Wednesday, January 4, 2012

World's Toughest Mudder 2011 Obstacles Explained Englishtown, NJ Dec. 17 & 18, 2011




Two weeks after this big event I finally have part 1 of my WTM experience ready to share. I decided to do a detailed description of each obstacle to give you a feel for what it is like and to help with my part 2 so I don't have to explain each obstacle as I go through my event experience. I pulled together as many pictures and videos as possible from the internet to give you the best experience and help you see what each obstacle was like. I will be posting my experience report within the next couple of days. In total there were 38 (40 were planned) obstacles on each lap. Each lap was approximately 10 miles. My bib # is 402. I completed 4 laps in 24.5 hrs. The winner completed 6 laps in 24 hrs, so I was not considered an "Official Finisher" but with the 4 laps I completed in the time I did it in I was 36th out of the 1,000 entrants. After this race quickly turned into a survival experience with the freezing temps as low as 24 degrees and windchill of 15 degrees, my new goal was to return home will all my fingers and toes intact. Two and a half weeks later my finger tips, toes, and bottom of feet are still a little numb/tingly. Not sure how close I came to actual frostbite. Anyway, grab a warm cup of hot chocolate and a yummy Clif Bar (Chocolate Mint Builder Bar is my fav), pull up a comfy chair and enjoy the read :)

Course Map



1. Insane Bolt Video (http://youtu.be/E44nP42XRns)

This was when we first started the race. When the gun went off, we had 2 minutes and 30 seconds to sprint a quarter mile before this giant wall closed off the passage around it. Anyone that did not make it through the passage had to run a penalty lap of half mile.

2. The Jesus Walk Video (http://youtu.be/hJ516kW2psA)

This obstacle was approximately 50 yards in length and approximately 15 yards wide. It was a large pit filled with very cold muddy water. The water was only about 2 feet deep, but in random spots World Tough Mudder race organizers (WTM) dug holes 5-6 feet deep, which could not be seen under the water. We had to walk carefully as we would randomly step and keep falling until we were all the way submerged in water, then swim out of the hole and continue walking on the 2 feet deep section until we fell into another one.

3. Mud Mile

The Mud Mile was similar to the Jesus walk, but much longer. It was also a very large pit approximately 15 yards wide, but approximately a quarter mile in length. This immediately followed the Jesus Walk. The bottom was uneven, muddy, and also had random holes and drop offs, again all of which you were not able to see under water. In the Mud Mile, we would have to walk about 50 yards, then climb up out of the pit and jump over an approximate 5.5 foot high wood wall with nothing to step on in front. Once over the wall, we had to jump back into another pit and trudge through 50 more yards to the next wall. We continued this for four walls. Once past the last wall, there was a short mucky, muddy section to crawl through, then onto a dry dirt trail.

4. Get Railed

This obstacle was located in the middle of the motocross dirt track. This had a water pit approximately 15 feet long with water approximately 5 feet deep. WTM bolted together large 3 inch diameter steel pipes that spanned the 15 foot length water pit. The bars rested approximately 8 feet above the water. The goal on this obstacle was to cross using only your arms as if doing bar dips. The use of legs was outlawed, so we were not able to swing our legs up to help. This was a penalty obstacle, if you fell into the cold water you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

5. Devil’s Beard Video (http://youtu.be/-zdadUeFac0)

This is a large plastic cargo net that is staked down tightly along the ground. It was approximately 15 feet wide and 30 yards long. This is also located on a section of the motocross track. The beginning of it started at the bottom of a steep hill and climbed 30 yards up. For this obstacle, we squeeze under the net at the beginning then, crawl/bear crawl all the way up the hill. The difficult part of this one is since the net is pulled tight, it puts downward pressure on you as you are crawling up.

6. Razor’s Edge

This was a large wood structure that almost went straight up and straight down on the other side. This was the last obstacle in the motocross track section. It was approximately 20 feet wide and the stop stood 30 feet high. For this we had to start on one side, climb up rope cargo nets all the way to the top, flip over to the other side, and climb down the rope cargo nets on the other side.

