From the euphoria of conquering Everest to the muck in the bowels of the mud pit, one thing the Tough Mudder course never does is let up. My intrepid team of Mudder’s had barely set our feet on solid ground when the trek to the next challenge began.
My son and I ran point. My sister and cousin trod in our footprints, a half-mile up a gentle incline. But nothing about the Mudder is gentle. This slope was covered in soft, dry sand. Better to muscle through and rest at the top than to break our pace and breathe easy.
Another mile and three more obstacles down the winding trail, we saw it. The Mudder’s namesake. The Mud Mile. All this time we had been gradually ascending. Now the Mudder would throw us into a pit of Hell. Down another winding trail with no place to stand but loose, red dirt.
We kept our feet moving. To rest was to tumble through the legs of the Mudders ahead of us. Up one pile of freshly dug dirt, and down another until we reached the canyon floor.
If the Mud Mile were simply mud, what would be the challenge? Water, thick as pancake batter met us first. First to our ankles, then above our knees, but that is for kids. The batter reached our chests as our legs sank past our knees in soft, squishy muck. Then it was over slick clay walls nearly as tall as we were. Not one, but three per mud pit.
Then out of the pit and across more loose dirt and sand. It clung to our clothes and caked inside our shoes. We repeated this ritual for a mile, maybe more with nothing but belly-crawls through loose sand as an interlude.
When it came to an end, we had to leave the pit, but not on the same winding trail we had entered. No, Mudders climb out, on ropes. We scaled the walls, many pounds heavier than when we entered the pit thanks to the red clay, mud, and sand in our shoes, shorts, and hair.
We had survived the toughest, nastiest obstacles the Mudder could throw at us. We simply had a mile sprint to the finish. Our months of training paid off. While other teams gasped for air, we trotted past them grinning ear to ear. The finish line lay just ahead, and so did the bright orange headbands that would crown us as official Tough Mudders.