My very first race I ever signed up for (not completed) was Tough Mudder Tri-State 2012. I can remember signing my first death waver like it was yesterday and after hitting “submit” to purchase the ticket, I felt sheer panic come over me! By the time November came for me to do this race, I had already completed a Warrior Dash, Spartan Super, and Spartan Beast so I didn’t feel very nervous the day of this race, but I hurt my knee pretty bad at the Beast so just how much pain I could stand would be the true question. Also, I am not one for cold, having Reynauds makes it often challenging to keep grip or just to keep from shaking uncontrollably from the cold and wet conditions that are sure to be at an obstacle course race/mud run in the fall. After completing the 2012 Tough Mudder race, I was in so much pain I could hardly bend my knee, but I finished.
The next year I decided to do this race again after healing and training harder for the 2013 season. The race was once again at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ but it was laid out a little differently than the previous year. Even with some of the same obstacles that are staples to Tough Mudder, like the Funky Monkey, Arctic Enema, & Electroshock Therapy it still felt like a different course than in the previous year. I definitely felt stronger at this race and had no knee issues this year but the Arctic Enema literally took my breath away and it was not easy to snap back after it, but thankfully I did. Toward the end of this race I split my pants on the quarter pipe and there I learned never again to go commando at a race! While trying to not flash all of the runners behind me, I ran through electroshock therapy holding my shirt down in the back and trying to maneuver mud mounds while being electrocuted. Not fun at the time but looking back now it really was hysterical!
In 2014 I was asked by some friends to do this race again, but it was at Englishtown again and by this point I had done so many races at that site I just didn’t feel like spending the high fee Tough Mudder charges to do it. Even with a Living Social/Groupon deal they were offering at the time, I would have had to miss work unpaid so I decided to skip that year and focus my energy on other racing circuits stating that if it were at a different venue in the future, I might consider. When the 2015 location was announced, I realized that this may not be a typical Tough Mudder since there probably wouldn’t be too much mud and no fire because it is a state park, but I figured it was worth doing so the team was formed and I was going for Tough Mudder #3!
The day had come and the temperature was not a typical November day, it was in the 60’s with overcast but there was no need for cold gear. The team all met up at a central location and headed down to Liberty State Park on this beautiful day. When we pulled into the venue, the views of the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty in the back drop of the event were amazing. We spent time taking pictures and the checked in with registration. New for me (started last year) was the Mudder Legion, so those of us that were already Mudders were given a special wrist band so we could do the special Mudder Legion only obstacle at the end of the race and then earn a different color headband to show our accomplishment.
It was time to head to the starting line but first you had to wait to go into the “warm-up” corral. Then after the warm up, we headed to the start line where we were told about the course, obstacles, and pumped up. The guy that was speaking was very motivating and asked us to take a knee. A few things that he said really stood out to me. He said to do something new every week. To always live to pay respect to all of those that have lost their lives fighting for us, to never stop living because all of our days are numbered. I have heard those sayings before, but they really hit home with me that day and as we rose up and the Star Spangled Banner began to play as we turned and faced the flag, I felt a warm and emotional wave come over me and knew today would be a great and special day I would always remember.
As expected, the course was flat and there was not a lot of mud overall and no fire. Most of the beginning of the race was running and a few obstacles like hay bales and walls to break it up. There were really only 2 obstacles that I can recall that even had mud. The first was a boa constrictor type obstacle that you ended up face first in water but it wasn’t deep and a barbed wire crawl. This at least made obstacles like the Funky Monkey a little more manageable because you weren’t dripping mud and not only did your hands have some grip but the bars weren’t as muddy and slippery either. I almost made it to the end of the Funky Monkey for the first time ever, but right at the very end I hit my hand on a pole and down into the water I went!
Not too much longer after that is my least favorite obstacle ever, Arctic Enema! This year it was a slide and then a hop over a wall vs. going underneath it. At first, since I had begun to shake uncontrollably and lost the feeling in my hands, I seriously considered skipping this obstacle for the first time ever. All but one of my team mates did it and as we started to walk away, I just knew I couldn’t skip it so I told them I was going to go back and do it. My team was so awesome that they said they would go back and do it again to support me, which really meant a lot to me that they would endure something like that again.
A few more obstacles we had along the course that were fun were the quarter pipe where I got up first and then along with the kind help of strangers, helped my team mates get up it as well. A fall on to air mats from high up, an inverted wall with ropes that were muddy that you had to use to get across it and while trying to get momentum I swung over the start of the wall. There was an inflatable whale and this was hilarious and I laughed so hard as we all tried to get over it. There was a fireman’s carry where we had to carry a team mate over your shoulder and a pipe carry that you had to team up and carry the pipe over/under/through walls together.
I was a little disappointed at the finish there was no photographer, so we got our bags and our own cameras to take some post-race pictures. The festival area was nice and the changing accommodations were the best I can recall for a Tough Mudder, typically I ended up changing in a gross porta-potty. After changing we headed to get our free Shock Top and then tried the Chipotle wheel to win free burritos, but all of us failed at it because it was definitely much harder than it looked.
While there were some things that were definitely missing from a traditional Tough Mudder, I look at this race series as one that is built on teamwork and comradery and that is exactly what I experienced. I laughed a lot that day and overall had a great day with some awesome people with some spectacular views! This race was so much more than just a race it was a totally awesome experience!