Tahoe Tough Mudder is a bigger event then the rest due to its proximity to San Francisco and Sacramento. Bigger turnout= better obstacles, and better event/ post party area. This year, Tough Mudder brought in 13,000 on Saturday and 1,500 on Sunday from what a shopkeeper told me. Compare that to BattleFrog, who is lucky to have 1,500 at a Saturday event.
Hint: BF, come to the west coast.
I signed up using my free season pass from 75+ miles at WTM. I decided this would be my first 2-lap Tough Mudder because legionnaires are welcome to run as many laps as they want now. Cool deal. Plus, I was skipping the Spartan Beast in Breckenridge to run this, so I might as well make it a good training session.
I was due for another long run and figured I’d use this giant expensive playground built by Tough Mudder to do it. Most WTM’ers at the event ran 3 laps Saturday and another lap on Sunday. Very impressive feat considering each lap was 11-miles long and had around 7,800 feet of ascent according to my strava
I opted to do 2 laps because I wanted to run a fast 1st lap at race pace, with a second “cool down” lap to put more time on my feet.
The event was held at Northstar resort near Truckee and Tahoe Vista. I drove up from Tahoe City around 0515, parked in the volunteer parking lot thanks to a hook up from a WTM friend, and took a nap in the truck until 0700.
After the nap I went to check-in and stood in the long line full of spectators and participants. Usually Tough Mudder splits these too groups up in separate lines. Not at this event…..
After check-in, I dropped my bag off and ran to the starting corral around 0740. I was corralled into a “warm-up” zone (new this year) where a guy in Marine Corps swim instructor shorts was thrusting his hips and giving orders through a microphone. Supposed to get people pumped before they get pumped up again at the starting line? Anyway, I stayed around and played his games until I saw the first relay take off at 0745. I said fuck the warm up games, jumped the course line, and ran to the back of the first relay to start the run with them.
5 miles up and 6 miles down
The course took a sharp right from the start and went straight up a big hill. Everyone broke into a walk rather quickly. I did the best I could to keep up an uphill shuffle and moved my way to the front of the pack by the top of the hill. Now in the lead, the course dropped down for a bit then turned around and went up hill again for the next 4 miles.
Tough Mudder brought out all their new obstacles for this event and the whole thing felt like a new experience to me (this is why they are still king). I quickly ran through the old ones like “skid marked” (inverted wall) and “shawshanked” (sewage pipe thing) from the WTM last year. I enjoyed the “Beached Whale”, a giant inflated bubble you have to climb over. There are handles on top with a few small ropes dangling down for support. It takes a big jump followed by some upper body pulling to get over.
As always they brought out the “Devil’s Beard” again and made it tight as a mudder fucker. I really struggled to get through solo. This one always makes me feel like a bitch. I went from bear crawling to low crawling to bending over and trying to throw it over my back, nothing works solo. I did it like a rookie but finally made it through alone.
“Balls to the wall” was easy and “walk the plank” was always fun. Cruised through those.
Since I was the first runner coming through the course I had a man in a gator leading the way. This was a nice gesture but unnecessary since the course was so well marked. The problem was I had to take a shit and didn’t really want to do it in front of him. I needed to get rid of the gator guy. Luckily around mile marker 4 he sped off to take care of business, and I dropped by shorts to take care of my own.
After the pooh I was treated with the obstacle “Hold your wood 2.0”…The logs were lighter then they looked and I threw the thing up on my shoulder. Instead of driving it through the hole in the wall, I threw it over and followed in suit. On the other side I saw that I had a long circle-shaped course to carry the log around. I cleaned the log and pushed it over my head, then lowered it behind my neck like I was going to squat it. I carried it like this alone through the cattle circle thinking of the movie Unbroken. At the end of the circle I had another wall with a slit in it to get the log through. I got it through the slot without touching wood by turning around and “dumping the weight” like you do when squatting. I jumped the wall, picked up the log again, and carried it to the starting point to unload.
From here on out the course was mostly downhill and I let loose. I think my fastest mile was 6:52. I cleared the “berlin wall”, rolled under the wire through the mud, and slid down the slide into the “arctic enema 2.0”. In the process I dropped my WTM headband and had to take another dunk to find it. Refreshing.
Next up was the “Liberator”, an inclined peg-board from WTM (make it vertical already).
After the liberator the course went uphill again and I was rejuvenated enough from the arctic enema to run this part.
Back down the hill I just ran up was the “Funky Monkey 2.0” from WTM. I cruised through this obstacle easier then I ever did at WTM 2014. The rock climbing is paying off.
The “crybaby” obstacle was a cool addition but the gas was kind of weak. I did not dump fluid from every hole in my face like you should.
Around the next corner I met “Everest 2.0” for the first time and I made the mistake of approaching it like Everest 1.0. I missed the top and slid down on my belly. I re-cocked, took a faster sprint, a bigger leap, and reached the top like 1st place should. Bring this obstacle to WTM.
After Everest was the “Birth canal” from WTM. More of a nuisance then anything else, but I used my legs to push on the post and scooted under no problem.
Then the course went back uphill again. Fuck.
After the last little climb the course turned for a fast downhill run to the finish on a choppy-steep hill. I let loose again and blazed it. Halfway down the hill I climbed over the “ladder to hell” and at the bottom I was greeted by “Dead ringer”, “electroshock”, and the finish line. The DJ was there with a small crowd to announce the first finisher and I had to make it across the dead ringer.
This obstacle is the best addition this year. It takes a lot of strength and skill to make it across. I struggled with the rhythm of “swing, stick, swing, stick my first time but made it across as I should. Bring this puppy to WTM.
I sprinted through the “electroshock” taking the zaps in stride and crossed the finish line as 1st finisher for the first time in my short TM life with a time of 1:57. It felt great to run the course alone and pave the raod for the next 13,000 people coming through that day.
After finishing I waited for the next 2 finishers to find someone to run lap 2 with. Wesley came in second place shortly after with Andrew Glaze in third. We posed for a photo then Andrew took off for a second lap. I decided I’d drop my free TM shirt off at bag drop and slam my free beer in case I lost the bracelet on lap 2 (didn’t want to lose my free beer). The beer garden manager was nice enough to give me a second free beer if I ran a second lap. Game on!
After the beer I ran up the steps dodging around the crowds, skipped the starting corral, and jumped the line to start lap 2. I power walked the steep hills and ran the mellow ones until I caught up with Andrew Glaze (2nd place from lap 1). From here on out we ran the course together and finished in 2:20. The whole lap flew by because of the good company and felt more like 45 minutes than 2 hours!
After lap 2 I got my second free beer and Andrew gave me his free beer to make it 3. He chose to continue his journey and run 15 miles back to his hotel in Tahoe Vista.
Tough Mudder always puts on the best events, I’ll keep doing them every year, but I think it’s time they move beyond the “it’s a challenge” philosophy and give the event a money-making competitive relay. In the long run I think they will survive without it, but why not give the competitive runners from Spartan and BattleFrog a reason to run a Tough Mudder again?
Shout out to the volunteers for their support and dedication to the participants. They motivated me the whole way through and made me feel like a celebrity.