My second Tough Mudder couldn’t have been more different from the first time back in April, with a handful of new obstacles, a very different course layout, a smaller team, and almost perfect weather. Whereas the Poconos course was dominated by trails and nature (including ridiculously cold weather) with obstacles interspersed throughout, Tri-State took great advantage of its Raceway Park setting to deliver an arguably more challenging course that took its toll on our calves more than anything else, thanks to what seemed like 12 full miles of mud, mud, and more mud!
There were at least three prolonged stretches of mud and hills—does Raceway Park do dirt bike racing?—only one of which was officially an obstacle (Mud Mile), and there were a couple of times where we thought we’d accidentally circled back onto a part of the course we’d done already. From slippery up and downhills that required teamwork, to hard slog with caked-on mud weighing your feet down, I felt like this was the first real MUD RUN of the three I’ve done to-date.
This time, I only skipped two obstacles, both of which I completed the first time around, deciding not to tempt fate twice with Walk the Plank (technically, I can’t really swim!), and skipping Everest because our calves were shot at that point and it was the second to last obstacle. I overcame the Electric Eel this time, though, low-crawling through water underneath electric wires, and got my first electric shocks; 10+ of them, actually. The shocks are as bad as advertised and were the one time I questioned the “overcome your fears” concept because fearing electrocution is perfectly valid!
Two of my favorite challenges were Peg Legs and Twinkle Toes, both requiring patience and balance—I don’t have much of either!—and made tougher thanks to all of the mud caked into your shoes and hands. Peg Legs was new, crossing a pond on the tops of tree stumps trunks spread far enough apart to test your balance because you’re too muddy to hop without slipping and falling. Twinkle Toes is a long, two inch balance beam over water that gets wobbly in the middle, and I skipped it last time because it was the second-to-last obstacle and I didn’t have the heart to hit the cold water again. Thanks to the nice weather, I attempted and conquered both of them!
I tackled the final obstacle, Electroshock Therapy, the same way I did last time, head-on, braced for the shock, though this time I knew exactly what it would feel like. In the Poconos, the ground was flat and littered with small hay bales, so there was a little bobbing and weaving involved. This time, it was one final section of mud and small hills, and I raced straight through it like a tailback hitting a rapidly closing hole, leapfrogging downed lineman reaching for his ankles. Like last time, I somehow avoided getting shocked!
When we were done, we were all pretty convinced two was enough and that it was our last Tough Mudder. I was already wavering a little bit by the time I got home, and this morning I’m back on the fence. There are a few friends who are considering doing it, some for the first time, and I’d be tempted to join them, including one who inspired me to do the damn thing in the first place and did his fourth one yesterday… so I’m really tempted to do one just with him.
For now, though, I’m just thrilled to know I’m in even better shape than I was after the first Mudder, and that what started as Operation: Don’t Die has become the more invigorating Mission: Keep Challenging Yourself!