Tough Mudder Toronto 2013: A Short Story

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Tough Mudder Toronto 2013It was that time of year again.

You could feel the excitement building with each day that passed. You could feel the hairs on your skin rising with sheer anticipation and nervousness.

If you listened hard enough you could almost hear the chants echoing from the distance.

Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah!

Tough Mudder Toronto 2013 was calling.

We thought last year’s experience was enough to prepare us for what was to come. We thought we had it all figured out. We changed our training tactics. We put in our work. We did it all.

But there was one element none of us could foresee.

One element none of us could control.

And it changed everything.

Here’s the (short) story…

Tough Mudder Toronto 2013

The alarm shook me awake at 5:15am.

Even with the curtains drawn back, the darkness swallowed the room.

I prepared myself a quick breakfast. Four organic eggs. Dash of coconut oil. A chunk red pepper. And a couple of apples for the road.

I was good to go.

As I stepped outside, the darkness faded. But what remained in its absence only confirmed my worries. The clouds overwhelmed the sky and came together to create a thick, cool blanket over the city.

The weatherman was right: there was to be no sunshine or warmth on this day.

Meeting up with my teammates woke me up better than any espresso shot ever could.

These were the guys that I was going to run with. The guys that were going to stand by me at every obstacle. The guys that were going to go stride for stride with me up black diamonds and through fields of live wire. The guys that were going to push me when I needed to be pushed. And I would do the same for them.

These were my teammates.

Tough Mudder Toronto 2013 teammates

The early morning greet was nice and quick. A long drive up to Barrie, ON awaited us.

The high was 8 degrees when we left, but as we kept driving further up North the temperature continued to drop slowly. Every change in reading made us grimace a little bit.

It set at a cool 3 degrees Celsius when we arrived.

Not what we expected.

We layered up, dropped our bags off, and tightened up our laces before joining a massive herd of runners all squeezed together in a small area just by the starting line.

I took a quick look around.

I was surrounded by warriors.

Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, athletes, soldiers, cancer survivors, and weekend warriors all stood side by side with passion and excitement oozing out of them.

These were some bad-ass folks!

A man with a mic pounced on the stage and got our engines revving.

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With our adrenaline rushing, we no longer felt the cold. We were like pack of wild dogs, caged up and ready to pounce as soon as those gates opened.

And just like that we exploded off the blocks.

This is what we’ve been training for.

This year’s Tough Mudder event was once again held at Mount St. Louis. We’re talking about a 16km run with nearly 20 obstacles of varying degrees of difficulty sprinkled throughout the course. Designed by British Special Forces, this course is meant to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie

It claims to be the toughest event on the planet.

And this year, partly thanks to mother nature, they really brought it.

The beginning of the course was all hills.

A steep trek up a double black diamond got the legs fired up. I guess all that hill training we did this year really paid off.

After jumping over some walls with ease we made our way down the mountain before reaching the obstacle we all dreaded.

The Arctic Enema.

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This obstacle has mental grit written all over it.

First you must bravely jump into Big Mudder’s floating iceberg abyss. Once submerged, find the mental and physical strength to swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before you become hypothermic. [ref]

We stripped down to just our shorts and took the plunge.

Before hypothermia had time to set in, we grabbed our clothes and took off.

That was surprisingly refreshing.

With each step we took, we could see our breath condensing and creating soft vapors as it left our mouth and nostrils. We could feel the freezing wind beating against our soaking bodies.

But we just kept going.

As we kept running we faced all sorts of crazy obstacles.

We jumped over fire pits, climbed ropes, swam across lakes, crawled through tunnels, ran through mud and snow, climbed over high walls, jumped through small openings, sprinted through fields of live wire, swung across monkey bars, carried logs, and crawled under barbed wire fences.

And we kept climbing those hills.

One. Step. At. A. Time.

I tried to forget the cold. Even though I was dripping wet with no sensation left in my fingertips, I kept blocking it out of my mind.

Even though people around me were shivering so violently that I could hear their teeth clinking and clanking from a mile away, I tried not to let it affect me.

“It’s all in your head” I kept telling myself.

It’s all mental.

And it worked.

There’s no doubt that the mind is a very powerful being. When you know how to master it you can do some incredible things in life.

And just as soon as we started, we were done.

