01 July 2022

Event review: Tough Mudder

November 28, 2012
Event review: Tough Mudder

There is a lot of hype surrounding the Tough Mudder events, described as ‘probably the toughest event on the planet.’ So Sportsister’s Melanie Ryding braved the muddy, cold obstacle challenge to see if the claim really is true.

Event review: Tough Mudder

Obstacle course events have been booming in popularity over the past couple of years (see our report from last year’s Spartan Race here) but Tough Mudder aims to be the toughest of them all.

The carefully designed obstacle course gets harder and harder as you progress through the distance, and it lasts for 12, yes 12 miles, much longer than other similar events. And as the majority of the course is ankle deep in mud 12 miles is a long way! Thanks to the time of year temperatures were hovering around freezing and so many of the water obstacles had ice on top.

The event takes place the picturesque grounds of Cholmondley Castle, although unless you take a look beforehand, you probably will not appreciate its beauty!

Event review: Tough Mudder


Parking was straightforward (although did cost £10) and I was greeted on arrival by Natalie from www.breo.com, a sports accessories company whose team my husband and I were running for, and who also sponsor the second obstacle, an ice bath called arctic enema.

A short walk through to the event site from the car teased you as you passed some of the course, the lake where you would later be required to dunk under icy cold water three times, and on towards a very well organised pre event area that included race registration, coffee places, food stalls, nutrition stands, a stage, shop and huge bag drop. If you wanted to get into the spirit of things, you could even visit the ‘mullet and Mohawk’ stand and get yourself a new hair cut. I was also pleased to find plenty of portaloos which meant only short queues.

Event review: Tough MudderThe course

Before even reaching the start line you are greeted with a high wall which required you to work with your fellow Tough Mudders in order to scale. This was a hint of what was to come. An event MC encouraged you to sing, dance, hug each other, and finally kneel and say the Tough Mudder pledge before you were released in a huge cloud of firework smoke!

Within a few steps you were in ankle deep mud and several people were already losing their shoes before they even completed the first mile. Top tip – wear cross country shoes, double tie your laces as tight as you can possibly tie them, and then you MIGHT not lose them!

The first of the 22 obstacles was ‘kiss of mud’ – which involved crawling along in mud under barbed wire, uphill! Right after that was the www.breo.com sponsored obstacle, an ice bath that you had to leap into and climb out of. The course carried on with a bit of a pattern – mud, ice, straw, mud, more mud, climbing, ice cold water, yet more mud, climbing, more ice cold water… you get the picture!

Event review: Tough Mudder

Part of the pledge you had to recite at the start of the race was to promise to help your fellow Tough Mudders. This was vital, and it was this group camaraderie that made this event so funny and memorable. I was sat on top of one of the Berlin Walls, I was exhausted and it had taken three men to help get me onto the top. I sat straddling the top wondering how on earth I might get down the other side. From the top I shouted ‘I need some help!’ With that, five women appeared at the bottom and between them helped lower me down. That’s team work for you.

Here are some of my most memorable moments from this unique event

–          Seeing so many people at all the different obstacles helping each other, we started to recognise fellow Tough Mudders as we helped each other round.

–          The underwater tunnels: the pain of that icy cold water tested your quitting bone to the max

–          The guy wading through the mud maze wearing a bowler hat

–          The team of people standing in knee deep in mud rummaging around looking for their friend’s lost shoe

–          Electroshock therapy, the last obstacle which gave such a shock it knocked people flat on the floor in pain!

–          When I got stuck trying to climb up the drainage pipe the guy behind me began to sing me motivational songs

Event review: Tough Mudder
After the race

As you crossed the line you were given a finisher’s headband (stop for the finish photo!), an energy drink (drink it immediately), a banana (eat that immediately too, you will probably need help with this, you will be too cold to do it yourself), a space blanket, a beer and a finisher’s t shirt.

Make sure you have left a change of footwear, lots of plastic bin bags, plenty of warm clothes, hat and gloves, some baby wipes and some towels in your bag. There was a change tent and some freezing cold open air showers.

Expect to hurt all over, for days and days, but expect to feel very proud of yourself too.

Would I do it again?

It was much harder than I thought but certainly unique and actually more fun that I imagined. It was nice to do an event that was not a race too. I would do it again, but only as part of a team, I would not recommend entering this as an individual, it’s much more fun with a group of friends.

Event review: Tough Mudder

Good points

–          Massive sense of achievement completing it. I felt quite emotional I was so proud of myself.

–          Fabulous camaraderie by all competitors. Everyone helped everyone else around, physically and emotionally.

–          Excellent event organisation. Very well marshalled, fully manned by medics, plenty of facilities all around the course, excellent pre and post race entertainment.

Bad points

–          Lack of heated facility at the finish line. There were heated tents around the course, but none at the end where you needed it most.

–          No hot showers at the finish.

–          Some energy drinks around the course at the feed stations rather than just water might have been handy

–          I would just warn you this race is not for the faint hearted, be prepared to test yourself to the max, it is VERY tough and you will ache for days. If you cannot do that, this is perhaps not the event for you.

More info: www.toughmudder.co.uk

Next year’s dates:

Boughton House, Kettering, Northamptonshire – May 4 & 5, 2013

South Coast UK, venue TBC – June 8 & 9, 2013

Scotland, venue TBC – August 24 & 25, 2013

Yorkshire, venue TBC – September 7 & 8, 2013

South West, venue TBC – September 21 & 22, 2013

North West, venue TBC – October 5 & 6, 2013

Melanie Ryding, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine 


Breo are pleased to offer their expertise as the official timing partner for Tough Mudder 2012. Their message; ‘Don’t live a bland life – have fun and escape the everyday’ reflects the very nature of Tough Mudder.

Breo’s rugged product is built to withstand anything you can throw at it, making it the perfect partner for Tough Mudder and its gruelling events. Breo’s ZONE watch is the perfect example – fusing all the functional elements of a top sports watch and a highly stylish look perfectly incorporating both style and substance.


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