There is a whole lot of nonsense out there about Tough Mudder. Is it tough? Really tough? No. Not really. 20km, or 19km or whatever the actual distance is, is 19km or 20km. If you are ready for it you are ready for it. Is there anything here not done before? In this case no. Even the electricity was tame – at least compared to a car coil jab, or a jolt from the Gallagher electric fence unit. The fire is smoke, the logs are manageable by one person, and the mud is just mud. And the ice water was no patch on that glacial lake in Nepal. So it’s all been done before in one form or another. I will concede it helped that we were well prepared in our physical fitness and all the preparation we had done for Nepal stood us in good stead. Indeed, I think I am the fittest I have been for fifteen years or more, and that certainly helped. But it’s really not about fitness but about ones mental preparation. Yet even the mental stamina required is fairly tame – I found myself redrafting chapters of my book and at one stage finessing some marketing strategies and ideas for work as I ran along. But let’s face it “Not So Tough Mudder” does not make for good marketing fodder and this is a business after all.
Now I am not wanting to diss TM at all. That’s not my purpose. I was part of the teeming masses that made up the inaugural Sydney event. Our posse of four ranged in age from twenty to fifty. We ran all the course we could less those sections where we were bottlenecked by the crowd. We overtook many and were overtaken by a few. We completed every obstacle and did so in a reasonable time with no injury. But that is not meant to sound like our achievement was only about checking off a list.
If that was the case I would not be lining up to do it again. And I am definitely lining up to have another crack at it. If that’s the case, wherein lies the appeal? It’s complicated, as all relationships that involve long periods of time tend to be! I hate the cliché but there is the matter of camaraderie. We had a sense throughout that we were functioning well as a team. Our rhythm was not of four individuals but as a cohesive little team. But there is a wider camaraderie as well. We were part of a team of twelve thousand or so. Each obstacle was one achieved in the company of others and with their help. Shouted advice about tactics. A hand painted in mud belonging to a person whose face and name are unknown is reached out to help me up a river bank. Brute strength helping me over or under or through something. Or plain old vanilla humour when an attempt failed or I achieved closure with an obstacle with all the grace and poise of a plane smash. And let’s not forget the crew of supporters who spent the day with us, albeit on the sidelines. They were a powerful tonic and encouragement for us and added to the sense of ‘team’ and who sup from the same camaraderie cup. They are all the ingredients which make up a recipe that bakes a sweet sense of achievement and gratification, accomplishment and a binding of friendship which only the foolish and insane understand. And we were either or both of those. On that I have to agree with some of that nonsense flying around about this event. I am probably both actually. So see you next year. In the mud. Being jolted senseless under an electric wire. Living the dream.