How much fun was the Tough Mudder?!
Think of your funnest day ever, then put it at 8,000 feet above sea-level and spray water cannons at it and make it a bluebird day and have about 3,000 athletic, ridiculously good-looking be-costumed guys and gals (and if you’re a gal, there’s way more guys, so BONUS FUN!) and add free beer too, and a lot of purchased beer later, and you have yourself a Top Ten Funnest Weekend of All Time. Oh my holy stars did we have a blast! (Except for one rolled ankle, the loss of three of everything – clothes, shoes, gloves, socks, and uniform shirts – and almost hitting a deer on the drive up. But the generous amount of fun and constant laughter kept our attitudes soaring above pain or fear and hatred of thieves and/or over-zealous janitors.)
In the spring I proposed this crazy idea to a group of good friends, all of whom had had particularly rough patches ranging from financial insolvency to break-ups to life threatening illnesses in parents and scariest of all, kids. The group that came together was smaller than we started with, but all were there in spirit, the four standing Mud Hunnies carrying the challenge for the rest. This was one of those experiences where my intentions for the event and the outcome I envisioned were in perfect synchronicity. I marveled at the absence of struggle over the logistical minutiae: food was bought, recipes planned, shirts designed and decorated, housing secured, the bigger car was available. It all just fell into place!
So off we went to Bear Valley, the Land That Time Forgot, or perhaps, just the inspiration for the ski village in “Hot Tub Time Machine.” To get to Bear Valley, we had to travel through Copperopolis (“I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel…”). Yes, it is a real place, but seems like it might be inhabited by pod people who sell ice cream cones, lottery tickets, and expound on the copper mining history of their “town.” We left peel-out marks for fear they’d start eating our brains, or worse, our totally rock-solid quads which we really needed for all the climbing in store.
The event itself was, in a word, hellacool. (With the exception of Lost & Found, it was also very well organized: I asked a Forest Ranger what he thought and he said that in 30 years with the Forest Service he had never seen such a well-run event. You go Tough Mudder!) Once we got signed in and took turns writing our bib numbers on our foreheads in permanent black marker (we are so badass), we headed to the start area with our wave. They spaced out the waves by 15 minute increments so that there would be less chance of back-ups at the obstacle stations. After some opening ceremonies with the national anthem (yes, I CRIED), the Tough Mudder Pledge, some bagpipes (yes, I CRIED, those fuckers should be illegal, there is a direct line from the pipes’ wail to my tear ducts), handshakes and hugs, and lots of pump-you-up shouting, we were off!
From then on, we were confronted with hills up and hills down, mostly very steep, and every ½ mile or so, another obstacle. They ranged from belly crawling under wires to high-knees through tires, to climbing over giant charley-horses with the help of your team and others, to schelping a large piece of wood along a path, to being submerged in FAH-reezing cold water TWICE. And some other muddy stuff too. The hikes were the physically hardest of the course for sure. My teammates all said afterwards, with full bellies and beers in hand, that the course was not nearly as challenging as they had expected. I on the other hand kept having that perfection of synchronicity between intention, expectation and outcome. The course was just as hard as I needed it to be and as fun if not funner (!) than I imagined. And I imagined some seriously good fun! We decided it was a most excellent social event and that we are coming back for more next year.
We were THE VERY LAST CAR to leave the parking lot that afternoon. (Until we were the last to leave the bar back at the condo village that night.)
We are SO awesome.