This year I ran in the Tough Mudder at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula, the same location as the Super Spartan Race just 11 miles instead of 8. I was worried that the course would be very similar but luckily it was not. I arrived in the morning, paid my $10 to park, and was on my way. The set-up and check in was very easy and I was ready to race with thirty minutes to spare. This year they set up a wall climb on the way to the start line which was funny because a lot of people struggled significantly with that initial wall. They were in for a very tough time. As the announcer got us ready he let us in on a little secret; this year there would be not one, not two, but three electric shock areas. Awesome.
The race got underway basically running backwards from the end of the Super Spartan. A few obstacles and a few miles later we were facing the first barbed wire crawl. As I looked at the challenge I noticed that it was really low and shifted uphill at the end. Then as I started my crawl I realized that there were wires hanging from the metal barbs. After listening to my fellow mudders cry out in pain it became clear, we were crawling through our first electric shock therapy. I proceeded to get as low as possible and managed to stay under all the wires, that is until the uphill climb. At the second to last wire I was shocked, right on the butt, and my got it hurt. Actually, it burned, and hurt for about a half hour; I think they cranked up the voltage on this one.
Training for the marathon and experience really paid off. I was making good time and owning the obstacles I couldn’t complete last year. I was able to spring up and hoist myself over the twelve foot walls with very little trouble where last year I had to use the side planks and teamwork. I was feeling good, but my big challenge loomed ahead, the butter covered monkey bar steps. These were about two dozen butter covered bars with half going up and then the other half going back down as you make your way across the water. Last year I swung too much and slipped off as I made my way down to the last two bars. This year I was determined to finish and was careful to keep my legs under me. As I powered through I watched people falling all around me but this was going to happen. Slowly but surely I pressed on and jumped off at the end dry and proud!
The feeling didn’t last long though as I made it to the arctic chill. A ten foot tall container filled with ice water with a plank in the middle you had to go under. The first part was not so bad but then I went under. The second half was almost entirely ice and really hard to push through. Upon resurfacing I came up and was completely disoriented and my limbs did not want to work. It took a person at the end to yell back at me to shake off the cobwebs. My god that was cold, but it felt good once I got out. We then marched up to “Walk the Plank” where I jumped off the twenty foot platform into the muddy water below.
The next few miles for rolling hill and a few tunnel climbs leading up to the log carry and then the mystery obstacle. Apparently watching two hours of Ninja Warrior each day pays dividends! The mystery obstacle was an easier replica of the spider crawl that I have seen hundreds of times. As the other mudders were trying to figure it out I flew across with perfect form. Hurrah for TV watching justification! As we neared the end we hit the best obstacle, the slip and slide. This was a long wet slide on plastic down a hill and into water. I loved this one last year and threw myself down the hill head first.
After heading into the lake and under some tubing I reached the halfpipe or as Ninja Warrior calls is the warped wall. I sprinted up the halfpipe wall, jumped to reach the top, and grabbed on with my finger tips! I thought I was up but my arms had had enough and I could no longer pull myself up. I almost lost it but at the last minute a fellow mudder reached down, grabbed on, and hoisted me up and over. With that obstacle behind me I made it to the final electrocution, the second was also paired with another obstacle but it was almost impossible to be shocked and not worth a report. After taking a breather and focusing on the finish line, I sprinted through the hanging wires. Almost at the end and a few light shocks in, one wire lit me up on the inside of my thigh. That hurt, a lot, and I stumbled down to my knees. With a desperate crawl I made it through, stood up, and finished strong! With a great time of 2:32 and a my free beer changed and headed home victorious.
The Tough Mudder in Vail Lake was fun but I missed the mountain challenge of the one in Big Bear. Next year I will go back to that one in June. This race was definitely easier than the Super Spartan even with an extra three miles but the obstacles were a whole lot more fun. I have two major complaints that I wish they would change (Though I doubt they will). First, they charge $20 for a spectator to come and watch which is ridiculous. Basically, the spectators are paying to sit on a bench for three to four hours because they can’t get into the race to cheer you on. I really don’t understand the charge and I think it is just greed but I feel like they would make more money if the would let visitors in for free and charge more for food, drinks, and apparel. As someone who does these alone, it is really frustrating that I’d have to pay $20 for Virginia to come just to take start and finish pictures of me.
My second issue kind of goes alone with the first. This year they took almost no pictures of individual participants. Last year I was able to get a few and search by my bib number but this year they went to make money in a weird way. At a handful of spots alone the race they had photographers staged to take pictures. The issue was that they didn’t take pictures of everyone, only a select few. They also then gave you a card that you would need to keep to find your pictures online. That was just ridiculous, what the hell am I going to do with a paper card when I am in the middle of a race. Stupid! I didn’t get one picture taken, so my race is undocumented. And, since Virginia wasn’t there because of their outrageous spectator fee, I have zero photos of the entire event.
If they would fix those two issues, this would be a flawless race but they wont because in the end it is all about making money. Oh well, I will definitely run it again, I will just bring a disposable camera and bother fellow mudders to take my picture. Next stop, Tough Mudder Seattle with by brother in August!