1) Newsflash: it’s very muddy
We’re talking more mud than that Glastonbury in 2007 when all the tents sank. And so many different TYPES of it too: sticky, dark chocolate cake mud which clumps onto your knees, pale clay mud which makes your hair go crispy (upshot: free hair mask!), deceptively deep gloopy bogs of mud which suck the trainers off your feet. Worst is the watery, grainy mud-in-disguise which soaks right through your clothes and smells a bit pond-y. Get the picture? A LOT of mud.
2) Don't bring your Cos handbag
Like I did. You might as well bring a big old sign that says 'hello everyone, I do not belong here'
3) About those electric shocks
Tough Mudder's 12-mile course is filled with obstacles roughly modelled on the ones used to torture Demi Moore in G.I Jane. The real PR-grabbers are those involving live electric wires. The first, Electric Eel, is a cage of low hanging electrified tentacles you have to shimmy your way through on your belly without being shocked. You know that Wire Loop Game where you have to get a loop as far along a bendy wire as possible without making it beep? It's like that, except in this case YOU are the wire loop and the ‘beep’ noise is the sound of your agonised screams.
4) Here’s the thing though...
The electric shocks might get all the air time, but it’s the ice bath that really separates the men from the boys - a great ice cube and water-filled shipping container which causes a brain freeze so intense I staggered out clutching my forehead like Harry Potter. Anyway, never mind because....
5) There’s a warm up dude!
Race starters get into the zone with a ten minute pep talk from a man who appears to have been trained at the acting school of Mr T. ‘I AIN’T GOT NO TIME FOR WHINERS!’ he yells in a vague transatlantic accent, then makes you do lunges to ‘Eye of The Tiger’. He’ll also give you a high five as you run across the start line. I liked him.
6) It’s quite nice being a lady
The Tough Mudder contestant pool tends to be about 70% male and can be roughly divided into three broad types:
1) The ‘I Bench 300’ Beefcake (good on the monkey bars, not so good at all the running in between)
2) The Lean Cardio Dude (aiming to finish in a time, slinks around the course in under two hours)
3) The Have-a-go Lad (had a few pints the night before, is wearing a pink tutu over his shorts and might need to stop and have a little cry at mile 8)
Good news is, 99% of these guys turn into model gents whenever you get close to the ten-foot wall and need a lift up or a hand down (and no-one, not even the 'I Bench 300' Beefcakes, can get over these walls alone - this is pure, heartwarming, all-for-one, office away day stuff). The sense of group camaraderie peaks at the final obstacle, Everest, a huge slippery half pipe which you have to sprint up and grab the ledge of to get over. It's unwritten Tough Mudder code that all available ‘I Bench 300 Beefcakes’ must hang themselves over the edge and grab the arms of runners in need of help. When I flung myself up the slope I was caught by a muscly chap in a neon lycra vest. ‘I’ve got you. Don’t you let go’ he said as I dangled in the air like a wet dishcloth. For a brief and very unbritish moment we were mud running's answer to Leo and Kate.
7) It’s really a lot of fun I promise
The thing about running a very long way is it’s often quite a boring and solitary affair. But there is nothing boring or solitary about Tough Mudder. In all the endless mud, water and medieval obstacles you will have a weird amount of fun. You will also hurt a lot the next day. And you will probably sign up to do it again next year...
Thank you to the nice people at Tough Mudder for their unfettered enthusiasm