Some call it sport. Some call it fun. Many call it sheer madness. Thousands of consenting adults leave their comfort zone behind to ‘enjoy’ a range of unusual obstacles, from swimming through crushed ice to leaping through flames, wading through liquid mud, scaling greased walls and running through a jungle of dangling wires that zap them with electric shocks.
If this extreme pursuit sounds daunting, fear not, it just takes a bit of mental strength and a willingness to give it a go.
So here’s why you could do a Tough Mudder…
It has been described as the ultimate challenge – an experience bringing the thrill of achievement and all the more rewarding if you happen to have been sponsored to complete the testing course.
Tough Mudder is based on Special Forces training – so if you are considering joining up you will certainly need to have a good level of fitness. Though organisers are adamant there’s no need to train three hours a day, give up your social life and consume protein shakes.
It’s definitely worth doing a little bit of preparation, but you don’t need to be a fitness fanatic to take on the course.
Taking part is what’s important and camaraderie among fellow participants is to be treasured more than finisher rankings. People who are new to Tough Mudder will find that Mudders (as competitors often call themselves) are more than willing to help each other out, be it a leg-up over a wall or someone picking you up when you fall.
It is a real wilderness adventure that takes an average of three-and-a-half hours to run, walk, crawl, climb and swim your way around. Many people take twice that and there is really no shame in taking longer than your friends to complete the course.
The bottom line is this is not a race to the finishing line but a test of endurance - both physical and mental.
In fact passionate participants will often chant "The Tough Mudder is not a race," as part of the ‘Tough Mudder Pledge’ taken in unison at the nerve-jangling start of each event. Competitors also vow to "overcome all fears" and not to “whine”.
With their distinctive headbands - and some even with permanent Tough Mudder tattoos – Mudders span all age groups and come in all shapes and sizes. So whatever your fitness level, you’ll be in good company.
People often discover that Tough Mudder is more mental than anything else and many people surprise themselves with how well they do!
The simple truth is anyone can do it. Unlike a marathon, for which months of training are essential, an obstacle race requires little athletic prowess. It hurts less if you’re fit, and you’ll go faster. But you don’t actually need a high level of fitness to crawl through a tunnel of liquid mud. You just have to be prepared to give it your all. Tough Mudder is really all about giving it 100 per cent effort and throwing yourself into every challenge you face.
And the delight, for many adults, is the liberating discovery that it can be great to have a chance to be a child again on a well-organised adult adventure playground crawling through the mud! Once you’re wet, you’re wet; once you’re filthy, you’re filthy.
As long as you embrace everything involved, a Tough Mudder isn't beyond anyone capabilities.
So, be brave… For all the pain, it can be muddy, good fun and richly rewarding.
Picture credit: Glynnis Jones / Shutterstock.com