Another year, another Tough Mudder
DOVER -- A dark cloud hung over our heads as the hype man for Tough Mudder brought us in on one knee to explain the general idea of the event.
"We don't want your best time. I don't have a timer down here," he said. "We just want your best."
The Tough Mudder at Mount Snow, held on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, was its fifth time hosting a New England event at the mountain. Approximately 10,000 participants showed up there on Saturday.
It was my second time going through the ups-and-downs of a 10 mile obstacle course designed by people in the British Special Forces. Courses are set up throughout the United States at different times.
This event helps to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. According to toughmudder.com, donations assist with supporting "the 19 free, diverse programs provided by Wounded Warrior Project to assist injured veterans on the journey towards as successful civilian life."
There are plenty of obstacles throughout the course. My team largely agreed that the obstacles are almost welcome breaks from running up and down the mountain that houses a ski resort and mountain bike park that we frequent.
A day before, my brother and teammate Steven Mays had read online about others' experiences for this season of the Tough Mudder.
"It's going to be easier than last year," he said.
Being my second time, I was considered a "legionnaire," which meant I could go through new obstacles.
The newest one is known as "Fire in the Hole" and it requires climbing to the top of a platform, going down a water slide with hands behind the head and sliding through hot flames. Those flames can be felt from the top of the platform before ever touching the slide.
My teammate and volunteer firefighter Keith Brigley said it wasn't dangerous. He was also the first to drop down into the fire that then shoots you into a small pool of water. I was last.
This year, I wasn't as focused on completing every obstacle.
There were 30- to 40-minute waits to climb walls that did not seem all that challenging or innovative. There were also the electroshock obstacles that pretty much ensure voltage will run through its victims. I opted out of the two shocking obstacles as I did not see a reason to put myself through those again.
However, the spirit of the event did not change much from the previous year. The excited group that I started with was reminded that no one was guaranteed tomorrow and that going through the course required team work and assisting others throughout the day.
Using participants to build up the "Pyramid Scheme," others would climb up a slippery and slanted wall that only worsened as mud was flung about it. That was approximately half way through the trek.
As we began to climb up the section underneath the Canyon Quad lift, there was a resurgence of energy. The end or the bottom of the hill was in sight, although not for long. There were still five more miles with plenty of obstacles ahead.
At that point, we had already went through the "Arctic Enema," which was on another face of the mountain known as Carinthia. It was colder this time.
There was skepticism about the event being in May; last year it was held in August. I thought it would be too cold with all the obstacles involving water. It was just the opposite.
The cooler air and not so brutal sun, when it did briefly appear, provided the perfect atmosphere to an exhausting yet rewarding challenge.
With the recent rainfall, there was mud everywhere. Those conditions did make things more difficult for the spectators, who were losing shoes themselves.
When it's over, there's always the same question: Would you do it again?
As teammate Jack Deming came across the finish line to conclude his first Tough Mudder, he quickly contemplated that question.
"Ask me again in 11 months," he laughed.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.
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