Sep 26, 2011

Tough Mudder: Part 2 – Before the Race

Sorry for the delay in this post - it took longer than expected to get the photos loaded and we were busy getting Cameron ready for Wyoming at the end of last week after recovering from Tough Mudder earlier in the week. Next few posts should come back to back.

Cameron & I after being branded with our Race Numbers. The hot pink sleeves were for warmth. It was about 45 degrees that morning.

Our Team

We headed up to Tahoe Friday evening after passing London along to spend the weekend with her Grammi and Poppy. Our team captain, Tui, was kind enough to secure a cabin for all of us interested in coming up to acclimate to the elevation. We arrived just in time for a nice pasta-filled dinner. With all the energy we would be expending Sunday, we needed to carb-load to some degree. The cabin was also fitted with a hot tub on a balcony overlooking the drive way. Many of us spent some time in the hot tub catching up or getting to know each other, as besides Cameron, Jeff and Tui, I didn't know a sole. Luckily, all my teammmates were friends of Tui's via skydiving, which tends to mean they were a friendly bunch in general.

Saturday morning, Cameron and I headed over to Reno to meet with his hunting buddy Gilles and pick up some supplies for Cameron’s Antelope hunting trip to Wyoming which is taking place this week. On our way back we stopped in to visit with Cameron’s grandparents for a couple of hours. That pretty much killed the day for us. By the time we got back to the cabin, it was 5 PM. Tui and Jeff were out shopping for ski boots, while Kyle and Angie were off getting supplies for the race - a fanny pack to carry fuel and gloves to help with some of the events. Kell and Lisa were the only ones at the cabin. Kyle and Angie would get back next and we all decided to start dinner, as we were aiming to head to early. It was another fun night, chatting and getting to know people as the last of the overnighters arrived (John & Brooke) but alas, it didn't last long given we all needed to get up at 5:30 AM. I was the first to head to bed at about 9:30 and I think everyone was in bed by 10. 5:30 AM still came too quickly.

Wrangling 10 people that early in the morning, with only two bathrooms, made for quite a feat, but we did get out the door just after 6:30 AM, which was 10 minutes past our planned departure time. While we were literally 10 minutes from Squaw Valley and our start time wasn't until 9 AM, ToughMudder recommends arriving two hours before your start time to compensate for traffic, transportation shuttles and lines at registration. So we technically needed to be there by 7 AM and not knowing how traffic would be to get in and up to Squaw Valley, we wanted to leave early just in case.

We quickly found out there wasn't a huge need. Parking and traffic weren’t an issue at all. Cameron and I breezed through registration, but some of our teammates did have to deal with some pretty long lines. The people-watching was amazing. ToughMudder encourages outrageousness – there’s a costume contest and a Mullet & Mohawk contest. There's even a tent where people can get Mohawks shaved right then and there. We saw people dressed up in everything from Harry Potter to a banana to a bride and groom on up to guys wearing nothing more than a speedo or loin cloth. I saw a lot of bare bottoms along the course thanks to those loin cloths, some of which looked raw thanks to the side effects of many of the obstacles.

Cameron spray painted his hair and bear white to be silly.

The next two hours seemed to drag on. There was a lot of waiting around before we finally headed toward the start line. Some of the waiting involved the fact that we didn't want to give up our bags until the last possible second. More of the waiting involved the registration process taking different amounts of time for each of our teammates and people running to bathrooms or cars. And yet still, on our way to the start line, many of us made beelines for the porta-potties one last time. This would be our last "bathroom" until we ended the course. Not that that didn't stop any one from making their own bathroom when it was needed.

We'd been joined by the last three of our teammates at registration - Kelley, Brett & Trina. The 13 of us were together, stretching and jumping around before the start gun. Before the gun, the announcer provided us with some words of encouragement and reminders for safety. Mainly, we needed to know that we could opt out of any obstacle – all we had to do to qualify as a finisher was to cross the finish line. If, at any point in time, we wanted to stop and get off the course without finishing, we just needed to throw up our arms in an X above our head.

After a quick reminder that Tough Mudder events are not races but tests of endurance, strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie, the National Anthem was played and then we were off. I think there was a gun but I really don’t remember.

Stay tuned for my next post about my experience with the first half of the course.

A Silly Group Shot Before the Event

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