Well, to start off, I have to say that I had a blast! This race was a ton of fun, and even though it took most people 3-6 hours, almost everyone finished with a huge smile on their face, great memories, and a feeling of accomplishment!
Does that mean that this is the “toughest event on the planet?”
Not even close…
It saddens me to say this, but the Tough Mudder Whistler June 23/12 was just not that tough of a challenge. I went into the race scared, nervous, excited, and admittedly intimidated. I came out of the race with great memories, lots of laughs, and a good workout. But, I don’t feel as though this event challenged me to the extent it promised.
I’m not a pro athlete, I’m not even an elite athlete. I didn’t train specifically for this race. I can’t do more than 2 pull-ups in a row. I’ve got a little junk in the trunk. I’m usually in the top 25% of females, and females in my age group in the races I run, but by no means am I considered a top athlete, and yet, I didn’t feel like this course was that hard?
There was lots of running, and most of the running was on un-even surfaces, logging roads, rolling hills, across logs, snow, ice, and through trees (hello trail running!), and this obviously helped as this is my specialty. I love trail running, and the more technical a trail, the more I love it! (single track trails with lots of roots, rocks, trees, etc to navigate are considered the most technical)
None of these trails were technical, and a few obstacles were just a more technical trail; the Cliffhanger was a short steep section of muddy trail, the Log Bog Jog was literally running over a section of logs laid out in a line, which weren’t wet or slippery, so really not that difficult of an obstacle.
The organizers were smart in using the terrain of the area as obstacles, but for the athletes who normally run/hike/bike/work-out outside, these can’t be considered real obstacles.
We started off with the Death March, which really wasn’t that terrible of a climb uphill, the Cliffhanger, and Log Bog Jog.
It was a blast to do the Kiss of Mud while spectators stood by and cheered us on!
It was also very cool to do the Artic Enema, which none of us had encountered anything like before. It was definitely cold, and definitely a shock to the system!
Next up, was the first set of Berlin Walls, which were cool to do, especially working as a team, but not exactly a challenging obstacle.
The Devil’s Beard was probably the easiest obstacle, it doesn’t even deserve a mention.
Bushwhacking was going through a section of woods. This is was a cool obstacle because there was a nice steep slope, but the section was so small, that the backlog of people made it so you were slowly walking/climbing down in a line of people.
At the bottom of Bushwhacking was this awesome “Hell Starts Here” sign which we had to get a group photo with :
Things had been pretty easy up to this point, but we thought maybe it was a nice warm-up, and this sign was a prediction of what was to come…
Not so much. What followed was a nice long run on logging type roads, through some puddles, around some rocks and snow. This was where our team got divided into 2 sub groups, which we continued with till the end of the race.
We went through the Boa Constrictor, 2 tunnels, 1 going slightly downhill, and 1 going slightly uphill. This was a harder obstacle for the larger participants who found moving in the constricting tube difficult. But, this was a far cry from the photo’s on the Mudder website, which show athletes going through tubes 3/4 filled with water.
We hit the alpine area of this course at this point, and came across Glacier, which was a cargo net across an ice face. This was one of the first obstacles we had to wait in line for, and it was just plain easy. The climb was only 10-12 feet up, and did nothing to test your strength or endurance.
We then ran some more…and of course as soon as I saw a photographer I smiled reallllll big! And got rewarded – our picture made the Tough Mudder Facebook Album
After more running, we came across the Snow Ramp, which was a snow/ice slide into Lake Callahan (I believe). Of course the rest of the lake, excluding the hole at the bottom of the slide was frozen over.
The line-up at this obstacle was HUGE. We positioned ourselves along the outside, and watched for the rest of our team to catch up. Our team did, and we motioned them to join us, but only Jay came up. The lines were moving so slowly, that we decided to slide down the side, and then jump into the lake and back out, instead of waiting for one of the middle spots.
After this we had to run through the snow and ice alongside the lake, and this was a super slippery section of the route. The thing was, there was minimal room, and again we ended up in lines of people, and doing more walking then running.
We came back out onto the logging roads, and continued on a rolling run. There was a big gap between obstacles at this point. We had 1 small obstacle that was a cargo net slung over the road, but it was only 5 feet high maybe, and was very easy to climb up and over.
We then came across the 2nd set of Berlin Walls, which were noticeable higher then the 1st set, and definitely intimidating.
Up and over we went, and back to running, again. This time though, we had some nice downhill sections to race down.
We then hit our first real section of mud, and it was deep (or so we thought), we had mud covering our shoes and half way up our calves. We climbed a small stack of ice, and came down the other side, I have no idea what this obstacle was called, it was super traffic jammed, and wasn’t at all difficult.
Next up was Log Jammin’ which was one of my fave obstacles, you had to go over and under a section of logs and barbed wire, which required strength and agility. This was a really fun section!
As we splashed through some puddles and came out into crowds lining the roads, we found that we were at mile 9, and almost finished, since the MC told us it was a 10 mile course, right?? WRONG!
