Thursday, June 21, 2012


This weekend a group of twelve of us did the real deal at Tough Mudder—IN. The group included Susan Pearman Arp, Patty Brewington, Jennifer Clover, Jane Graham, Dr. John Hancock, Michelle Henry-Hall, Sharon McDaniel, Chris and Brooke Newhart, Michelle Bibo Vaughn, Heather Warren and myself.

Two of our Biggest Losers, T. J. and Amanda Johnson (and one Bub) also attended as support staff (which was pretty tough too), and they did a great job helping us during the event.

After several months of training, we all felt more or less ready for the physical part, but you never know about the mental part. It was basically twelve miles up and down sand dunes and the motorcycle and four-wheeler trails at Badlands Off Road Park in Attica, IN. What made it interesting were the 24 truly sadistic obstacles thrown in throughout the event.

Here’s one way of putting things in perspective. You had to go over a 6-foot wall just to enter the starting corral before the race. You then swore a pledge not to whine, or leave anyone behind. They called the waiver the “death” waiver.

Every 20 minutes, several hundred people went through the starting gates and out into the course. Throughout the event, we must have gone up and down a hundred hills. Some were extremely high, and almost too steep to go up without help near the top.

They also liked getting you extremely wet and slippery before having you climb things, which made it more difficult. For example, they had you do things like the “Kiss of Mud”, which was a belly crawl through a muddy field, under barbed wire just 8 inches off the ground.

Once your hands and feet were extremely muddy, they had you tackle several pairs of 12-foot “Berlin Walls” (I guess one pair wasn’t enough). Too tall for most people to do without help, it typically took two on the bottom for a boost, and one on top reaching down so you had something to grab. Once you made it over, you had to be careful jumping back down so you wouldn’t turn an ankle or sprain a knee.

Another time, after going through more mud pits, they had you going over and under a section of large trees that had been cut down and stacked up like tinker toys. This would have been better without the muddy hands and feet!

There were several tunnel crawls, one of which led down to another muddy pit with more barbed wire keeping you face down in the water. Once you made it out of the pipe into the water, you had to crawl back through another one to get up and out.

Another tunnel was even smaller and more claustrophobic, with a sandy bottom that just tore up your knees and elbows. Speaking of sand, just continuing to run with your shoes filled up with sand and rocks might have been the biggest challenge of all. Most of us stopped to clean them out a couple times, but it didn’t really matter, they just filled right back up.

There was one section called the “Muddy Mile” where you waded through these mud bogs hip deep and so thick that it was almost impossible to move. Other times, the mud was sloppier so it was easier to move, but they had buried tree trunks at different places where you couldn’t see them. If you didn’t feel them, you’d smack your shins on them. Even if you did feel them, you still slipped trying to get over them.

At one point, we came through the mud and up this dusty hill and then stopped to catch our breath. Someone commented “we looked like a bunch of refugees from somewhere bad.”

One of the most interesting obstacles was the “Arctic Enema”, a large construction dumpster filled with water and ice cubes. Belly button deep, you waded to the center and then had to fully immerse yourself to get under this obstacle and come up on the other side. It was extremely cold!

There was a really long water slide which was pretty refreshing, except for the muddy pool you slammed into at the end. Another time we ran about a mile through a shallow creek which was kind of neat, but you had to watch your footing on the rocks.

Probably the coolest water event was the 15’ jump off the “Walk the Plank” platform into the creek, after pulling yourself up a steep ramp with a rope. But it wasn’t cool for this one guy, who forgot to keep his arm in close when jumping, and separated his shoulder when he hit the water.

About four hours into the event, the rain and lightning came, and they were closing any obstacles that had anything to do with water, including a monster monkey bars over water, and a long slippery balance beam with water on both sides to break your fall.

They actually shut the entire course down while we were doing the slippery giant quarter pipe wall. Two of us made it up, and another almost made it before we were all told to leave the obstacle because the course was closing due to the extreme weather.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to complete the most shocking events. One was a belly crawl through a muddy section with live wires packing 10,000 volts. The other was a sprint through the final obstacle called “Electro Shock Therapy.” You guessed it—more live wires hanging down to run through to get to the finish line. It’s weird. You didn’t want to do it, but you were kind of disappointed that you couldn’t do it. Maybe next time.

Some of the obstacles seemed pretty daunting when we looked at them on the internet, and they seemed even more there. But at that moment, you just had to suck it up and get started. If you just got started, you could do it, because the biggest challenge was actually in your mind, not the obstacle itself.

All in all, we ended up with some bruises and minor abrasions, but also a pretty big sense of accomplishment. We were Tough Mudders!

This week’s Biggest Loser was once again Brittany Cline, who lost 3.3% of her body weight and 4.6 lbs. T. J. Johnson was second, losing a little less than 1.0% and 1.6 lbs.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at !

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