Tough Mudder South West 2018 – Badminton Estate
A quick point before the rest of this – I haven’t taken part in a Tough Mudder for about 2 years, and while I knew they held events near this area I had no idea that there was a race being held in South Gloucestershire – very close to where I live. I follow Tough Mudder on their social media accounts yet see very little from them and somehow missed any information about their events this year. Having realised I knew nothing about what Tough Mudder is like since I last went in 2016, I thought it would be a great idea to go and see for myself!
Setting off in a mid-morning wave, myself and Mark Turner from Turner Videos appeared to be in a bit of a minority – while we were a duo almost everybody else was in a group of probably around 10 people. Of course this is Tough Mudder’s whole deal – they are all about teamwork, helping each other out, and having a good time with your mates, and people were definitely having a good time from the warm up to any time we reached an obstacle. Having a group of friends around you as you drag yourself through some of these obstacles, especially if this is your first obstacle event, is a brilliant way to have some real fun.
That’s not to say that nobody came alone – there were plenty of people still going out to run this hard (not including the earlier competitive wave) – and in doing so would have faced a hell of a challenging route. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Tough Mudder put on a simple ‘fun run’ – from the flat grounds of Badminton Estate where the miles rack up, to hitting these big obstacles which are designed to be overcome as a team, running a Tough Mudder course is no easy feat.
Speaking of the Badminton Estate grounds – surrounding the manor house were endless spreads of fields containing the obstacles, keeping us on flat ground for the whole route. There were long stretches between obstacles which seemed to have caught a lot of people out early on perhaps expecting a bit more of a condensed obstacle course, but this is a 10 mile course afterall! That distance has to be made up and without putting in some running it could be a very long day!
But What About The Obstacles?
All of Tough Mudder’s signature obstacles were there for our pleasure, among walls (short, tall, inverted), the muddy crawls, a surprising sternum checker, hay bales, and more we had the Arctic Enema quite early on which could have been strangely refreshing amid the warm weather we’ve been having but queues were already starting to form at this point so we were cold before getting in, followed closely by Electroshock Therapy which is just hilarious. Seriously. No, seriously. I honestly could have stayed all day watching people run through with pure terror across their faces as they take a zap.
Funky Monkey is a great setup, with monkey bars leading to a fast-spinning wheel, flinging most straight into the water below, while Kong Infinity is a strange but very creative design and managed by a great deal of people despite being pretty hard, technical and the height being nerve wracking.
As mentioned, certain obstacles were pretty much designed to be completed using team work. The classic Everest now has rubber to make it more manageable but there were still crowds gathering at the top from the get-go, all offering a helping hand to the next person making their way up. Blockness Monster and Pyramid Scheme were both hard work, with mudders contending against the water around them as well as the obstacle itself but everybody becomes a team at these moments, getting through together and having a laugh while doing it.
The route around Badminton Estate was awesome for spectators – with maps provided showing which routes to take and the big obstacles near event village, anybody attending for support will have had just as much fun watching. The event village was buzzing all day, with loads of stalls (most giving out free samples and products), competitions, and general good feeling in the air. There was just a great atmosphere all round and it was obvious that this wasn’t just an obstacle race for most people, it was a big fun day out, experiences shared with friends and colleagues, and a challenge that was overcome as a group.
There’s often a lot of talk about Electroshock Therapy as an obstacle, with people citing it as a reason not to even do a Tough Mudder. Realistically you can complain about it all you want; it is a horrible feeling, there’s no particular physical challenge to it and obviously you can’t really train for something like that, it can knock you down etc. However apart from the fact that it’s only a tiny part of the course and is over before you really know it, what it comes down to is this:
and at the end of the day isn’t that all that matters?
Whether you’ve never done a Tough Mudder before or haven’t done one for a long time, do yourself a favour and go along to one either by yourself or preferably with a few mates. It’s worth the money and you’ll have a brilliant day out.
Written by me: Keith Fairburn
Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach.
Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.