7. Electroshock Therapy Video (http://youtu.be/7hK5q8jkPo0)

This is one of their signature obstacles with electricity and live wires. WTM constructed a wood frame structure that stood approximately 12 feet high and 10 feet wide, and approximately 25 yards in length. Within the structure, WTM strung live wires that hung down approximately 7 feet, leaving the ends of them approximately 5 feet from the ground. Doesn’t sound too bad, but the problem is, there are a series of 4 wet and muddy hay bale walls standing 4 to 5 feet high that stretch the width of the structure. To start over the first set of hay bales, you have to get down into a mud pit. Then, as carefully as possible, you slide over the hay bales, trying to sneak between wires and not get shocked, then drop face first into the next mud pit and crawl to the next set of hay bales and repeat. A hard part is the wires are only approximately 1.5 feet apart, so not much room to squeeze through. As they were dangling, they also blew side to side in the wind making it virtually impossible to get through this obstacle without being zap with electricity at least a couple times. This was a penalty obstacle, if you did not make it through you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

8. Turd’s Nest

This obstacle consisted of climbing up a wide 2 x 4 ladder to the top of a large metal shipping container that you find on the back of semi-truck trailers. Once at the top, there was a large rope cargo net approximately 20 feet wide by 25 feet long that crossed the span to another large metal shipping container on the other end. The rope cargo net has many holes approximately 5 inch by 5 inch. This makes it difficult to cross too fast, because you have to concentrate where your hands and feet are placed to avoid slipping an arm or leg through and your body catching your body weight. One method is to jump on and roll as your body will not slip through like your foot or hand could. The other option is to walk slowly across paying attention to hand and foot placement. Once to the other side, we had to climb up and out on a wood platform on the top of the metal shipping container, then climb down another set of wooden ladders. This was a penalty obstacle, if you did not make it across you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

9. Berlin Walls #1 Video (http://youtu.be/VIzs3htefZ4 )

This first set of walls was approximately 9 feet high and were smooth faced, so nothing to boost yourself or get traction on. When fellow Tough Mudders are around, we would help give each other a boost up and over. When alone, it is difficult to grab the top and swing a leg up over the top and use your leg and arms to pull yourself over. There a set of three walls at this obstacle to overcome. This was a penalty obstacle, if you could not make it over the walls you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

10. Island Hopping Video (http://youtu.be/3Xos_NSmu4I)

This was actually a very fun obstacle. It reminded me of something out of the TV show, Wipe Out, except these are not padded. In this obstacle we cross an icy cold large pond by leaping almost as frogs from one miniature floating dock to another. WTM made mini 3 foot by 3 foot floating docks out of ply wood. We start at one end and leap across the large pond jumping on a total of 9 of these docks. The tricky part with this is each one is approximately 4 to 6 feet apart and since they are so small, they are very unstable. There was also only one strip of carpet covering the top edge closest to you on the next dock to jump on. This took off the sharp edge for that section, but it did not offer much padding if you hit it right on. Once the lead foot landed on the next dock, it was good to put your chest to the wood and bear hug the dock. Once stabilized, then you would stand up and quickly jump to the next one. This was extremely difficult during the night and in the morning after these literally became frozen floating ice cubes, just covered in slick ice.


11. Funky Monkey Video (http://youtu.be/QDmXlSAtirc)

This is your favorite monkey bars on the school yard growing up, but on mega steroids. WTM constructed this framed house looking structure that spanned 40 feet or so across a large pond of ice cold water. The monkey bars were metal and each once was lathered in grease to make it harder to grip. At the starting end, you cross suspended from the bars approximately 20 feet or so at a gradual incline, then once at the middle point, you go another 20 feet at a gradual decline and step off on to dry ground. At the middle point the bars are approximately 15 feet high off the surface of the water below. At any point along the way if you fall in the water, you have to swim towards the outside of the obstacle and swim underneath boards they have slightly submerged under water so you have to go all the way under and once on the other side swim to the way to shore.

