Tough Mudder Atlanta 2012 – Tips for future Mudders

Chances are, you are here for one of two reasons. 1) You ran the Tough Mudder at Aonia Motocross Park or 2) you are researching a future Mudder event. The purpose of this blog post is to give footage to both groups while offering what tips and suggestions I can to group 2.

We ran the 9:40 heat of the Saturday race. It was in the 40’s with a 20+ mph wind. Read that as – it was cold. It was even colder for the Sunday runners!

Gear:

Top: I wore an Under Armour mock-turtleneck COLDGEAR with our cotton team t-shirts on top. I also wore a beanie to block some of the wind.

Gloves: Mechanix Impact Pro gloves performed amazingly. They did cause me to slip at the end of the Funky Monkey, but they kept the wind out for the most part.

Bottoms: I wore Starter Gear dri-fit leggings that are basically a cheap version of UA COLDGEAR leggings. They were $15 at Walmart and worked perfectly! I wore mesh shorts on top of the leggings for modesty and pockets if needed.

Socks & Shoes: I wore my New Balance 890’s that I’ve had for a year. I see no point in buying a pair of shoes for the event. I wish these had a little more traction left at the front, but running on asphalt has smoothed them pretty well. Your shoes will clean up fairly well, I am wearing mine today after a quick hose down and a trip through the washing machine. We have Georgia red clay and Kaolin here, so I doubt you have a worse-staining mud. I wore Smart Wool hiking socks tucked into the leggings to keep my ankles warm.

Considering I was dripping wet for 5 hours, my gear did remarkably well. The COLDGEAR is thicker, so I was wary about it holding more water and keeping me colder, but it worked more like a wetsuit and what body heat I had would warm the gear just enough. Teammates who wore HEATGEAR (made for summer sports) were shaking 10x more, because HEATGEAR is designed to wick heat away from you. It was a toss-up though, and none of us knew what to expect until we were on the course.

GoPro: I wore a GoPro Hero2 with the head mount harness. It worked flawlessly, but I should have managed my battery better. Even with the Battery BacPac, i ran out of juice on the last 2 obstacles. But our course time was 4 hrs and 40 mins (including all of the waiting). I switched it on and off several times to conserve, but not enough. The cold weather and water could have also shortened the battery life. I would highly recommend the Battery BacPac and a 32GB card. I had a 16gb and I think it would have maxed out at a little over 2 hrs of recording. If you have a friend as a spectator, give them an extra card and battery and you could always swap along the course. I highly recommend you put a coat of Rain-x on the GoPro lens to help it keep clean. It will shed water without problem and helps to repel some of the mud, but not all of it.  I also recommend the head-mount over the chest-mount.  With all of the crawling and water, the chest mount, although probably more stable and comfortable, will only see dirt or be underwater for half of the obstacles.

Obstacles

Devil’s Gaps – Basically trenches dug with a backhoe and filled with water. They are probably 4-5 feet apart. Just set a pace, and go. It was easy to make it across although I did see a few fall short. If you do fall in, it is likely to hurt, and you will most likely hit your ribs/stomach on the opposite edge. You could also pop an ankle pretty bad if you jump short.

Kiss of Mud – Easy, just crawl under the barb wire.

Berlin Walls #1 (8ft) –
The 8 ft walls are not bad. There is a 2″ ledge about 2 ft off the ground that you can step on and pull yourself over. If you don’t have much upper body strength, your team or other Mudders will give you a lift.

Arctic Enema – This is terrible, yet sadistically enjoyable. You have to smile when you go back and watch video or photos of this one. Do not hesitate at the top of the dumpster, and do not ease into the ice. Just jump, canonball, whatever to get yourself in, duck under the plank and get out as fast as you can. When you come up for air, your body is not going to want to breathe. Just calm down and wait a second and it will come. As soon as you get out, pain radiates from your core from head to toe. Shortly after than, your brain cramps in a tremendous brain freeze. There’s no other way to say much else about this one, it just hurts.

Turd’s Nest – I’ve heard mixed on how to approach this, about half of the people just crawl across, the other half (including me) roll down the first half and crawl up the second half.

Fire Walker – Not really an obstacle other than the smoke will burn your eyes. We took it slow and enjoyed the warmth.

King of the Mountain – Teamwork helps here, just take turns pulling each other up and you’ll do fine. When going down, I faced away from the mountain in the event that I slipped, I would know more of what was below me to react better.

Mud Mile – Tippy toes, Tippy toes, that’s the trick to this one. If you flat-foot your way through this one, the mud will have a better chance of sucking your shoe off. Several people taped their shoes, but I think technique in the end is what determined whether you kept or lost your shoes.

Funky Monkey – You will see a million comments on techniques for this one. I made it all the way except for about 2 bars. My gloves slipped a little up my hands and killed my chance at holding a grip. I don’t regret wearing the gloves though, I think I just took too long at the beginning. Also I recommend going one bar at a time, not one bar with your left hand one with your right etc. Get a good grip on your current bar and then swing to the next. Some guys grab the 2x4s but I’ve heard of a lot of people getting cut fairly seriously with that method.

