I don’t know what we were thinking. A 12 mile endurance event where you have to get yourself up/over/under/through 20+ obstacles before you’re allowed to finish. And when you get to that finish line, there are more than 10,000 volts of electricity hanging in separate wires ready to take you down!
Although I’ve listened to colleagues share tales of their experiences at events around the world, I myself knew absolutely nothing about what Tough Mudder would entail until literally the day before, when panic started to set in. I started asking some frantic questions to anyone who would listen: What is this “Arctic Enema” they speak of? Is there some sort of bowel prep I have to take the night before? What is a “Sewer Rat”? Do they have license to let large rodents roam the course? Will it smell? Help me – what is this lunacy?
Thankfully our team was guided by the great (and far more composed) Jonathan Halliwell, Emily Favret and Liv Haddow, who work on Edelman’s global Tough Mudder account team – so they’re used to all the fears and glory of becoming a “Mudder”. My team for the day took all the advice we could get; from duct-taping our trainers to body marking ourselves to ensure fully primal, hardcore event photos.
While the account team calmed the nerves of photogs and media taking part in the largest Tough Mudder event of the year, we arrived to check-in, suit-up and take on the course, fearful of what lay ahead of us. Apparently they went through the trouble of re-doing every obstacle on the menu for 2015, and we were among the first to take them on (insert terrified face selfies here).
What happened throughout the day was quite profound. Of course, the seven of us all know each other, work together, and see each other in some capacity every day. But what Tough Mudder does best is bring you together in a way that you really can’t describe unless you take part in one yourself.
Every single person on the course wants to help you – therein lies the brilliance. Complete strangers give you a boost over an impossibly high wall, or lend their bodies as a climbing frame to overcome “The Pyramid Scheme”, or just simply turn around and wait to check you’re ok and ready to press on when you get out of “Cry Baby”. And these were all complete strangers… so you have some idea of the camaraderie of the event. If strangers could act like this, the #Edelmudders team took it to another level – by the end, we had become brothers and sisters. On top of this, we knew we were also joining #Edelmudder teams before us from Canada, New York, Atlanta, Australia and Germany, who had proudly achieved their Mudder headbands before us. Game. On.
A particular highlight had to be when Jonathan (the tallest member of the group by about 3 feet) was thrown down at the top of “Everest 2.0” by a nearby woman who exclaimed he was “tall and lanky” and “just who she was looking for”. But it wasn’t just Jonathan who was roped in – our entire team leant over the top of the summit and reached down to assist this woman and her friends up and over to safety. With humour ensuing at each reach, pull and thankful embrace.
Or when Gary and I leapt out of the hideous ice torture that was the “Arctic Enema” and simply looked at each other in shock and horror and screamed. Or when Greg injured his leg but wasn’t left behind. Or when we all collapsed on the finish line after “Electroshock Therapy” and laughed hysterically when we couldn’t get up (likely a combination of the rain and exhaustion… or the electricity).
To top off our weekend in the mud, we had 24 hours to be showered, clean and presentable (not to mention mobile) ready for national television. Yes, the embarrassing photos and videos of our team were not enough; we were needed on-set at the BBC’s One Show for a debut segment on the various incentives for taking part in these wild events. If you scroll to the 8:09 mark, you can see me wave to my mum with a goofy grin, a finisher shirt and yes, my arm around my teammates.
There were endless other examples of the team either helping each other overcome our fears or helping complete strangers, but there is no point me writing them all down – you’ll just have to find out what it’s all about yourself! Join our London team for our next event in September 2015, or if you can’t wait until then, head to one of the other many events in the UK and Ireland this season. For photos and video of our team and Edelmudders around the world, check out #Edelmudders on Twitter and Instagram throughout the year.