12. Creek Crusade

The creek crusade was at the beginning of the bog section with lots of stinky mud and dense trees. This section was joggable for the most part, but lots of thick smelly mud. There is a creek here that did not have much water in in, but it was about a 5 foot drop into some mud where the creek normally is and 4 feet wide, then we had to climb the 5 feet out with muddy sides. There was nothing to help get out except a few small tree roots to grab on to at the top to help pull yourself out.

13. Log Bog Jog

This was approximately a quarter mile long through the bog and dense trees. We followed a trail that was very muddy and again the mud in this section was very stinky and thick as it is normally a bog. There were downed trees across the trail that we had to climb over and under.

14. Spider’s Web

At the very end of the bog section was this spider’s nest. Strung across the trail from one tree to another was a taught steel cable about 15 feet up. And draped over that was some more of the rope cargo net which is the same used for razor’s edge and the turds nest. The tough part about this one is since it was just draped over the taught steel cable above, the net was free dangling, so when climbing we didn’t have anything to push against to keep us from swaying back and forth. It took more energy to stabilize ourselves and especially once we got to the top and needed to roll over the top to come down the other side.

15. Peg Legs

True to it’s name. This crossed a muddy water pit of approximately 30 feet long. The point of this obstacle was to cross by stepping on the ends of sections of different lengths of trees that were cut and stuck standing straight up out of the water. The diameter on the top of each one was about 12 inches so you were able to place one foot on each one. There were about ten of these sticking up at different heights so the trick to these were to just keep your forward momentum going putting one foot on and jumping to the next before you slowed down or lost your balance. This was a penalty obstacle, if you fell into the cold water you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

16. Devil’s Beard

This obstacle was not there.

17. Kiss of Mud Video (http://youtu.be/6Xo6SRokhsM)

In the local Tough Mudder events, this one is normally an army crawl under barbwire for about 40 feet or so and is normally just a straight shot on flat level ground. This was probably closer to 80 feet or so with a curved turn and half way through started to go uphill. This required army crawling the entire way which became quite tiring as we had to stay below the barbwire just a few inches above us. Trying to crawl up the inclines on our bellies proved to be energy draining. The first time through this my awesome Camelbak kept getting caught on the barbwire while I crawled so at the end of the first lap, I made the decision to leave my awesome Camelbak in the pit area.

18. Boa Constrictor Video (http://youtu.be/bAp9jYsKc-Y)

This one is a classic Tough Mudder obstacle to make anyone who is claustrophobic second guess going through this. This involves crawling through two 20 foot long pvc landscape drainage pipes that are about 1.5 feet in diameter. You enter the first one, which is at a slight decline, which goes down into a muddy water pit at the end of it. The inside is pretty smooth with nothing to grab. The way down is easy because you can just push yourself to slide down pretty easy. It is dark inside and the only light you see is at the end there are a few inches of space between the top of the pipe and the top of the muddy water. So, as you get closer to the end you start crawling through the water in the pipe. Once you pop out the end of this one, you have to stay low in the muddy water pit as there is barbwire about 1 foot above your head and swim about 6 feet to the beginning of the next pipe. Again there is only a few inches of space between the top of the pipe and the top of the muddy water. Once you enter this pipe, it is a 20 foot crawl up a gradual incline. With nothing to grab onto inside this pipe and being soaking wet, it is a little difficult to climb up. It is a slow process since the tube is not large enough to crawl, you have to stay in a laying position on your stomach the entire time. The most effective way I found to crawl up this is reach my hands as far in front of me as possible, grasp them together, and wedge my elbows out along the sides of the pipe. Then with all the pressure on my elbows acting as a wedge, I would use my back muscles and abs to pull my body up a foot. Again, this was a slow and tiring process.

19. Shake n Bake

This is similar to a more traditional kiss of mud obstacle, but with a twist. Right at the beginning of it is a muddy water pit that is probably dug out 7 feet or so. You have to jump in that to make sure you are completely wet, then you crawl out and have to army crawl 40 feet or so under barbwire inches from your head. Instead of crawling through mud, they actually scattered peat moss all over very thick so it stunk and while crawling or rolling through it, it literally covered you like a piece of chicken in a Ziploc bag with Shake n Bake crumbs. This extra layer actually felt great because it added a layer of brief warmth and it seemed that the cold wind was blocked while crawling through it.


20. Log Jammin

Log Jammin is similar to an obstacle we had at the Nor Cal Tough Mudder, but again, much more difficult. This obstacle was probably 80 to 100 feet long. What it was is a lot of downed trees that were laying across the path strategically placed so we had to climb over and under constantly for the full length. These trees were not stacked neatly. There were many narrow holes we had to squeeze through and under with some good mud on the very bottom to slide through.

21. Twinkle Toes

This is the standard Twinkle Toes at normal Tough Mudder events but for this they nailed down a 1.5 inch wide piece of wood on top to make it more narrow. For this WTM takes 30 foot long wood floor support beams for building and spans a pool of cold muddy water. The idea with this one is to balance on this beam all the way across to the other side and not falling into the cold water below. This was a penalty obstacle, if you fell into the cold water you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.


22. Trench Warfare

This was another one that would make anyone who is claustrophobic think twice. First, you drop into a mud pit, then you see a dark hole about 2 feet diameter in front of you. The top is barely high enough to crawl. Once inside there is pretty much no light. The ground is muddy and cold. In this we crawl about 30 feet, then it takes a sharp left for 10 feet, then another sharp right for 10 more feet and you can see a little bit of daylight out of the top. Once at the end you crawl out of the muddy black hole.

23. Hangin’ Tough Video (http://youtu.be/CYQmIpEd5Tc)

Any gymnast would love these. This had a series of rings hanging down about 8 feet above cold muddy water. To start, you stand on a wood platform, then grab your first ring and start swinging across one ring to the next until you cross the 25 feet or so and make it to the other side on the dry platform. On this one if you fall in the cold water the penalty was to swim across and once you get out you had to wait 5 minutes in the cold wind until you could continue on.

24. The Factory

When you come up to this structure there is free dangling rope hanging down with a few knots tied in it. To conquer this obstacle we climbed the rope to a wood platform approximately 12 feet high. Once on the small platform, on the opposite side from the rope there is a small dark hole with another drop. It is a straight drop for about 10 feet, and then at the bottom it rounds out like a quarter pipe. There is black plastic strips covering the exit so you can’t see what you are going to slide into. To get down we dropped off this ledge and sliding through the black plastic we land right into a cold mud pit. This was a penalty obstacle, if you could not make it up you have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

25. Rubbernecking

There is a large pile of car tires. WTM used large zip ties to connect two full size rubber tires together. We had to grab a pair of tires and carry them around a quarter mile track. The best way to carry them I discovered for myself was to put the part they were joined together with the zip tie at my back and put my arm through each tire so I essentially wore it like a backpack with one on each shoulder.

26. Tired Yet

Immediately after the Rubbernecking, we had to climb over a small 5 foot high hill of rubber tires, then cross a field of tires laid out on the ground approximately 30-40 yards long.

27. Berlin Walls #2 Video (http://youtu.be/NczLe42Rz-o)

These are similar to Berlin walls #1, but these are a little taller. These ones are approximately 12 feet high. We had to climb over four of these here. This was a penalty obstacle, if you could not make it over the walls you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

28. Bale Bonds Video (http://youtu.be/MWdJW3XtrJ8)

This was a series of the large rolled hay bales stacked up 2 high. On approach of this obstacle there was a line of normal square hay bales to jump over. Following that was the first set of the rolled up hay bales. These are a little tricky to climb as the hay is slick and there really is not much to grab on to, but half way up they did offer a soft, warm spot to take a quick break from the cold wind. After climbing the first set of rolled up hay bales, there was another line of square hay bales to jump over before the next set of rolled bales. There were a total of 4 sets of the rolled hay bales to climb over.

29. High Steppin’ (Video included in the second half of the Bale Bonds video)

This is a series of approximately 15 short walls about 3 feet high and only 4 feet in between them. Since they are so close together, it was not really possible to get any speed in between them to help go over the next. They are made of solid wood, so they do not fall over if we tried to attach these hurdle style and ended up hitting one.

30. The Meat Locker

WTM set a large metal shipping container (the size of the semi-truck trailers) on the trail and opened the doors on both ends. It was dark inside with the only light being a strobe light at the end of the shipping container. They also had a fog machine at that end that filled the container with fog as if we were walking into a freezer. From the top of the container they attached large rubber tires by rope. It was hard to tell how many, but they had them crammed in there so you had to constantly push tires out of the way all the way through. Some of them were heavy and would spin when you tried to push them.

31. Electric Eel Video (http://youtu.be/5MgiAIZG3HQ)

This was the second electric obstacle on the lap. If running through them getting zapped was not bad enough, this one made you army crawl through water all the way across while getting zapped by the dangling wires. This obstacle was approximately 60-70 feet long. We entered at the beginning on our bellies slithering into the pool of water which was about 4 inches deep of water. The wires were strung all the way across maybe one foot above our head, but along the top wire there was a piece of wire about 6 inches long that hung down. These wires hanging down were placed about 1.5 feet apart. So, there was really nowhere to slither across without touching them. Just like the electroshock therapy obstacle, it is best to move through as fast as you can. This one was a guaranteed shock so you best get moving. Since you are laying in water, one shock gets your whole body and if someone else in the water gets shocked, you will to as it travels through the water. This was a penalty obstacle, if you did not make it through you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

32. Everest Video (http://youtu.be/fWcA7sC0ZcQ)

Everest is a classic obstacle that will be found at all Tough Mudder events. It is a quarter pipe that stands about 12-15 feet high. The surface is lined with thin and slick white plastic sheets. To make this one even tougher for this event, it was coated with a layer of vegetable oil. The shoes did not like this. The key for this obstacle is to get a running start and keep running up until you can’t run any further up. Once you get to that point, just leap up and grab the edge then pull yourself up. As traditional with the tough mudders, we are encouraged to help each other. Once you make it to the top it is a nice gesture to spend a few minutes at the top and help grab others and pull them up. My shoes of choice for this event to help get me up over these obstacles and the shoes I prefer in all of my ultra runs are the Montrail Mountain Masochists. Fleet Feet Sports Roseville/Fair Oaks provided me with some nice Dry Max socks. They are great at wicking away moisture. This was a penalty obstacle, if you did not make it up you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

33. Massive Turd Video (http://youtu.be/ZPKfkMGRS8Y)

Oh, the Massive Turd. WTM comes up with some creative names. This is a gigantic turds nest. The highest point of this is 3 shipping containers high. First, we climb up the wood ladders from the ground to the top of the first shipping container. There is then a turds nest that spans a distance of 30 to 40 feet and at the other end are some webbing ladders that climb 15 up to another platform. Once on the platform there is another short climb up some wooden ladders to the turds nest on the very top. This spans about 40 to 50 feet and is about 40 feet up in the air. Once you cross this you climb up onto a wooden platform. From the top on this other side we climbed down about 15 feet on a rope ladder then climbed down the rest on the wooden ladders. This was a penalty obstacle, if you did not make it over you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

34. Dong Dangler Video (http://youtu.be/mbTwn56mGKo)

Another creative name that I have no idea how they came up with this. This is the first of the true water obstacle section that just absolutely makes sure you are soaked and frozen from the cold water. This obstacle has metal cables with a plastic sheath over it. They span a distance of about 70 feet about 10 feet above the freezing water of the lake. To cross this one we had two methods to cross. The first was to swing your body up on top of the cable and straddle the cable with one foot resting on the top and laying the rest of your body on it, then pull for body forward and shimmy along the cable to the other end. The second method was to cross hanging upside down by crossing your feet on top of the cable and hanging on with either your hands and pulling yourself upside down across to the other side. This was a penalty obstacle, if you fell into the cold water you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

