* From: Richard Berthao
* Event Details
The check in and registration was much improved and streamlined compared to past years. The printed ticket and scanning process really helped. It took me less than 10 minutes to check in and be on my way. The only flaw I noticed at check in was the number-on-your-forehead portion. In years past, there were volunteers that marked you at check in. This year, it was do it yourself and scrounge for a marker.
Parking was efficient but the cost was ridiculous considering it was free for several years.
Vendors were sufficient, there was plenty of choice for food, and there was the TM tent to buy any items you wanted.
Schwag was typical headband and shirt as with very other TM.
* Race Details
As Tough Mudder New England was my first OCR back in 2011, it was what inspired me to do more events. It has been the event I compared all others to. Having said that, Vermont 2014 was simply OK.
Beginning with the start line, I had a different feel compared to years past. The first thing I noticed was the MASSIVE crowd. Having done 5 TMs, this was the largest I recall. The start times were confusing and no one was really sure what was going on. There was a giant coral to move through a start line that was just the pre-start. Once we got to the start line, the usual “motivation” was pretty tame. Then we were off.
We began with the big hills which are always an obstacle in themselves. As we moved through the obstacles I noticed they were very lacking in terms of the “mud events.” The barbed wire crawl had a nice twist with going uphill. But the rest of the mud areas seemed lacking in mud and water.
Beyond the mud events, the tube crawls were very basic and were not submerged or very long. They were simply plastic tubes laying on the ground. For an event that was know for some challenging crawls in the dark, this was disappointing.
There was a mixture of some of the old standard obstacles and some new ones. Funky monkey, arctic enema, and walk the plank were there and had the long waits to complete them. Some of the new events like pyramid scheme were a good challenge and fun. But, one of the best and a personal favorite, Everest, was gone.
As a “Mudder Legionaire,” I got to do the legionnaires loop. It was interesting but nothing special. A few over and under set of walls and barbed wire, fake electroshock, and more boa constrictor tubes mixed with carry your wood. Fire in the hole was a fun event but not really an obstacle.
Overall, TM put on a well run event. No complaints from a logistical perspective. But, they really tamed it down and it didn’t seem “Tough” compared to past years. Hopefully this isn’t a trend because they have been a challenging event and a good alternative to their competitors for those who don’t want to do a “race.”
* From: Erick Coleman
* Event Details
Parking: Outstanding. We “treated” ourselves to VIP parking. $30 and we literally parked 50 yards from the changing tent. I’ve never parked in a better location. The $15 lots didn’t seem to be that far away, a little bit of a walk. I also saw privately run shuttles. One thing to consider there – we arrived at 6am, as our heat was at 8am. Therefore my shading on parking might be skewed. Upon leaving later, the lots were a sea of cars. Folks who arrived later may have a different tale to tell. For me, it was fantastic.
Vendors: The “after food” was okay. A BBQ area was set up. Quite pricey, but it was the same vendor / people who provide food during the ski season (it’s a ski resort, after all). So, what else would you expect? They had several other drink / vendors available as you walked around, it had a nice “community” feel to it.
Schwag: Finisher shirt is BASICALLY the same as last year, difference being last year’s had the TM “pledge” on the back (which was a nice touch). This year’s does not, only their slug line and some sponsors. It is a nice Under Armour shirt, however, and remains one of the best out there (one of the only ones I can actually wear after a race). There was supposed to be a schwag tent for Legionnaires only, it wasn’t there. There was two tents for gear, shirts, etc. I scored a cool / comfortable zip up hoodie (I love me some zip up hoodies).
Men’s and Women’s changing tents available. Typical cold showers as well. A wrinkle here: They offered a 5 minute hot shower for $5. Two of my teammates did it.
Sign in / registration: Initially it was pretty seamless and easy. Waivers at one table, get in line. I use Event Bright on my phone, and boom. I am in with my bib. Now I, and my team, had to find the Legionnaire tent (which adds a new wrinkle to just getting ready). This was on the OTHER SIDE of the event, closer to the starting line, and hard to find.
So, we hop in line for the Legionnaire wrist band. They had signs on the tent so you would place yourself in Alpha Order, I put myself in the correct line for my last name. The girl found my name, put a wrist band on me and then handed me a green 2x Mudder Headband. I didn’t think anything of it, but I thought it was a bit off. I hadn’t EARNED it yet. Maybe this was the way they do it? One of my teammates came over with a massive puzzled look on his face, and he is carrying a BLUE 3x Mudder head band. Another of my teammates comes over with just a wristband, saying none of us were supposed to get headbands, they hand them out at the end. I look at my wrist. Wrist band says 3x Mudder, as does my friend. I didn’t notice when they put it on.
This was our SECOND Mudder. ALL OF US. I was able to go back up and suddenly my alpha line had about 20 people in it. So, screw it. I had the band I was GOING to earn, put it in my CamelBak and off I went.
At the end of the race, to test what was going on, we all went to the Legion tent as we were instructed to do. We all wanted to see how together they were on this, as they (TM) stated they have this together, know exactly what they are doing, and no one is “getting over” on this. I was “awarded” a 3x Mudder headband. This coming summer I’ll be doing my third, but I haven’t yet. One of my teammates was “awarded” a yellow headband (I think it’s a 7x Mudder).
Registration: Initial / good
Legionnaire: EPIC FAIL, they have no clue what they are doing. If you see someone wearing a *whatever* color headband, I’m going to be suspect the person actually earned it.
