Tough Mudders are on their own

Tough Mudder participants get dirty on the Central Coast. Picture: Dallas Kilponen
Tough Mudder participants get dirty on the Central Coast. Picture: Dallas Kilponen


Some mudders do ’ave ’em and they have to be mighty tough. 

Tough enough to swim across ice lakes, withstand electric shocks, crawl through mud tunnels, catapult through fire, climb three-metre walls and free-fall down the other side – all for the fun of it.

Men and women around the globe are falling over themselves to be part of the endurance event Tough Mudders.

The 20-kilometre obstacle course is designed by British Special Forces to test strength, stamina and mental fortitude, but not speed. 

Participants have to pledge not to whine, to put teamwork and camaraderie before course time, help fellow mudders and overcome all fears.

I watch the videos. I see the pain in participants’ faces as their bodies react to 10,000 volts of electricity and I wonder: Why?

 This is one journo who won’t take up the offer to run the fitness gauntlet for free. What’s wrong with a jog on a beach followed by a swim in the blue sea, a game of golf followed by a cooling ale, a hike along our beautiful coastline followed by a picnic by a lake? 

No, that’s for pussies. 

You have to be a special sort of person to be a tough mudder, with a particular profile. 

Here are 10 essential attributes. First, you must have balls. Perhaps not in the physical sense – after all, 25per cent of entrants are women – but certainly in the metaphorical sense. 

Yup, you have to have a healthy dose of testosterone to take on the Arctic enema, boa constrictor and electric eel.

Second, you must be muscle-bound. Running, crawling, swimming and climbing for a gruelling 20 kilometres takes some doing. Start running, pumping, squatting and pushing upwards now.

Third, a penchant for war paint is an essential part of the theatrics: painted warriors pitting themselves against the obstacles, proving their strength and fortitude, conquering the fearful foe within. 

Fourth, a taste for putrid mud and bog water – including a unique beauty treatment, a full facial mud pack – coupled with a strong constitution and high immunity to infection.

Fifth, hair – lots of body and facial hair. Whether you’re male or female, a thick down will put grunt in your stride and have the added advantage of protecting against hypothermia in the glacial waters.

Sixth, taking charge as electric shocks course through your body. 

Who needs a heart starter when you are pulsating with 10,000 volts? Staying grounded might be equally important.

Seventh, know you are going to have a bad hair day, despite the bandana. 

And a bad nail day, and a bad outfit day and a bad…well, it’s all pretty bad.

Eighth, truckloads of grit and determination. 

There’s three hours of agony ahead of you and only one way out. 

Ninth, be a team player. Forget your own ambitions, your fellow mudder is stuck in the muck – you drag him up by his boot laces and urge him on. 

Tenth, despite everything, you’re expected to retain a sense of humour. No matter how tough the going gets, the tough keep grimacing. 

But my bovver-boy imaginings were blown out of the water recently when I met slim, petite, pretty Louise  (an optometrist), and discovered she’d done this nightmare – and is going back for more. 

Ah well, each to her own.


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