Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

The Mudder Mentality

Tough Mudder Austin 2011

Tough Mudder Austin 2011 (Photo credit: glennharper)

I always had a problem with fun. Anything that was meant to be fun, I didn’t think sounded fun. Especially things involving dance, music, parties and looking nice. Bleh. Just give me a semantic quirk to muse over and I’m happy.

The weird thing was that after a few months of fitness training, things that didn’t sound fun in the least started to sound really fun. Not randomly, though. It was scientific research.

The most fun I had at training was when the weather was worst. The more mud there was, the more fun there was. The more water I had to run through, the better I felt. The more ice there was, the more I enjoyed being warmed up by doing press ups.

So, when we heard of Tough Mudder, it sounded just great. Ten to twelve miles, about twenty obstacles, some of which involve fire, water, ice and electricity. So, we applied. It sounds like a laugh.

But apparently it sounds like a nightmare that people wouldn’t want to do. So, clearly, something has happened to our brains. We have developed a Mudder mentality.

There are several theories floating about the internet accounting for the appeal of the various obstacle events and mud events that are growing exponentially in popularity worldwide. I have accounted for my application to the event above – but perhaps there were other factors in play.

Firstly, running is arguably dull. And long. And you don’t get anywhere except the end. I suppose it depends where you go and whether or not you have a hope of improving your personal best at the distance you are working on. I think there will be people who have maxed out at half marathon and want a fresh challenge – so, if you pep it up with a score of obstacles, that would be … fun! I haven’t run enough to use this as a reason to sign up though.

Another suspicion is that people don’t really want to do the event as such, but they want the evidence that they have done the event so that they can appear in a certain way on facebook and other social media sites. Would I be willing to pay what I’ve paid, just to get a picture of me with my pint of cider, my orange headband – ideally with a glorious sunset behind me, with my toned arms glistening with mud – for use as a profile pic? Alarmingly, I may be tempted! What would be to stop me borrowing these props and getting the profile pic anyway? Well, that wasn’t really the point. The point is to do the event.

Some people think that mud and endurance events are about expressing your gender identity. All things butch. All things macho. Except, women are keen to give it a go as well. All things feminist? All things equal? I wonder if I am subconsciously (well, now I am typing about it, consciously) thinking about womanhood and motherhood and roles and role models for my children. Surely it is a “good thing” to be fit, and a “good thing” to have fun and play like a child for once.

Then there is the question of the brain chemistry that goes on when you jump into a skip full of ice, or contemplate jumping off a platform into a muddy lake. It is a fact that every time I have been to training (while well) I have felt better at the end than I have at the start. Giddy, almost.

Most of my life has been concerned with developing my mind and spirit. My body was just carting my mind and spirit about kind of vacantly. It then careered into childbirth and woke up wondering how it got to be so out of shape! And hey – it turns out that a person is  – well, I don’t know what… but for argument’s sake – mind body and spirit in an integrated way – a whole way – dare I say it- a holistic way. I feel better for feeling fitter. I just do.

The last reason for Mudder motivation is the anticipation of a lovely day out. It may not be sunny and dry – but SURELY it won’t be all that cold?!? Hopefully my team mates won’t leave me eating their dust after a mile and a half. Luckily camaraderie is rated higher than speed! Hopefully it will be a laugh. Hopefully we can avoid tetanus, e-coli and injury. Hopefully we will make it to the end. (I am kind of optimistic. Although 22% entrants do not finish, I am hoping these are the people who didn’t train and thought that twelve miles wasn’t all that far…)

I guess we’ll see.

In fact – that’s why I want to do it. Just to see.

(Here’s someone’s account of the event.)


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12 thoughts on “The Mudder Mentality

  1. Cathy on said:

    Didn’t really like his account of the event, in fact he seems to be a bit smug/dismissive. But I’m still really looking forward to it-think I’m going to find it tougher than he did. I’m hoping that the camaraderie (chk sp.!) will be good, if not then it’s you, me and Andrea depending on the goodwill of a load of muscle-bound strangers!

  2. It doesn’t seem so long ago that you posted about how risk averse you were and that you couldn’t’ understand why anyone would do anything perilous fir fun or adventure like rock climbing or journeying into space. Yet here you are signed up for a gruelling obstacle course involving electric shocks, burning hay balls, claustrophobic tunnel crawls and ice plunges! Mid-life crisis or Mid-life awakening?

    • I don’t think it’s that perilous really. And I won’t do the 15ft jump into the lake if I think I might drown. I’ll skip that one. The you tubes of it that actual punters film show that it is effectively a an adventure playground, but adult sized.
      I am interested to see what I back-pedal out of when it comes to the moment.
      I think they are probably health and safetyed out their nut!

  3. Laurie Nichols on said:

    There is something to that brain chemical that gets released after strenuous workouts, it will keep you coming back for more and after a while you do feel the health effects way long after you are done with training. I think that you are attracted to the challenge because you have seen first hand how satisified you feel afterwards even on those cold and rainy days. I, as you know, am your personal cheerleader so I look forward to reading all about you Tough Mudder just try not to get electricuted. 🙂

  4. Oh, you have SO reminded me of an old song. Forgive me if you already know it. It includes spellings to indicate a trite Boston accent, because it will not rhyme without it. Here goes:

    Camp Granada

    Hello Mudda, hello Fadda,
    Here I am at Camp Granada.
    Camp is very entertaining,
    And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.

    I went hiking with Joe Spivy;
    He developed poison ivy.
    You remember Leonard Skinner;
    He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner.

    All the counselors hate the waiters,
    And the lake has alligators,
    And the head coach wants no sissies,
    So he reads to us from something called “Ulysses”.

    Now I don’t want this to scare ya,
    But my bunk mate has malaria.
    You remember Jeffrey Hardy,
    They’re about to organize a searching party.

    Take me home, oh Mudda, Fadda,
    Take me home, I hate Granada!
    Don’t leave me out in the forest where
    I might get eaten by a bear.


    (*Here my source has it wrong, so I will rewrite this part directly after it.)
    Take me home, I promise I will not make noise,
    Or mess the house with other boys.
    Oh, please don’t make me stay,
    I’ve been here one whole day.

    * Take me home, oh Mudda, Fadda,
    Take me home, I promise not ta
    Make a noise or clutter up the house
    With all my toys or other boys.

    Take me home, oh Mudda, Fadda,
    Take me home, I hate Granada!
    Please don’t make me stay here one whole day….

    Dearest Fadda, darling Mudda,
    How’s my precious little brudda?
    Let me come home if you miss me,
    I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me.


    Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
    Guys are swimming, gals are sailing.
    Playing baseball, gee dat’s betta,
    Mudda, Fadda, kindly disregard dis letter!

    Lyrics from eLyrics.net

    Oh, well, between the two of us, we probably got it close to right. Anyway, it’s a cute and funny thing we used to sing to each other when we were kiddos. 🙂

    Have fun muddin’!

    • Thanks for that Katharine 🙂
      Never heard it before. My son is just back from a six day summer camp. Luckily he had a great time 🙂
      (despite the thunder!)

  5. Cathy Baker on said:

    Can’t believe you haven’t heard this song Sandra! When you see me tomorrow night I’ll sing the tune and then you’ll know it! Also, I have a plan for the electric shocks obstacle at the end-we sprint in a group of 3 or 4 as fast as we can, totally gung-ho!!!

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