* From: Aaron Farb
* Event: Tough Mudder Great Northeast
* Date: 2015-09-26
* Event Details
This past weekend saw the return of Tough Mudder to New England in a venue besides Mt. Snow, the 2nd year they have visited Westbrook, ME. Held at a golf course and surrounding lands 20 minutes west of Portland, the venue was decidedly different than previous events held at ski areas.
Parking was offsite, and multiple different lots – you received an email (multiple) the week prior directing you to a specific lot – Red or Blue. I was in Red lot, a large office complex as far as I could tell and arrive there 2 hours prior to the expected race time. Plenty of volunteers directing, but double the normal parking fee at $20. Shuttles were constantly moving, thanks to plenty of them – I never saw less than 6 buses at either end for racers to use, and a 10 minute ride had us at the venue.
Check-in was super fast – quick waiver, they scan your ticket or barcode on your phone for e-ticket and assign you a bib number right there – means any line can handle anyone – makes the wait so much less! The only wait I did have in fest/checkin was to get my Mudder Legionarre wristband, 1 of 5 (five!!) wristbands I had to have for the start line. For those who haven’t raced a Tough Mudder, they have a bonus to people who have raced multiple times – you get to access special obstacles at the end and bypass the electro-shock as well if wanted, and you get extra headbands in different colors denoting the amount of Tough Mudders that you’ve completed (more schwag? Yes please!). The festival area was set up in a giant circle, with the merch tent in the center & beer tent backing up to it, everything else was on the outside of this circle. Cellucor was giving away c4 pre-workout and multiple food vendors were on hand – Chipolte is a corporate sponsor, so they are always there as well as an icee vendor, Italian food and another food truck I’m forgetting. Chipolte was also sponsoring the hamster wheel challenge – contestants used a giant hamster wheel as monkey bars to spit the wheel as many full rotations as possible – winner for the weekend for m/f gets a year of free Chipolte. Imagine a giant hamster wheel 7 feet in the air – contestants hang from the bottom rung and ‘walk’ their way around, making wheel spin by reaching for the next rung – a giant rotating monkey bar set. Otherwise, around the fest were the bathrooms, gear check, and changing & shower area on one side and the start corral and finish area snaking around the other. Bag check was another $10 (used to be $5), with nothing offered in return (ie, merch credit as other races do). Of course, visible from the fest area was also the final obstacle – Electroshock therapy – the live wire run thru, to provide viewing pleasure for all throughout the day.
Schwag was a bit of a disappointment – a nice gym towel made with wicking material, the requisite orange headband, and if a Legionarre, 2nd headband in other colors depending on how many races this was and the big let down, a cotton t-shirt. Seems very wrong that the race that started the tech shirts for racers , with an actual UnderArmour heatgear has now gone to a generic cotton t.
* Race Details
Finding a few other Spahtens, we made our way to the start corral for the noon team wave and were given another c4 if wanted. The waves were put into a ‘holding area’ and were led thru a warmup session before actually moving to the start line. Typical start line hype, although I have to say I do miss the original TM start line announcer – he was the best in the business, but finally, off we go! The course snaked along for a ways, using a lot of smaller trails between holes on the golf course and some wooded areas alongside.
I won’t go thru obstacle by obstacle, just a few high/low lights. Tough Mudder has always been one of the better innovators on obstacles and usually making some good evolutions on staples to always have something different. Tough Mudder also prides itself on making some obstacles that are almost impossible to complete as an individual and some that specifically challenge people with certain phobias – heights? Claustrophia? Water? All accounted for here!
Some of the Mudder staples were here, including Arctic Enema – ice water plunge – that has been changed to now have a slide for an entrance so you can’t lower yourself slowly – a great addition. Problem here was that only one tank was used, leading to long lines. Every other Mudder I’ve done has had multiple tanks – as many as 6 or more at Snow – leaving only 2 or 3 person waits, versus the 20+ minutes spent here. Leap of Faith, the obstacle where a person died a few summers ago is one of the evolutions – it is now King of Swingers – a 12’ tall platform above water with a jump (can’t just reach it, have to jump – gives a great swing too) to a trapeze bar that swings just far enough to barely reach a bell on the end of the swing. Talk about a ton of fun! Yet again, needed more lanes – only had 4 swings and we had a 30+ minute wait here. Funky Monkey is another constant evolution to monkey bars – having seen this go from wooden rigs with greased and/or rotating bars to incline/decline metal bars to the new incline metal bars, transition onto a swing that delivers you to a long down pipe to traverse. Great addition and for once, no real lines! Pyramid Power is a newer obstacle, one that is almost impossible by yourself. It’s a 30’ long slant wall covered with Teflon panels and then set on an angle of around 30 degrees – not possible to just run up. Instead, everyone forms human pyramids from the bottom, using shoulders to support the person above and having everyone climb up your body using a knee, elbow, hand, etc as an anchor. Just a lot of fun to laugh and help each other in ways not seen in other races. Everest was also back – a large quarter pipe covered in Teflon panels to prevent running right up them. Previously, the top lip was a standard wood or metal bar easy to grab – this year, the Teflon panels rolled over the top and continued for about a foot back from the lip, meaning the run, grab & jump had to go much higher/further. I know it really messed w/ my ability to grab without help from other racers catching me to let me grab the further lip. This was also the smallest iteration of Everest I’ve yet seen, only about 40’ long as opposed to others that have been 2 – 3 times as wide, allowing many more racers to attempt it at any time – especially since many people take multiple attemps to make it up! In this case, it wasn’t a big deal as I only waited a few people before I could have my attempt. Birthcanal is another newer obstacle I’d yet to experience in a previous Mudder . This was a crawl with large tarps strung over the crawl lanes – the tarps are then filled with large amounts of water, pressing down on you as you crawl through. The higher you keep your body, they more weight you must move to keep going forward – nothing very difficult, but if you have claustrophic issues, might not be too fun! Finally, we reached the end of the course at just under 11miles and the Legionarre loop. Previously, this included the amazing ‘Fire in your hole’ a huge slide lauching you through a giant fireball, but today was a wooden structure to climb up, walk down and then jump to an airbag from 8-10’ up – nothing compared to ‘fire’. Then loop around for Electroshock, feel the burn and onto the finish line for headbands.
Overall, had a lot of fun on the course and no big issues for the day – just small things – build the course to support the amount of racers that are running. Don’t charge double what other races (and your own race charged just last year) for the standards – parking and gear check. Make it so I can run w/out needing an extra arm just to keep all the wristbands I’m supposed to carry – gear check, 21+, beer tag (they put it on at reg, no choice to not have it), legionarre, and race/wave entrance. And as the originator or sweet finisher t-shirts, gotta get back to that – I have multiple black tech shirts from years past for mudder, but none that are 2015 finisher to add to the collection. The obstacles are great – builds are always solid, huge and innovative – fix a few small things and be back to the mudder that you’ve been!