Tough Mudder 2012 "Michigan"
Just got back from the 2012 "Michigan" Tough Mudder (it's actually in NE Ohio). Excellent event, and a great cause. I encourage anyone considering attending one to go ahead and pull the trigger. Here are some take-aways:
Training. People tend to freak out about training for this thing. As its more of a test of overall physical and mental ability, there really isn't any great way to specifically train for this event. Just live an overall decent healthy lifestyle by being in reasonable shape. I will say you might want to be able to handle your body weight decently (ie, be able to do a few pull ups....if you have trouble pulling yourself out of an above ground pool, maybe you should worry). Its nice to have running ability...but you don't hardly run more than a mile consecutively.
How to run course. To me, it seems there are three levels to attempt this.
Race it. (which is discouraged because of the emphasis on teamwork, and because there are a ton of people..vast majority consider time of completion a secondary goal).
First-attempt obstacle completion. This is what I did. My team had 18 people in it, and we didn't really wan to abandon anyone so the "rabbits" would typically run ahead and wait at the next obstacle for everyone else. When they showed up, we would negotiate the obstacle together. Anyway, to help increase the challenge level, my personal focus for the event was to complete each obstacle on the first try. Really, that's not a big deal for most. Probably the most difficult are the half-pipe, monkey bars, and ring swing....I guess some had issues with Berlin Walls as well. The only one I failed was the ring swing, which I'm pissed about...next time (I made a tactical error). Unless you have a physical disability, please don't skip any obstacles. I think you would really regret it later, and it really will take away the whole point of doing something (ie we had claustrophobic guys still go through tunnels even though they were freaking, and people afraid of heights still jump off the high platform into water, etc). Additionally, my personal challenge goal was to complete as many obstacles without help as I could. Still with my team mates, and we would standby in case we needed each others help and provide encouragements, but we tried to figure out a way through every obstacle solo first time (I think there were two obstacles I could not figure out by myself, plus the one I failed at).
Completion. If your goal is to just complete this thing, then you are in the majority. There were plenty of people there with little apparent physical conditioning who made it through. Again, this is a group event...so whatever physical limitations you have, your teammates (or randoms near you) will help you negotiate obstacles.
About Ohio course. Parking was offsite with busses taking you to event. It was really well done. They recommend two hour early arrival, and I would say thats pretty smart. Course was fun and a lot of events were built into the natural elements provided by Amherst Quarry. Trudging through mud creeks, running up and down piles of rock and sand, and swimming in the quarry lake was really run. Its located about 30 min from Cleveland and maybe 30-40 from Sandusky...so if you make a weekend of it, theres stuff to do. I will caution that Amherst is a little town, so you may be hard-pressed to find hotels that are really close (15 min or less drive distance) unless you book early. Oh, the aid stations were great throughout the course. I think there were five for among the 12 mile route. They had things like heat blankets and first aid stations (no on on our team needed that, but every station I went through there was one or two people there). Drinking water and rinse stations. And some calorie replacements like banana pieces and organic energy fruit snacks (the fruit snacks were the ****!)
There were a lot of vendor tents, which none of us felt complled to visit. There was a stage with some music, which was nice, and had a talented singer, but no one in my team really got into that. Registration was not bad at all. There was a really nice bag check that was super convenient. There were some pallets with garden hoses for showering off...which, to me, is a necessity. You got a really nice, free, Tough Mudder Under Armor shirt, the famous orange bandana, and a beer at the finish line. Plus they were handing out some sponsor samples (deodorant, sample Myoplex pouch, FRS recovery drink, etc).
Overall it was a great experience. I would recommend figuring out your team based on your goals (as mentioned above). Next time my friends and I decided we will group off on ability level. Literally there were a couple times where our muscles started to tighten up waiting for the rest of the team to catch up. I would recommend registering early to save money. If you want photos taken, it may be a good idea to have a friend/significant other come and take pictures. Only one of our team mates had a GF come take photos and she was able to get to six different obstacles (of the 27) which was more than I thought (it does cost $20 to watch, though...which is a little high).
Anyway, for people considering it and are a little hesitant...I would encourage registration and discourage any fear or reticence you have about the course. Its not nearly as bad as some make it out to be. Good luck, and have fun!