35. Underwater Tunnels

If you managed to not go under water at all yet, here was a guaranteed dunk. After we crossed on the Dong Dangler, we had to get in the cold water of the lake and start swimming. We had to swim approximately 110 feet or so to the other shore. On the way there were a series of three rows of large floating plastic barrels. Once we got to a barrel we had to swim underneath and pop out the other side. We did this for the three in the middle of the swim to the shore. The ice cold water stung the neck and the face as we went under water.

36. Jersey Shore

To get out of the swim from the underwater tunnels, we had to climb out of the water on to dry ground via a large wooden platform that was covered with the slick white plastic sheets used for Everest. The platform started in the water and was about 30 feet long on an incline up out and on to the shore. As this surface was slick, it was hard to climb up. Fortunately they were kind enough to have a few ropes laying across the surface we could grab on to and help pull ourselves up out of the water and walk up this slick platform.

37. Rope a Dope Video (http://youtu.be/dXu9_B3psYw)

After swimming across the lake again about 50 yards in freezing cold water, at the other end there was a large wooden structure with the canvas webbing ladders that went from the water 15 feet up to a wooden platform. While in the water below we had to start climbing up this free dangling ladder. With nothing there to support it or stabilize ourselves, we spun circles in these trying to climb and twisting our feet and hands in the tiny flexible holes. It was tough getting our feet and hands out of these holes since they were being spun and wound up so tight. Once to the top of the ladder, we had to climb up over the ledge and on to the wooden platform. The climb on the way up was very difficult with all of the spinning and twisting and cold hands and muscles. Once on the platform, we climbed down the wood ladder on to dry ground. This was a penalty obstacle, if you fell into the cold water you would have to stand off to the side for 5 minutes shivering and wait before going on.

38. Walk the Plank

This one is also true to its name. We climbed 15 feet up a steep wooden structure that did not have much to put your feet on to climb. There was a wooden rail on the side along the way up that we used to pull up and stabilize ourselves. Once at the top, we had to jump off the edge of the wooden plank into the freezing cold lake again 20 feet below. This was not too bad. On the top it was very windy, so the quicker you jumped, the quicker you were out of the wind. I never touched bottom on this one, but jumping 20 feet, we were under the cold water for a good 2-3 seconds. Once in the water we swam across the lake again approximately 50 yards or so. Without my awesome wetsuit from NRS and my thin layer of merino wool underneath from Mountain Hardwear I definitely would not have lasted past 2 laps from the frigid waters. Awesome headlamp from Princeton Tec too that was water proof and withstood the 20 foot plunges.

39. Hold your Wood

Literally we had to hold wood on this one. WTM cut up sections of a tree in pieces that were maybe a foot long and was the whole cross section of a tree. Each piece was big and weighed maybe 20 to 30 pounds. We had to grab a piece of this wood and carry it into the lake and go around three buoys in the water and come back to shore. The first buoy was about 20 feet from shore. After we reached that one, we made a right turn, now going parallel to the shore and had to walk/swim (we were in the cold water up to our heads) with the wood about 30 feet to the next buoy, then after that second one continue 30 feet to the third buoy. After the third buoy we made another right hand turn and headed 20 feet back to shore where we dropped our wood.

40. Riot Cannon

This was supposed to be a water cannon that was shot at us, but given the weather conditions and the fact that so many people were dropping from all of the other obstacles and conditions, this obstacle was eliminated on race day.

2 comments:

  1. Great summary there.
    Did you wear the wetsuit for the entire race?

    Cheers,

    |James

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lots of Good information in your post,
    I favorited your blog post
    so I can visit again in the future, Thanks.

    ReplyDelete