Tough Mudder Strong! 12 miles, 22 obstacles later…

I had quite the exciting weekend! Yesterday at 1:15pm I became a Tough Mudder! With a start time at 9:40pm, it took my team 3 hours and 35 minutes to do a 12 mile obstacle course that involved jumping into ice cold water, being electric shocked, running a mile in mud, going through fire… and that’s just the beginning.

{Tough Mudder strong! 12 miles and 22 obstacles courses later we became Tough Mudders!}

Want a taste of what it’s like? Check out this video… I literally did everything–minus the carrying of the logs (which wasn’t an offered obstacle in my race) –plus additional obstacles not featured. (Even the guy speaking in the video was there.)

Designed by the British Special Forces, Tough Mudder tests your all around strength, stamina, metal grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world and with more than 500,000 participants (+ the 22,000 that ran the same day as me — we broke the biggest 1-day record!), they have managed to raise more than $3.7 million for the Wounded Warrior Project.

While you have the option of not participating in any of the obstacles (remember, you can get injured, and many do), I attempted them all and the only one I was unable to complete was the monkey bars (I fell in the water). I went in without any training — although I think running around the city in heels should count as a sport after what I accomplished — and just believed that I could do it, and powered through cramps, exhaustion, the most foul smelling mud (easily the worst part of the course) and not only prevailed but had the best time doing it. With challenges as extreme as these, there’s no room for hesitating you just have to go for it.

{Crossing the finish line}

Finishing wasn’t nearly as challenging as waking up to every muscle in my body being sore. Everything I do today feels like an obstacle; getting out of bed, reaching for my laptop, taking out the garbage. (Don’t get me started on going up or down stairs.) However, considering how nervous I was about the race, I got off easy (two of my allstar teammates that run marathons for breakfast dropped out at the last minute — keep in mind there are no refunds or ticket transfers so make sure you can commit).

For anyone doing Tough Mudder, here are my notes! If you’re nervous, get over it, you’re going to have so much fun, just keep a positive mentality. Everyone helps each other out so obstacles like getting over the Berlin Wall, the hard part isn’t getting up, it’s getting down. Don’t hesitate before jumping into the Arctic Enema (the swim through ice water) or when you Walk The Plank (15+ feet high jump into cold water), just jump in and get through it. The run through fire is wimpy (or at least it was in my race), it lasted a few seconds just felt nice on my body after exposing it to the freezing arctic tank. Learn to swing across 5 rings for Hangin Tough— it’s easy if you have good form, rhythm and know how to do it (watch a demo on youtube). I have no upper body strength and I was probably the only person I saw that made it. On the off chance your course makes you walk on slippery, muddy tree trunks across water (it’s not an obstacle listed on the website so hopefully it goes away), be cautious, or avoid it — It’s  just plain dangerous. I didn’t see a single person make it across (well technically I did since my teammate that fell in held my hand and let me use him for support). Even with that, it was a challenge and not in the rewarding sense. The monkey bars are the toughest — kuddos to anyone who can make it. If you can rock a pull up bar that’s very slippery, you have a shot. Be smart about the electric shock, put your arms over your face as a shield but don’t just bolt across. Move quickly but sachet around the electric cords. You won’t be able to avoid them all but I found that technique worked well for me and was barely shocked.


{I wore an Under Armour Seamless Essential Sports Bra, Roxy surf rashguard top, Hanes Blackout Silk Reflections Convert-A-Tight and Under Armour The Grippy II No Show Socks and Nike sneakers I was content with retiring upon finishing.}

There’s lots of talk about what to wear — don’t wear cotton it gets wet and heavy, use gloves because the grip helps with the ropes and climbing… but in all honesty you’ll read one article supporting one train of thought and another going the other way so I recommend going with what’s comfortable. I saw loads of gloves, sweatshirts, t-shirts tossed along the way by participants. I wanted something more or less waterproof, that would dry fast (and was perfectly comfortable). I do however recommend having your legs covered to avoid bruises from the electric shocks and scrapes from being in the woods. I would maybe even put some cushion in my knee and definitely cover my elbows (which are all scraped up) if I was doing it over again.  I wore a bandana to wipe the mud out of my eyes, but it got so wet and dirty I ended up chucking it within a few miles). Goggles were also recommended by a friend but I’m glad I didn’t wear any. As for gloves, they get so muddy that the only time I found them helpful was when going over the Berlin Wall just because the pressure of holding the wood while hurling my body over hurt.

As for shoes wear something you’re willing to part with since they get so gross that you’ll probably end up donating them after the race. I drilled holes in mine to let out water when I ran. I did see a lot of people with the Vibram Five Fingers, which is probably ideal since they don’t retain as much mud and seem easier to clean.

{See what I mean… so long sneaks!}


Tough Mudder is all over the US (as well Canada, UK and Australia). For NYC, we qualify as Tri-State and for the date I wanted that meant going to New Jersey; roughly 1 hour out of the city. The unfortunate part is that once you park in the Tough Mudder parking lot ($10 charge), you still have to a 40 minute shuttle to the course. At least the shuttle is free, and in the shape of a school bus!

{All aboard the school bus shuttle}


The finish line is exciting (you’re bursting with joy when you run through it) but the after math is a little anticlimactic. A volunteer gives you an orange head band and congratulates you, then you file to either side to get a shirt and then wait in a long line for a beer. There are also sponsors generously handing out deodorant and Cliff bars. Then it’s done, you’re insanely muddy and back in the main area where you registered.

{Registration area}

{Some people wear costumes!!}

{Why hello Birchbox friends! (This picture goes out to Rachel!)}

{And look… Birchbox now has mens! Go Ursa Major!!}

At this point you have a choice, either take the shuttle back to your car or go to the communal showering area and try to hose off with freezing cold water. You only get about two minutes because everyone is waiting so keep in mind you could be better off with dry mud and holding out until you get home then reactivating it with the water. If you are showering, bring a towel!

{Outdoor showers}

All in all it was an amazing experience and I’m so happy I did it. I far exceeded my expectations in both what I thought I could handle and in my ability to conquer my fears and I’m very proud of myself and my teammates for what we accomplished. It’s a once (unless you do it multiple times…) in a lifetime opportunity and I highly recommend it to anyone that’s been considering signing up.

Disclaimer: I was given a media pass