(I took a pic of me with the blue one and then stored it away for the summer, I’m just not going to deal with the legion stuff at all this summer as I already have the headband and you literally don’t need the wrist band to get into the loop, as you will see…)
* Race Details
The race began with Starting Line Sean keeping us on our knees for a VERY long time. He received a call from someone, asking for a favor. A fellow Tough Mudder, in Georgia, has cancer. The cancer had been in remission, but he recently received “the bad call.” The Mudder asked Sean to call him for some inspiration. Sean was very candid while speaking to us, saying he didn’t know what to say. He began crying while speaking of this person. It was very touching. He came up with the idea that we all would inspire him and this would be “his wave.” They had a cam running the whole time and Sean called him, placing it on over speaker so we all could hear. The cam was on a pastor’s head, who happened to be a 10x TM, and he went all the way to the back of the heat. We “spoke” to the person on the phone, gave a lot of cheers and “hoorah’s.” It was LOUD. Instead of the canned National Anthem we sang the Anthem as a heat. It was amazing, loud, touching. Then Sean led us in
the Mudder pledge. Then the Dropkick Murphy’s “Ship It Up to Boston” began to blare over the speakers and the pastor, head cam on, body surfed to the front of the wave.
We counted down from 10 and off we went. Craig’s wave (8:20) was born…and I have a feeling you may see it on You Tube, because it was amazing. Hands down the best start to an OCR ever, and will never ever been replaced.
Now, to the race itself:
TM is supposed to be 10-12 miles, 25+ obstacles. This event was 10 miles on the nose and let me tell you this…
Mt. Snow is unforgiving. We spent the entire race going up, up, up. The race course was brutal and unrelenting. The weather was very odd. It was sunny and then the sun would vanish, however even with the sun, it was chilly at best and, at times, downright cold. Bursts of cold air that felt like a/c blasts, especially when the sun did it’s disappearing act. This was a blessing, due to the course design.
However, let’s talk about those 25+ obstacles…
If you did the Legion Loop, you got 19. 19. If you didn’t, I think the total was a little less. While a lot of people don’t like to compare previous races to current ones, I always do. My employer compares my performance to last year, so let me tell you what Tough Mudder decided to not do this year, and it was a huge let down:
Trench Warfare, Cage Crawl, Boa Constrictor, Electric Eel, Mt. Everest. Those are only the ones I WANTED to see, and weren’t there. Many more were missing.
One of the first obstacles was a short, however pretty brutal UP HILL barbed wire climb. It was STEEP and the wire was really, really low.
A lot of the staples were there, including Funky Monkey and Walk the Plank. Walk the Plank was so well run it wasn’t funny. A diver IN the water for each jumper. Only five jumpers at a time, next jumpers could not go until summers hit the nets. The old wood planks replaced with reinforced steel structure that could not be more secure. Basically the way it should have been from the start.
Emena was a bit of a bummer. Jumped in, went under, came up. It was FREEZING…but there was about 8 ice cubes floating around me. The last time, in 98 degree heat, there was so much ice I literally had to break through the surface. This was really cold, don’t get me wrong. But almost no ice.
New ones that were there:
Pole dance: This was an odd ish thing where you’re basically doing a dip type exercise, walking with your hands, on poles, over…solid ground. Your feet could touch the entire time. I saw pics on line about this one where people were over water. Not yesterday!
Balls to the Wall: This was a good one. 15 foot wall with a knotted rope and then beams / frames. Climb up, over, down. Looked easy, wasn’t.
Pyramid Scheme: This was BRUTAL. A curved and smooth surface, wet. Too long to get up, you literally need people’s help. We had a team of four, we didn’t have enough, you need more. We teamed up with a bunch of people and spent maybe :20 minutes there getting our team up and over, along with helping other people. You are GASED at the end of this. GASED. Brilliant.
Boa Constrictor seemed to be replaced by tubes that folks were jumping over at the same time. That was an interesting twist, crawling through a smooth tube (level ground), which the tube constantly moved and rolled while people jumped and rolled over the top of it from another direction.
Legionnaire Loop: Very disappointing. The course map states the loop will have “Fire In Your Hole” and two other “Mystery” obstacles.” You need to do 2 out of 3, you can opt out of one. Upon entering you come upon a very Warrior Dash-like set up. A four foot Berlin Wall, with a short barbed wire crawl, then a 5 foot wall, another short crawl, and then a 6 foot wall. From there you run into a “mini” Electric Shock Therapy. Upon leaving you find a sign that it was never on! Clever, actually! I saw a lot go around it. Then it was “hold your wood” with a twist. Do a loop, into tubes, up hill. Push the wood, and yourself, through the tubes. This actually sucked (and was very hard). THEN it was Fire In Your Hole. None of those obstacles prior to were anything “special.”
Fire In Your Hole: This IS cool. Truth be told, I was terrified. I don’t like heights. I told myself to just listen to the instructions, don’t think, and do it. I’m glad I did! It was great. And you really feel the fire when you go through it!! You hit the water VERY hard at the bottom.
The end of the race was odd. Legionnaires could do Electric Shock Therapy or go straight for a beer. We opted for EST. Usually you hit EST and the finish line was right there. Nope. Come out and no one really knew where to go. You can do go BACK up hill, around a corner, down hill and then to the finish. It kind of took the luster off things a bit.
I’ll say this about EST – I got whapped this year! Holy hell.
I wasn’t very muddy at the end of the race, even before the water slide at the end. One of my ‘mates skipped FIYH and wasn’t muddy. They were really missing things like “Miles of Mud.” It simply wasn’t a very hard race, obstacle rise. The mountain was brutal, of course.
Tough Mudder used to be a roaring tiger, pacing in the wild. Yesterday it was napping, safe behind a cage. Growing pains? Trying to be all things for all people? Results of the lawsuit? Random from one race? We will see.
Total race experience: B-