We did it! My kids did their first Mini-Mudder and I completed my first Tough Mudder Classic on Father’s Day at Koenig Sand & Gravel in Oxford, Michigan. Even though they couldn’t be in the exact same event as me, I was stoked to be able to share this experience with them!
I haven’t done that many races or events in the past. I’ve been a team captain and/or helped out with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure since its inaugural event in our area in 2013. I did a Warrior Dash 5k back in 2016 with a couple of people from our Navy Reserve unit and had a blast. Even back then we talked about doing a Tough Mudder, but it never worked out. I brought it up again this year and we had a handful of people that wanted to do it, more than I expected for an 8-10 mile event. Unfortunately, as time went on, it ended up being just me.
I was talking about it with my family and the kids perked up. They wanted to know more about it. We watched a number of videos of other events and the various obstacles. Then I started looking at the age requirements for the 5k but my kids were both too young, my oldest being 12.
After doing a little more searching, I discovered Mini-Mudders. These are a 1-mile course for kids 5-12. Perfect! We signed them both up. O was beyond stoked. We have a whiteboard calendar in the kitchen with things for the month. She would look at that board every day for weeks to see how many days were left until the event.
What is a Tough Mudder Classic?
Epic is an understatement. We’re pulling out all the stops for this return to our badass roots making 2019 a season to remember. Tough Mudder Classic is one 8-10 mile loop of mud-soaked mayhem loaded with 25 best-in-class obstacles, including 10 new or updated 2019 obstacles on Every. Single. Course. That’s right – double-digit innovation and more obstacles than ever, for maximum limit-testing. This is is your chance to get outside your comfort zone, discover what you’re made of, and cross that finish line stronger than you started.ToughMudder.com
I didn’t train much for this. But that comes with a disclaimer. I didn’t train specifically for this. I’m a runner that usually runs a couple of times a week for distances of anywhere from 3-10 miles.
Tough Mudder Michigan was held in Oxford. This was over 150 miles away and a 2-1/2 hour trip for us. My event started at 9:30 AM and they recommend getting there an hour early. We packed everything up the night before and left the house a little before 6:00 AM.
Like many places across the country, it’s been raining a lot lately. It was no different on the day of the event. It rained off and on most of the way there. It never came down too hard during the event, but it was at least sprinkling most of the time. I heard some people talking that weren’t happy about it. Maybe it was because it was my first event, but I was stoked. That meant more mud and that’s why we were there!
As we waited in the loading zone ready to get started, it seemed like the majority of people were there with a group or at least one other person. Other individuals and I were definitely in the minority as solo participants.
There was music playing and a guy with a microphone pumping everyone up as we waited for our heat to begin. After doing some jumping around and getting warmed up, we got the show started.
As I turned the first corner, Julie and the kids were there cheering me on. I couldn’t wait for the first obstacle!
A couple of miles in we came to Lumberjacked, an obstacle where you have to jump over a couple of logs that are above the ground. A guy gave me a boost over the first one and I used that as motivation to get over the second on my own. Note to self: work on vertical jump.
Everest was a bit of a challenge. It took a couple of attempts to make it to the top but I wasn’t giving up. It didn’t feel good to slide back down, but I was determined to make it. Next year I want to get it the first time.
A little while later I came to Texas Hold’Em. This was one of the obstacles you couldn’t do on your own. You had to walk across this triangular platform while holding onto another person to keep from falling off. I was walking up to the event just as another solo participant was coming up behind me. We made it across, but it was challenging.
I looked back as I was getting ready to head on to the next obstacle and saw the guy that had helped me with Lumberjacked. I could see a good distance behind him and the only people that were coming were in even-numbered groups. I jogged back over and asked if he wanted to give it a shot. He did. We crossed our arms and worked our way over. There was a little gap in the platform that gave us a bit of trouble, but we made it through.
We started talking as we ran towards the next obstacle and I found out his name was Tony and he was also a firefighter. I believe he said this was his seventh Tough Mudder. A friend of his died shortly before they were going to do their first event back in 2013 and he continues to run for him. A sad but awesome story, and some great motivation to keep pushing!
It wasn’t too long as we met up with the first guy I had done Texas Hold’Em with and the three of us ran the rest of way together. As it turns out, the two of them had both been in Europe in the same general area a few days prior. What a small world it is.
We finished the event with Electroshock Therapy. This was my least favorite obstacle and I was honestly a little disappointed with it. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how rough it is. I’m not sure if I just didn’t hit the wires right or what, but I could barely feel anything. I was half-tempted to touch one with the back of my hand just to see what it was like.
After about two hours and five minutes, I crossed the finish line. Julie and the kids were there to cheer me on and greet me. What a truly awesome experience!
Takeaways from our First Tough Mudder
- You can do a lot if you set your mind to it. I didn’t care how long it took me to finish, but I didn’t want to walk because I was tired. I set a goal to jog the entire way. The only time I slowed down to a walk was approaching obstacles or when there wasn’t a good place to pass someone in front of me.
- Bag check isn’t free. We took a bag with us and you can check them in a tent, but it costs $10 – we didn’t know that going into it. We probably won’t do that next year.
- It’s not about time – It’s about having fun, pushing yourself and others, finishing strong, and helping others finish.
- Community is big. There are a couple of obstacles you simply can’t do on your own. You either skip them or you work with a stranger to get things done. Make friends, work together, and get it done!
- It didn’t seem like 8 miles. I’m sure it helps that I like running this kind of distance, but the event really didn’t seem like it was 8 miles to me. The obstacles really break it up for you.
- You’ll probably get scrapes and bruises. I had a number of them on my arms, legs, stomach, chest, back, and sides. I didn’t really notice them until I finished the event. It’s OK, you’ll heal!
- It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worth it. For my Tough Mudder ticket, two mini-mudder tickets, and a spectator ticket for my wife, we paid $226.33, and that includes a 30% military discount. Parking was $17.03 including processing fees when purchased in advance and checking a bag was about $10. One bonus is after the race, you get a discount for next year’s event. This discount will save about $50 even above what my military discount was this year.
Would We Want to Do It Again?
Me: Absolutely! I can’t wait to do it again next year! I starting writing this four days after the event and I already have my ticket for next year. This is likely to become an annual event from here on out. My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner!
C: “It wasn’t really my favorite thing, but at least I got through it. My favorite part was when I carried the sandbags up the hill and down again. My least favorite part was probably when I had to run up the ramp at the end. I don’t think I would like to do it again.”
O: “It was really good. [My favorite part was] going into the big water tubs because we got soaked and it was actually cold.” Her least favorite part was the black inflatable vertical tubes they had to go through. She said they were a little pointy in places and didn’t feel too good. “I want to do it again because it’s my favorite thing!”
The 300+ mile round-trip was well worth it. This was an amazing day and I’m so glad I was able to spend Father’s Day doing this with the kids. I loved the event and all the obstacles. I think the fact that I already have my ticket for next year shows what I thought of it.
We had talked about getting a GoPro camerabut it was hard to justify just for the event. I’m thinking we could do more things for The Aloha Dad and make good use of it. We may have to get one for next year…
I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite obstacle. The entire course was awesome. I especially loved the Kiss of Mud, Mud Mile, and Mudderhorn.
I would like to thank my wife for coming to watch and stay with the kids while I did my event. If she hadn’t made the trip, the kids wouldn’t have been able to come along and would have missed out.
Have you tried a Tough Mudder? Have your kids completed one? What’d you think? Are you running Tough Mudder Michigan next year? Maybe I’ll see you there! Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram!