On Saturday, I completed Tough Mudder at Raceway Park in New Jersey and it was insanely awesome.
I went with three friends of mine who live in Manhattan. Paul Bozgo, who is a CPA and who I met at Northeastern back in the day, Chuck Stavitski, a former Georgetown graduate, college football player and a law school graduate who works in investment banking, and Matt Cohen, who lives literally in an apartment on Wall Street and works as an account manager for a marketing company.
Why we wanted to do this event I do not know. It is literally a 12-mile-long run through extremely large and dangerous obstacles designed by British Special Forces. The course is made out of mud and includes electric wires, ice baths, 20-foot platform jumps into extremely cold water, barbed wire crawls through mud, a fire run, mud tunnels, large walls that need to be climbed over, hay hills, mud hills, a mud mile (where you literally wade through mud trying to avoid deliberately dug holes that make you trip), and other things designed to make you suffer quite a bit.
This event is no joke. Only about 75% of people that enter are able to complete it and get through all of the obstacles. I could not believe my eyes when my crew and I drove into Raceway Park. There were 15,000 people running in the event and about 50,000 people there to watch it. At the very beginning of the run, you chase a giant monster truck spraying orange smoke everywhere, with music from the movie Rocky blasting through loudspeakers. The music pumps you up for what is about to happen, because within five minutes after hitting the course, you have to jump into ice-cold water.
They call it the Chernobyl bath. The water has been dyed green and ice cubes are continuously poured in from a large truck. Your whole body is forced underwater. Instantly, you are shocked by the cold, and I had a reality check. “We got 12 miles of crap like this?” I said to Paul.
From there we headed toward a large wooden platform about 25 feet above a muddy river. You have to leap from the platform, hitting the water hard, and then swim 100 yards across. Keep in mind, the outdoor temperature for the day is cold, 40 degree, New York in November weather. From this point on, there is not a single moment when your body is not physically freezing, wet and covered in mud. My shoes ended up weighing an extra two pounds, and I wore a dress shirt for the race to keep things crazy, which was a big mistake because it was thick and weighed me down.
The four of us were determined, though, and we never stopped. During the barbed wire crawl, my knees started to give out from pain, so I started carrying myself on my thighs, dragging myself through the mud.
For exactly one mile, there is another obstacle that is composed of mud that runs about knee deep, but throughout the entire mile there are five-foot deep holes and divots, impossible to avoid because you can’t see them, which cause you to fall face first into the mud.
There were a few obstacles along the way that I didn’t think I was going to be able to get through. One was a very steep mud mountain you had to run up. The only way to get over it was to use your body’s momentum by sprinting. If you ran too slow or tried to crawl, you’d simply slide back down. A lot of people kept sliding back down. Another horrendous obstacle was the fire run, where you run through smoke for about 100 yards. It’s about a 40-second dash. But 10 seconds in, I was panicking because this isn’t fun smoke that you are running through, this is real smoke from burning hay stacks and you after a few breaths of it, you realize that if you want to live, you have to get out of it. If it was any longer of a dash, I would have passed out.
Were people getting injured at this event? Absolutely. People were dropping like flies, and I fell hard a few times from slipping, and during the monkey bars, I slipped and fell 10 feet into four feet of muddy water, only to have a guy slip above me and land feet first on my lower back.
The electric shocks at the very end were also the real deal. Yes, you get an electric shock when you finish. The one I got was enough to drop me to the ground, and it was also powerful enough to make a 230-pound former college football player (Chuck) nearly get knocked out because he took a shock to his forehead.
This event is doable, but really hard. I consider myself a guy who is up for most athletic events and adventures, I ran the Boston marathon, I rowed division I crew in college, and I played high school football and I found this to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, so take a little caution. If you played organized sports in high school or are the type of person who can jog six miles on any given day, you should most likely be able to complete it. You’ll be hurting, but you’ll complete it.
When Paul, Chuck Matt and I finished, we felt an incredible sense of accomplishment, drank our complimentary Dos Equis beer, and had awesome stories to tell and awesome pictures provided by the Bozgo family from New Hyde Park who where there to cheer us all on.