you.  I can’t see a thing cause this is no drip-drop.  It’s sheer running water.  It sucks.

The Funky Monkey Revolution.  All I know is there are monkey bars and water below.  I tell myself, “I am NOT falling into that water.”  That’s the last thing I want–is to get wet again.  So, thanks to CrossFit, I cross this obstacle all the way–slowly, very slowly–and ungracefully.  Apparently, I’m the first woman to do so all day they tell me.  Water was the motivator here.

Overall, I had a great time except for the being wet the entire time part.  At the beginning of the day, it was cold.  I was shivering before we even started.  We got wet right away and I was miserable.  The sun didn’t come out until 1 hour into the course.  It sucked.

Then right when I dried off, Arctic Enema.  Then 2 more waters in a row.  I was done.  I was sopping wet and it all sucked.

If I’m going to torture my body, I think I’d rather enjoy it.

Take aways from the Mudder:

  1. Never again am I purposely submerging myself in 20 degree cold water.
  2. The bruises hurt more as the days pass.
  3. Don’t forget sunglasses again!
  4. Snacks and gloves are useless when wet.
  5. The key is to never stop for more than a minute break.  Just keep moving.
  6. Comfort yourself with Starbucks.  It never fails.
  7. The end is the best part:  See.  I’m even smiling!

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The Manitou Incline

On Father’s Day two weeks ago, my kids and I hiked the Manitou Incline.

The Manitou Incline is located in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and has become known as one of the toughest climbs in the United States.  It’s one mile straight up, climbing railroad ties.  It was built in 1907 for the purpose of providing access to water tanks at the top of the mountain that would provide gravity-fed water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.  Originally, the railroad was constructed to access the hydroelectric plant and service the water pipes, but shortly after its construction, the railway was opened as a tourist attraction.

You ascend over 2000 feet and hike 2744 steps to the top.  It affords magnificent views of Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, and Pikes Peak.

We arrive at 8:30 am after driving for 2 1/2 hours.  After parking and hiking up to the start, it’s 8:50 am when we start.  The trail is already busy.  We start slowly and take breaks.  The morning sun affords pockets of shade on the trail, and we take full advantage of those.  Half way up I look over to my kids and ask, “Why did I want to do this again?”
It was tough but not unmanageable.  Sweat is pouring down, but I just concentrate on taking one step at a time.

We reach the summit in just under 1 hour.  We rest, take in the view, then hike down Barr Trail, a 3-mile switchback to the bottom in another hour and a half.

My son, who is 9, was the youngest one on the trail.  However, there were definitely a fair amount of seniors making the trek.

Despite its reputation, the Manitou Incline is a hike for everyone, barring health/medical reasons and a reasonable amount of fitness.  Families, friends, and individuals dotted the trail.  There is no better bonding adventure than a strenuous task accomplished together.  If needed, there is a bail-out point half-way up that merges with the Barr Trail.  I would encourage anyone seeking a challenge, a great outing as a family, a place in the outdoors, and a check mark on the bucket list to give it a go.  You won’t be sorry once you reach the top!