Some experiments and thoughts on all things from Mitchell Simoens

Tough Mudder 2015 - Gulf Coast

11 min read

Last year, I decided to set some goals for myself (read more). I decided to sign up for several Tough Mudders throughout the year in order to push my health, I need goals and deadlines and nothing matches signing up for something and paying cold, hard earned cash to motivate you.

This last weekend was the first Tough Mudder of the 2015 season and I was excited. I ran a Warrior Dash (5K OCR) a month ago and to be honest, I didn't do as well as I wish I would have. The reason, I didn't workout for nearly 2 months over the winter! But since mid-January I was in cardio mode getting my mileage back up. I found a nearby trail that is a mile loop and even has a very good sized hill. I average about 11 minute miles which I'm fine with. I don't need to be faster, I just need to make 8 mile trainings easier. Found another trail but I decided I don't like being within 20 feet of these guys. Yes, that's an actual picture taken from my phone, first ran by them and was 10 feet away and scared the crap out of me. You would have laughed at me jumping away at first sight. Not sure if I screamed like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert but I sure as hell did internally. :)

Tough Mudder announced some new obstacles and improvements to current ones. I'll tell you about my experience with some of the new ones in a minute. If you want to see their promo video:

The Day

Link to course map here.

I booked a hotel that was just a mile away. To warm up, I almost just ran the mile but didn't want to get carried away with it. I got there at 9am and got signed in, registered for the legion (Tough Mudder thinks I've done 8 mudders, I corrected them) and dropped by bag off. Got to the start area where they had an MC I hadn't seen before but once he was done doing his warmup talk they told us to go to the warm up area. This is where you climb a wall to get into the real start line and lucky enough, the man himself, Sean Corvelle was the MC! Love that guy! HOORAH! (he doesn't actually say "OOH-RAH", he doesn't feel like he should as he isn't or has not served in the military).

First 3.5 miles were mostly running, Kiss of Mud and Birth Canal were conquered without any issue. Birth Canal is new and the water on top of you was surprisingly heavy at the end but nothing bad.

The next obstacle was the improved Funky Monkey 2.0. The old Funky Monkey was just an inclined and declined ladder. The new Funky Money added a trapeze grab in the middle that swung so you can transfer to the declined pipe. Getting to the Funky Monkey obstacle was the biggest gripe I have about the Tough Mudder, I waited in line for over an hour, no joke! There are two issues with this obstacle: only have 5 stations (they need to double this) and people getting stuck on the trapeze and don't want to give up took up a bunch of time. I don't mind them not wanting to give up, I wouldn't. Females had a lot of trouble with this obstacle as it does require a lot of upper body strength (shoulders and gripe strength is what I felt). I was intimidated by the transition from the trapeze to the pipe but I handled it with ease luckily. Keep one hand on the ladder and the other on the trapeze and start swinging before letting go to get momentum to grab the bar with the loose hand. Besides the hour wait, this was lot of fun!

After finishing the Funky Monkey I was behind these two girls, one made it through, the other got the water. Oh, by the way, the water was freezing! She was complaining that it's cold until I reminder her that Arctic Enema 2.0 was next. This is the ice bath and the improvement was you slide down into the ice and wade through ice. You have to climb over a wall and then wade through more before you're out. This is always a complete system shock.

The next obstacle was The Liberator which is brand new for 2015. This is where you walk up an inclined wall using wooden pegs. I quickly deciphered what to do but seems people were having a hard time so I started barking orders. I know, probably not the best way to come off but it was to help. You get two wooden pegs and there are two stationary metal ones at the top. At the top there is a slot to put the wooden pegs and they fall to the bottom. So use the wooden ones till you can reach the metal ones. Take one wooden peg and drop it in the slot. The person behind you takes the peg you dropped and puts it so you can stand on it so that you can then deposit the other one and push off with your leg to get ahold of the top so you can lift yourself up.

Same thing with Beached Whale which was next obstacle and also new to 2015. One person puts hands down or their knee so someone can get a good jump to get on top of the inflatable. Once on top you spin around and throw a hand down to help the next person. Team work people!

Next few obstacles were Skidmarked, Warrior Carry and Tube Hurdles. Nothing big but the Warrior Carry was through chest deep water which added a degree of difficultly since you can't see what you're stepping on or if it's a hole to China.

