At the end of the 2017 event season Julie Creffield agreed to train for and tackle a Tough Mudder Half with a group of women she’d never met before. See how the #MudderWoman team got on as they took on the second half of the course.
Facing the Block Ness Monster
My all time favourite obstacle had to be the Block Ness Monster. You submerged yourself into chest deep water and made your way to a rotating block. The idea was to grab onto the edge of the block and hold on for dear life as it rotates, only problem is if too many people hold on it rotates in the wrong direction and you fall off. It relies on people on the other side helping to weight it down in the right way, and communication to ensure not everyone tries to go all at once.
It took a few attempts, but I was really proud of my upper body strength to hold on. All of those ring rows and knees to chest moves on the CrossFit rig have paid off… I can remember not being able to hang for more than 2 or 3 seconds when I first joined.
I also loved how once the momentum took you, you simply had to dive into the water head first. I loved this obstacle I really did.
Then onwards and upwards, quite literally with Everest 2.0. Now this obstacle I completely avoided in 2014. I knew there was no chance of ever getting close so I walked round it. This year I figured I would at least give it a go. I took hold of the rope and walked up as far as I could, but it was nowhere near the top and I simply knew I wouldn’t have the strength to pull myself up. I am proud of myself for giving it a go, and even prouder of myself for not feeling embarrassed about not being able to do it…there were loads of people in the same boat.
Up next was Birth Canal a small enclosed tunnel with a roof of water crushing down on you. Difficult to describe but I can see how people could get freaked out or feel claustrophobic. I was in and out as fast as I could move, even if it did play havoc on my hands and knees.
And then some more running. The last bit seemed to go on forever, and took us across a real spectator area where one woman shouted out to me, “You are an inspiration, a bloody inspiration,” which choked me up.
The Last Obstacle
Then I was looking at the final obstacle between me and a pint of cider. Pyramid Scheme – THE WORST OBSTACLE OF ALL.
Now let me explain. I hate being carried. I hate knowing that someone else is having to carry my weight quite literally on their shoulders. And this is exactly what this. A triangle shaped structure where you have to use random human beings as a ladder. I stood for a while considering opting out of this one. I had hated it in 2014 and knew this year would be no different…in fact it was worse.
I looked into the eyes of the guy at the bottom to see if there was any sign that he would prefer me not to start making the ascent. He waved for me to make a start and I checked just to be sure, “Are you serious? I’m really heavy.”
“Come on” he said, and I started to clamber over him, towards the man standing on his shoulders. And this is where I become a bit unstuck. I couldn’t get a grip on the wooden panels which were slippery so was left in this situation where I was just clinging to the side of the second man, with little to no strength to pull myself up. If it wasn’t so embarrassing it would have been laughable…I felt like just hugging the guy, sliding back down and having done with it. But everyone was cheering and giving me instructions.
A Tough Mudder camera man had climbed up just before me and was perching on a little ledge about half way up. He was my only hope. He stretched out his hand and I was able to pull myself up, using the guy below me’s shoulders as leverage. I was only half way up. And I had nobody to climb on. As I reached up towards the 4 or 5 folk above me, I was short about a foot or so Mr Camera Man came to the rescue again and pushed my feet up, as an even bigger team above grabbed my arms and together pulled me over.
I was elated and embarrassed as hell. But I had done it. As undignified as it was – I was up and I could see the finish line in the distance. We made our way the final 500 metres or so together as a group and then across the finish line.
Headbands, high-fives and a cider
We collected our Tough Mudder headband, t-shirt and cider and I breathed a sigh of relief, I’d completed it without any major dramas. The Mudder Women team had been a great support, we each had our strengths and we supported each other, never leaving anyone behind, which felt incredibly powerful. However, I still think these events are better done with your mates, and folks at a similar fitness level to yourself.
I think the Tough Mudder Half is a wonderful event, the distance is just right for folks like me who do train, have some fitness, some strength, plenty of endurance and a whole heap of heart. It is a great option for those of us just not ready for the Tough Mudder Full, which really does take some doing.
It was a brilliant event and I am really glad I did it. Perhaps I will go for a full distance one next year, with some good training behind me. Perhaps I’ll even get my sister to do it with me…if it’s the full she will have to train.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Tough Mudder, Our Parks, Merrell, Lucozade, Trek and everyone else who has supported us on this journey. It was a brilliant experience, reminding me that I am tougher than I think, and that sometimes being part of a team teaches you more about yourself than going it alone.
Missed out on the first part of Julie’s story? You can read part one of her blog now.