2 hours, 38 minutes.

Although we didn’t meet our goal of finishing the course in under two hours, we were happy with what we accomplished considering the unexpected elements we faced.

As we crossed the finish line, grabbed our headbands and t-shirts, we watched as hundreds of runners reached for free thermal blankets before they reached for free beer.

You know it’s cold when, right?

Why do it?

As I write this post a day after the race, I’m pretty sore and banged up.

My muscles are aching, my joints are sore, and I got some pretty bad-ass scrapes and bruises.

So the question then becomes: why do it?

Why pay all that money, train your ass off, and put your body through such bewildering conditions only to have some cuts, bruises, and a headband to show for it?

Well, for a number of reasons.

But mainly because I can.

I’ve put the work into building a body that allows me to do something so extreme.

I train hard and I train smart not just to be ready for an event like this, but to be ready for anything. I want to be able to run this same race in a week again if I wanted to. And I feel that I can.

That’s what drives me to keep going on this journey.

To be able to say “I can”.

And that’s exactly the message I’m always trying to spread through this blog: to build a better body so we can have the ability to do anything we want in life.

But it was also about the challenge.

It was about putting yourself in a position where the only way out is through sheer courage and perseverance.  It was about stepping way outside of your comfort zones and pushing your limits just to prove to yourself that you have unlimited room for growth.

It was about testing your mental grit and seeing what you’re really made of.

And feeling that sense of euphoria and accomplishment when you do something so incredible.

That’s why I did it.

And that’s why I’ll keep doing it for as long as I possibly can.

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Comments

  1. Awesome and congrats! How did you prepare for it? I alternate jump rope weeks (for plantular strength) and running weeks to get my mind used to the mental blocks. Doing a warrior dash in July and i want to get a 5k under 25 minutes before doing the dash. Tough Mudder would be a goal for next year

    • Thanks Lou! I did more running this year than last (I’m not big into running). I did hill sprints. I jumped rope and used kettlebells. I did a lot of Crossfit style workouts for time. And I mixed it up with strength training.

      You can definitely hit 5k in under 25min! Let me know how it goes!

  2. WOW!

  3. You are a Tough Mudder! You have to be not only physically fit, but mentally strong to compete in an event of this type. Way to go!

  4. Nicolas says:

    That’s awesome Srdjan! Congrats!

    I just ran a 5k a week ago. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, since I haven’t done any running in about a year. I was surprised at my time. I finished in 29:35. Not a great time, but good enough for me!

    Some friends and I are planning to do a run called Rogue Runner in TX in September. I’m looking forward to it. It’s similar to Tough Mudder, but without the electrical wires. There’s 20+ obstacles in a 10k course. Hopefully, I’ll be ready for it.

    • Thanks Nicolas! Congrats on your run. That’s not a bad time at all for someone who hasn’t run in a year!

      I checked out the Rogue Runner event. It looks very similar to the Tough Mudder run. It’s just a bit shorter and has more obstacles. I think you guys will have a blast! Hopefully they bring the event to Canada at some point.

  5. That’s the only reason you need: “Because I can”.

  6. Wow!!! Dude…that’s intense! Way to go!!

  7. mariano says:

    Hi Srdjan,

    it looks like a great experience! I’m really considering to attend one of the German event (I’m from Italy). Just one question: how many miles/kms of actual running did you performed during the race, compared to the time/length dedicated to the obstacles?

    many thanks

    • Mariano, you should definitely take part in the event if you have a chance. Which German event are you thinking of?

      Well it is a 16km course with roughly 20 obstacles. Each obstacle is different and requires a different amount of time to complete. Some take a minute while others might take 2-3 minutes. Nothing more than that though. Everything in between you’re either running or climbing (if it’s a hill).

  8. Nice work! This is a race that I definitely want to sign-up for. My ultimate goal is to complete an Iron Man someday…baby steps.

  9. Hello Srdjan – I saw your question about how to remove mobile responsiveness from Genesis Prose. Did you ever figure it out? I’m trying to the same for my website.

    Thanks,

    Jason

  10. How were the hills on the Toronto Mudder? We are doing Toronto this fall and was wondering how many/much/high? Did the Buffalo Mudder in July and there were a couple long down/up hills, but not too bad.

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