Next up was another new obstacle, Balls Out. This new one was an A frame (one side had plexiglass which was harder and the side I attempted) and you tried to grab ropes that were spaced out, thankfully I have long arms. The difficulty here was coordinating everything but the trick seemed to keep your feet as planted on the wall as possible so you have full gripe or else you'd just slide down. So pray your gripe strength in your hands hold up as you move back and forth reaching for the next rope. And like the Funky Monkey, this had a long line and was there for about 30-45 minutes, ugh!

Then it was a long run to Everest 2.0. Everest has always been intimidating to me so when I heard they improved it by getting rid of the edge in favor of a rounded edge so you can't grab it and pull yourself up and it was taller, I was worried, I won't even lie. I thought the rounded edge was just in sections as it shows in the video/pictures but no, it's the entire length. So I grabbed a quick breath and ran my ass up it. Luckily there were two hands thrown down to help me, team work! So I relieved one of them and threw my hand down to the next person. I did see some people run up without any help, good for them!

Little run to the next obstacle that my friend Arthur Kay has been vocal to not liking obstacles like this: Cry Baby (kind of ironic huh Art? :P). This obstacle is going through a tent filled with "tear gas". It's not tall so you have to bear crawl through and go over a little wall. When I heard tear gas, I instantly knew it wasn't going to be the same tear gas that police and military use, that'd kill the rest of the run. So I bear crawled through and about 2/3s the way through I started to choke on it because it was a bit thick. It tasted and smelled very menthol, it was like a very strong Vicks VapoRub. Benefit after this, my sinuses were extremely clear! Back to running!

Next obstacle was the Mud Mile 2.0 and Rope Climb. So the Mud Mile did have deeper mud but that wasn't the hard part here. The hard part is the type of soil we have in Florida, it's very sandy. Through the whole course, the soil was very sandy and in spots it was loose sand which makes running quite difficult. Where the Mud Mile was, it was this giant what looked to be old strip mine. It was 1.5 miles of 10 (or so) loose sand hills in this giant hole in the ground. This is where my time dropped quite a bit and some good charlie horses came on.

Getting the hell out of there was Pole Dancer and King of the Swingers. Pole Dancer wasn't hard past times I've done it but my arms were shot and at the very end my arms gave out and down I went. I caught myself by it felt like I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. Then I get to King of the Swingers and you climb up (which it seemed much higher in person than in the video, not sure if it is higher up in person but it seemed like you were on the 3rd floor of a building), jump and catch a bar, it swings up and you try to hit a bell and then fall in some water. There used to be an obstacle where you just jump off a platform so this seems like an updated version with the swinging. Hitting the bell isn't easy either. You have to pull yourself up while you are swinging so you get some extra lateral momentum. I also saw people doing flips and such off this thing. It was hell of a lot of fun. I usually don't do the best with heights but I didn't hesitate and just went for it!

The last obstacle was Electroshock Therapy 2.0 but first I went through the Legionnaires Loop which for this one was Dead Ringer. I will admit, I fell many times. My arms were shot at this point! The Electroshock Therapy was last thing. There was a little line but was only like 10 people. With no clouds in the sky, I was ok with a few people going before me however, right before I went a guy got a charlie horse trying to go over the first hay bale wall and laid on top of it. It took a few seconds for the medic to get to the kill switch as the guy laid there getting shocked. You can hear the pop and see the guy jerk as he got shocked, poor dude! I ran through it with no real problems, got hit 4 times.

Then the finish line! I made it. Went to get my blue head band and did the Fire in your Hole obstacle that was in the Mudder Village. This was a big water slide through some flames (flames never touch you) and it was just for fun and a good cleaning.

So all in all, I was worried about mylack of training but until that hold in the ground where the Mud Mile was I did very great, I impressed myself there. The sun got to me, my head has a hell of a sun burn but I also recorded my fastest Mudder at 2.5 hours for 11.41 miles (link to Endomondo recording). And had to drive home for 4 hours right after which was not a good idea.


Next up is the Chicago Mudder in May which is 2 months away and am doing it with Arthur Kay and Jay Garcia. I need to keep my running up but I can limit it to 8 miles but just want to make that 8 miles easier. I also need to work on gripe strength and shoulders. Will be a Mudder machine then! I think 2 hours flat is possible but that will be very tough and doing it with Art and Jay, I won't try to go my fastest. I'll do Chicago to complete it with my friends even if I feel it's slow I'd rather finish with them. There is a Mudder in Tennessee the week after that I can go for gold.

Written by Mitchell Simoens who is a long time nerd developing software and building computers and gadgets. Anything expressed on this website are Mitchell Simoens's alone and do not represent his employer.
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