Trench Warfare – Not bad unless you are claustrophobic as it is pitch black in the middle. There was also a hole around the bend that you couldn’t see. I was glad that I was warned about the hole before I got there. It was also warm in the trench, so we took it slow.

Log Jog Bog – Just walk over the logs and try not to slip.

Spider’s Web – Chances are, someone ahead of you will be anchoring the bottom back-side of the cargo net. crawl over and do the same to let those Mudders continue the course.

Cliff Hanger –
This is just a really slick slope. I finally got on hands and knees at the top to make it up. Any good traction with your shoes is helpful. Some suggest walking up sideways while a team behind us created some sort of train to move everyone up the slope.

Devil’s Beard – easy, just walk hunched-over backwards and you’ll be fine.

Boa Constrictor – Again, not bad, and the creek mud wasn’t as cold as the man-made obstacles.

Jumpin Bale – I honestly don’t remember this one, I need to go back to my footage to see if I missed it or what.

Berlin Walls #2 (12ft) – These are tough and require team work. Unless you are well over 6′ tall, I don’t see you muscling over this on your own. Get a boost and keep on moving.

Hold Your Wood & Tired Yet – A little tiring, grab a log and throw it over your shoulder. When that arm aches, swap positions. Run through the tires and return the wood to the pile.

Electric Eel – I was fortunate enough to not get shocked somehow. I did not go back through to test my luck. Just crawl as fast as you can and avoid getting hit in the face.

Log Jammin – By this point, upper body grip was failing, we just climbed and ducked over and under the logs. It’s not a tough obstacle, but we were feeling the fatigue.

Hanging Tough –
Think American Gladiators over ice water. The key is to get a good swing and keep that momentum. Looking back I wish I hadn’t grabbed 2 rings to start. I think you would do better to grab one and jump out as far as you can to the next one and keep going as fast as you can. You should probably practice hanging from one arm for this one.

Walk the Plank – This one was also miserable due to the cold. I was the only one on our team to do it. It’s not hard, just climp up, jump in, and swim to shore. The problem was that exhaustion and hypothermia are good at making you forget how to swim, breathe, and everything else. When you hit the water, it is very similar to Arctic Enema, you lose your breath, but this time you can’t stand up, so you have to move. They have plenty of rescue divers on standby to grab you if needed.

Dong Dangler – I think you are supposed to shimmy across this rope but i just grabbed it and walked across the pond. I didn’t have the grip after Walk the Plank to do much of anything.

Everest – I tried twice and grabbed someone’s hand, but again, my grip was gone. Try to get as much mud off of your shoes as possible. Check the video, the third guy, in a pink top, was cleaning his shoes and was then able to run to the top unassisted.

Twinkle Toes – I was nervous on this one. It’s a 2×12 beam you have to balance across or fall into more icy water. I was shaking uncontrollably by this point and the wind was getting harder. They actually shut it down later due to high winds. It looks simple, but in the middle, the board will wobble significantly. GO slow, one foot in front of the other. If you start to stumble, crouch a little, and stabilize yourself, then keep going. I just kept thinking how I couldn’t take another round in the water. You will know when you get back to the more stable part on the opposite end and you can usually speed up to finish.

Electroshock Therapy – Oh the fun of the signature obstacle! Duck and run and try not to black out. I got hit on my elbow once but I was lucky to avoid any face shots. You will see the people in the video that get dropped by the current. What hit me wasn’t terrible, it was a lot like if you’ve ever accidentally been shocked by household current. It grabs you more than anything. I always hated getting shocked by DC batteries on cars than household current.

The 2012 Tough Mudder was an amazing experience and I will definitely return for another bout with Big Mudder in the future. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments and I will tell you what I can. A support team is a must in my opinion. It was great to have my wife along with other team mates’ family cheering us along our way.

Thanks and Happy Mudding!
-James

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6 thoughts on “Tough Mudder Atlanta 2012 – Tips for future Mudders

  1. Good recap! My husband and I ran on Saturday, and had a great time (and we can almost feel our fingers and toes again!). We got to the end and realized we hadn’t done Jumpin’ Bale either – we wondered if we had missed it somehow, or what. Congratulations on making it through!

  2. I’m running the Michigan Tough Mudder in 2 days… and this blog completely helped “calm” me down for the event! Let’s see if I can remain calm as the time ticks by!

  3. What setting did you have your go pro on? If I can’t get the bacpac would it last an entire event if I skipped a few of the smaller obstacles?

  4. Thanks for posting this! I was there the same day but in an earlier heat. Just bought a GoPro and getting ready for Tough Mudder Georgia 2013 – this was very helpful

  5. Great article, helpful! I am going to LA on my own 2014, coming from North Dakota, is it easy to join a team,have had no luck on Mudder site!

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