On the 13th April, nine mums and one dad donned on their Warrior T-shirts and prepared to take part in the 5k Urban Tough Mudder, the first ever obstacle course race and 5k for many. This was going to be a huge milestone in our fitness progression since having babies, for the majority, less than a year ago.
The Tough Mudders Warrior Mums What’s App chat had been pinging away like crazy in the few days leading up to the event, with discussion on what to wear, what to eat, and just how much glitter we would need (a very important question). The day before, we got photos and feedback from some of our group who had passed through Finsbury Park and seen some of the obstacles. Find out who the member of our team were here.
With adrenaline already racing, we checked into the Media tent, glittered-up, waved our other halves and babies off, and entered the ‘holding pen’ for the 11.am wave. After a short warm-up and a lot of excited, nervously-manic grinning at each other, we were off! The others didn’t know what they were in for, but having done a full Tough Mudder before, I was well prepared – they’d love it!
The first obstacle we passed was one that Cassie, a mum to a toddler the same age as mine, and I had walked by on the way up with my husband and deemed ‘pretty tough’. It was one with a backward slanted ramp which immediately required teamwork. We got to grips with this pretty quickly after overcoming the politeness of muddying peoples’ shoulders and hands with mucky trainers. First obstacle complete!
There’s a massive high which comes with doing scary things and for most of the obstacles, we had a sense of achievement and relief as we got through them. We crawled under, over, through, together and around things. Some were a mix of facing fears such as heights, others required strength, such as the ‘Overtired’ rope, tyre and wall climb, and others required technique. We had to work together for many of the obstacles, such as the Pyramid Scheme, where you literally have to stand on top of each other on an incline so your team members can reach the summit, before the last person (usually the tallest), would pull themselves up, or get a leg-up from another team. Clean and Jerk required teamwork, coordination AND strength as one lucky team member got to be carried round a short loop. You can’t do a Tough Mudder and not appreciate the teamwork and camaraderie required. I lost count of the times I saw members of the team shouting encouragement and advice to each other, holding out a hand for people to grab or lowering a shoulder to help provide a stable base from which to hoist themselves over a fence. I found Hanging Out particularly tough – it’s a solo obstacle which requires you to shimmy, sloth-like, along a pole. My arms!
Unlike the full Tough Mudder, the urban one doesn’t have any water, mud or electrocution, but in true British fashion, the weather put on a fine display of icy sleet, light rain and glorious sunshine. The obstacles are sized down also, but nonetheless still challenging. Kathryn’s thoughts were ‘It felt attainable and achievable yet also a challenge. Great atmosphere overall but would have loved some more entertainment or music along the way.’ Having done both the full Tough Mudder and now the 5k, I think the 5k setting was much more sociable as you passed spectators more often. I agree though, music would have been nice but perhaps we need to make our own next time!
And it’s not a Tough Mudder without the infamous Everest – a half pipe which is virtually impossible to get up on your own. You definitely need someone at the top ready to catch you as you scramble and hurl yourself up the side. This is a real tough one because it takes a lot of energy and trust in yourself and others. I was particularly impressed by Amy who believed in herself and refused to give up, even after a shaky first attempt.
When I first brought up the discussion of the Tough Mudder with my mums and fitness group, there were a lot of snorts of dismissal. Yet, here we were, two months after it was brought up, grins on our faces as we realised that we were so much more than just mums, we were tough mothers! As Cassie reflected, ‘My favourite part of it was getting to know some warrior mums and seeing them achieve goals they didn’t think were possible. And actually realising I could do it. I loved how it wasn’t about competing but getting round and enjoying the challenge. The general atmosphere and spirit of it was amazing – such a lovely supportive event. I also loved that Arthur joined us for much of it – how great for him to see strong warrior mums challenging themselves.’
Tough Mudder isn’t just about getting over obstacles, it’s so much more than that. The 5k Urban Tough Mudder is a fantastic entry point for those who want a physical challenge which is fun and brings people together. The event itself is just a tiny part of it – the training, the anticipation, the teamwork, the highs and the lows are what make it great. As Phoebe put it, ‘Best part of Tough Mudder HAD to be doing it as a team. I never thought I’d meet a bunch of such lovely people who would help me overcome so many obstacles, the toughest being my life long lack of self belief in my ability to achieve physically!’
There are various Tough Mudders coming up across the UK. Take a look at toughmudder.co.uk for more information. Tickets vary in price but can cost from £45 for the 5k Urban Tough Mudder and there are a lot of Earlybird offers so keep an eye out.