The “toughest event on the planet” was muddy marvellous!
In the rainswept grounds of Drumlanrig Castle in June, Tough Mudder Scotland took place.
This beautiful location was the setting for inordinate amounts of mud and some epic obstacles.
Described as “probably the toughest event on the planet”, Tough Mudder is not a run for the faint-hearted.
The full course comprises 16 unforgiving kilometres (10 miles) packed with mud and obstacles. It’s a course, one would imagine, designed only for either the very brave or extremely mad.
We won’t say into which category of participant The Scots Magazine staff fall into, but four of the team signed up to run the Tough Mudder 2018 course!
Unlucky For Some
Pic researcher, Karen; Editor, Robert; Digital Content Manager, Katrina; and your Whisky Expert, Euan, recruited gullible pals Gary, Lee, Caroline, Beth, Terri, Steph, Bruce, Andrew and Paul for an unlucky-numbered team of 13.
Together they ran, splashed, slid and clambered around the course to raise funds for Maggie’s Centres in Scotland. This incredible charity provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer, along with their family and friends.
Thanks to your generous donations, our team raised an incredible £3671.20!
The going wasn’t easy, however. Obstacles on the Tough Mudder Full course included Mud Mile (exactly as you’d imagine) and The Pyramid Scheme, a giant slippery incline without handholds.
The team unanimously agreed, however, on which was the worst obstacle by far. Euan has kindly written down his thoughts on this horrendous experience for you…
There’s an obstacle midway through Tough Mudder Scotland called Arctic Enema – The Rebirth.
This involves clambering up a slippery scaffolding structure. Once at the top, you squeeze your frame into the maw of a claustrophobic industrial pipeline perched at a steep decline.
Gravity takes grip, slamming you into the bone-chilling depths of a gut-wrenching broth of watery mud, ice and the flailing bodies of fellow competitors.
The shock to the system is nothing short of obscene. Your lungs violently bellow, your stomach wretches and eyes momentarily fuzz over.
“Folks. Be in no doubt, this watery ‘rebirth’ is a
far cry from the tranquil banks of the Jordan.”
For a nauseating moment, I even found myself contemplating if this obstacle had actually elicited the very effect of the procedure, as advertised on the tin, with some unfortunate fellow ‘mudders’.
Swimming (now at some pace) through this hellish cauldron, we had to submerge ourselves once again into the demonic brew to negotiate a timber boom halfway along.
Folks. Be in no doubt, this watery ‘rebirth’ is a far cry from the tranquil banks of the Jordan.
There is, however, something deeply reaffirming about the Tough Mudder experience.
Given I’m usually out and about, traversing the country writing about the water of life, I only knew a few of my teammates in our 13-person squad as we entered the muddy valley of death. On the other side, though, we emerged like a bunch of old pals. If you think there’s a whiff of cliché about that sentiment – you clearly haven’t experience this boak-inducing – but thoroughly brilliant – event.
Tough Mudder is an endurance series co-founded by Will Dean, a former British counter terrorism officer, and Guy Livingstone, a former corporate lawyer.
There are various distances and variations. We had set out attempt the ‘full’ 10 mile obstacle course that tests mental as well as physical strength.
Crucially, the obstacles play on common human fears, such as water, electricity and heights.
Being in the right mind-set before you set foot on the course is essential.
The importance of teamwork and “nae whining”
Somewhere between a scream-if- you-wanna-go-faster MC at Essex fairground and Gunnery Sgt Hartman of Full Metal Jacket fame, competitors are geed up in a big-beat, all dancing, all laughing mass warm up/team talk that is surely unsurpassed world over. Hoo rah!
The importance of teamwork and nae whining are the main messages – as well as protocol if someone gets hurt. Regretfully, we had to employ this just a few minutes into the course.
On the obstacle known as the Bale Bonds, a stack of hay bales you need to clamber over, one Mudder had caught his ankle in the join between two and done himself mischief of chalky-face proportions. Speedy recovery, mate.
But therein lay a valuable lesson. Tough Mudder Scotland was peppered with big obstacles and obvious dangers (you even need to sign a detailed disclaimer) but the small things can be equally problematic.
The trick is balancing the buzz – and maintaining focus. Yet these two states of consciousness are not necessarily conflicting.
Negotiating hurdles like walls with big overhangs, cage-covered pools with only surface room for your face, and cavernous pits of strength-sapping mud isn’t a solitary past time. Shoulders become stairs, heads stepping stones and the decent restraint of society evaporates as you haul, push and pull your teammates over, under and through this apocalypse of fun.
The endorphin hit from overcoming these fearful challenges as a team is euphoric.
Laughter abounds at Tough Mudder Scotland – and I found getting in aboot it a massive release from the nine-to-five pressures.
That buzz can heighten the senses: sight sharper, hearing clearer . . . then CRACK!
Behold the electroshock therapy obstacle
Dangling like the tentacles of some gargantuan jellyfish from a makeshift timber canopy, these lines deliver a shock almost on a par with the rural electric fences my brothers and I used to dare each other to touch in our mis-spent youth.
After negotiating this gauntlet all but unassailed, one tentacle made contact with my jaw bone – delivering a McGregor-esque jolt though my central nervous system. Strangely, I experienced the sudden disappearance of residual dental ache following a recent bout of root canal treatment. That alleviation, of course, was conducive to chat.
Because good chat is a big factor on this course.
The rambling forest tracts between obstacles reminded me of sections of the West Highland Way. We did jog sections, but much of it was only conducive to a speedy march.
And that brisk walk – combined with fresh air, scenery, adrenaline, and even more anticipation of what’s coming next – lends itself to engaging conversation.
Add into the mix everyone wearing standard issue Scots Mag t-shirts and as a result there is something tribal, something primal about this endeavour. Some of us picked up niggles, aches and pains on the way. All of us helped them get through.
And therein is the absolute beauty of this horrible event.
“the very best in the human spirit”
In a dog-eat-dog world, where Apprentice-type hawfwits are aft celebrated (and, sadly, imitated) it’s quite refreshing to get down, dirty and similarly submersed in an endeavour that brings out the very best in the human spirit.
Fear turns to laughter, strangers become friends and trainers disappear with resounding raspberries – reminding you that when all is said and done, mother nature wears the trousers.
Tough Mudder Scotland; the most reaffirming thing I’ve done in a long time.
They certainly breed them tough in The Scots Magazine.
Well done team, and above all, a big thank you to everyone who donated.
Pics courtesy of teammates and the official Tough Mudder snappers