It seems to have come round really quickly this time, but lets face it, a week is a long time in politics, but not in the land of Tough Mudder!!!
Exactly a week after the German Tough Mudder, I've got the North West Event. For me, this is a big test. Have I got the stamina to get another 12 miles under my belt, in such a short space of time…
To make things even more complicated, I was persuaded to take part in a 6.4 Km fun run in the city of Hannover during the middle of the week between the two Tough Mudders. I didn't do this run on my own, another 7,000 people also took part. It was good fun, as I've never actually taken part in a fun run before, but I did question the wisdom of it at the time…
Regardless of that, I was now standing at the start of the third Tough Mudder of May. It's fair to say that most people have never done three Tough Mudder events in their lives and here I am doing three in a single month…
I bumped into the marketing director of Tough Mudder HQ, John Fidoe, as I was getting ready near the entrance. (This is becoming a habit!) Unlike his German colleague, John's assessment of the course was warmly welcomed. It's mostly flat, but with plenty of mud and water. In fact the surprise obstacle is a water obstacle that you have to climb up a pipe to then drop yourself of and into the water. Double bonus for me then, I love the water and, after the Arnsberg hills in the German forest, I was looking forward to fewer of them.
The wall at the start of every Tough Mudder is definitely different in the UK to the German obstacle. It's only around 15 cm smaller, but seems a lot easier to get over.
At the starting ceremony, there's a part where the Legionnaires (those who have completed one before) get to stand up in front of the newbies (or rather they take a knee) and get congratulated for passing into the club. The more you've completed the longer you stand. I'm slowly getting to stand for longer, but there's always someone who's completed more than you! This time, one chap had completed 25 Tough Mudders and had the black headband, with the embroided 25 logo to prove it! Well done him, I'm 22 Tough Mudders away from that accolade, but Ten Tough Mudders is my goal for 2015 and that's where my focus is.
Safety briefing over and we're off!
The first 800 metres to a hay bale obstacle is a gentle uphill affair, but I do notice almost immediately that my legs are incredibly heavy and tight. I manage a mile running but already my legs are out of sorts and my lungs are on fire. This doesn't bode well for the other 11 miles of so, but I realise that two Tough Mudders and the fun run as well are not a good recipe for someone of my fitness level. Within two miles there are a couple of water obstacles, one is a particular good one, which is a swamp based obstacle where the water is about chest deep. It feels cold, but I know that the Arctic Enema is the really bloody cold and anything else will feel luxurious in comparison.
We seem to be running on either uneven farm land or flat (ish) concrete farm track. Not good enough to be called a road really, but the issue isn't the quality of the highway, it's my choice of footwear. My Innov8 Mud Claws are suited to the soft, muddy and waterlogged courses that I'm used to. This harsh, hard and never ending concrete surfaces seem to be pushing the rubber 'spikes' back into the soles of my feet. This coupled with the issue that I seem to have zero levels of energy aren't exactly what I need to haul my lard arse around this course.
Luckily there seems to be regular Volvic water stops with the 9Bar energy bars, they are a welcome distraction from the long slog and sore feet that I've become used to. Just before I get to the first section of the Mud Mile (they two are the same section, about 3 or 4 miles apart) I twist my right ankle when I wasn't looking where I was going for about 30 seconds. Shit that really hurts, but after about 30 seconds of running the main pain seems to be subsiding and I just keep going. After all, I'm only around half done and I've got another 6 miles left.