We went through the Kiss of Mud 2, through the Electric Eel (no, I did not get shocked), both Jen & Cath felt small shocks on their arms going through this obstacle. We thought Everest, Funky Monkey, Electroshock Therapy, and the finish line were right around the corner.
But, it was Trench Warfare, which was crawling through tunnels built into an ice block, and then a water station where a very nice volunteer informed us that we had 5 obstacles and 3 kms to go!
We headed up a very steep hill (the same hill that skiiers use for their ski jumping practice). The nice volunteer had also warned us to make sure our shoes were tied tight..and she was right to say that!
We trudged through the thickest, highest, muckiest mud I have ever seen in my life. At times you would step into a spot that the mud went all the way up to your mid thigh!!
Most of us choose to walk slowly through the mud, a few brave souls decided to try and swim through…
We had a nice run downhill before coming out on the Hold Your Wood obstacle. The 5 of us decided to grab a big team log, which meant that Jay1 & Jay2 carried the brunt of the weight, as they were the tallest! Ooops.
Then we looked down, and set our eyes on Everest. The scariest obstacle of all. The obstacle that I questioned whether I could do it.
This obstacle lived up to it’s name and hype. The line-up here was at least 30 minutes long, which wasn’t very fun because we got very cold, but we got to watch about 1000 people attempt to get to the top of Everest.
This obstacle really showcases the teamwork not only in teams, but also in randoms just helping others out. I was personally
helped up pulled up, by a few randoms, and I appreciated their help so much! It was so cool to make it to the top and accomplish that! All 5 of us made it up, and we were off to finish the course!
Next up was Funky Monkey which was the only obstacle I did not complete fully. I am not able to do monkey bars, so I chose to swim across the pit. Jay and Derek were the only ones in our group to make it fully across – nice work boys!!
Just a quick run up the hill, and we were at our last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy, which did not sting any of us! We were kind of disappointed as we didn’t talk to anyone who was shocked, or see any shocking for ourselves. We wondered if the obstacle was even turned on…
We enjoyed our beers at the finish, and headed off to find some dry clothes! We changed, using the amazing Chawel, which we even lent out to other Mudders, who loved it.
Our after shots :
What was awesome about this race?
- The announcer at the beginning was amazing, he was motivational, he was entertaining, and he really set the mood!
- The teamwork and camaraderie that is displayed is really touching
- The event works with Wounded Warriers, and even though it is a US based company, when in Canada, the proceeds go to the Canadian charity.
- The t-shirts & headband are pretty nice swag
- The Whistler location is a great venue for this sort of race, and showcases our beautiful province for out of towners, and gives everyone a reason to travel to the race!
- Costumes are promoted and encouraged
- Shuttle was free, and there were lots (at the time we went to the pick-up area ~8am)
- The sheer amount of mud!
- It was a blast! SO much fun!
What could have used some work to make this event MORE awesome?
- Parking fees being included in registration for participants – doesn’t make sense if the shuttle is free but the parking isn’t. Shuttles cost money, and for the participants not using the shuttle, they have to pay double basically?
- More options at aid stations – there were few aid stations (I think 4) and the only options were water and sometimes bananas. There were Sharkies at 1 aid station, but they ran out before we got there (and we only started at 10am)
- More food/aid options at the finish. Most races provide a selection of post race foods – ie bagels, peanut butter, cookies, oranges, bananas, juice boxes, coffee, sometimes even soup! There was only water, bananas, and chocolate protein bars at the finish, and of course your 1 free beer.
- More than 1 merchandise booth, and more merchandise, and possibly online purchases – by the time we were finished, almost everything was sold out, and we thought clothing could be bought online, but it can’t! (There are a few UA shirts that can be bought, but none of the cute stuff that was at the event)
- Better logistics for the start line & parking/shuttle bus area. It was approx a 2 km walk both in and out of the event, which for an older spectator, or an injured participant is a bit too difficult.
- Better bibs – maybe some sort of tape on bib instead of safety pins which were ripped out of shirts during obstacles
- Harder obstacles!!! I’ve been in shorter obstacle courses which have had much harder obstacles – I believe people want to be challenged, and not be able to do absolutely everything on the first try.
- Earlier start times/smaller waves. The obstacle line-ups were just huge, and if it had been an ugly day, it would not have been a fun experience to stand around in the cold/wet, just waiting.
- More music on the course.
- An accurate distance beforehand – the MC told us 10 miles, when in reality it was at least 12 miles!
- An email warning about the deadline to change registrations – the deadline is much earlier than most races, and a lot of people make mistakes without realizing it, until the start times were sent out.
- Not running out of headbands. We got ours, but other participants didn’t later on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday morning. I hope these participants are mailed headbands as promised.
Overall, it was a super fun, new, different event to participate in, and I’m definitely glad I did it! I just didn’t feel that the advertising is in fact accurate, and that it’s much easier of a course then the hype. The hardest part of the course is the endurance to run that long, whereas, the obstacles should be the star of this course!