Got what it takes to give Tough Mudder a go?


Have you thought about signing up for an obstacle course event? If you enjoy a sense of adventure, variety in your training and potentially being pushed to your limits, they can be a great challenge. Tough Mudder is a mud run like no other; with no podiums, winners or clocks to race against, emphasis is placed on teamwork, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment you’ll get from crossing the finish line.

The full event is 18kms of course with 20+ obstacles or challenges, 500,000 litres of mud and 40 tons of ice (there’s also a Tough Mudder Half if you want to take on something shorter). Tough Mudder HQ designs and tests new obstacles every year and rolls them out to events around the world, which means that each course will be different each time; even for experienced ‘Legionnaire Mudders’.

Following a three year hiatus, the next Tough Mudder New Zealand event is coming up on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 November at Hampton Downs. There’s still plenty of time to register but you’ll probably want to sign up soon if you want to get some decent training in because it’s only three months away (as someone who is not much of a runner and once completed a half marathon with little training, I’d advise you that doing adequate prep for events is highly recommended…).

I caught up with Auckland-based Jacqui Marks who works in a lifestyle marketing agency by day and is an enthusiast for outdoor activities in her spare time. As a previous Tough Mudder competitor who is currently in training for this year’s event, she has a good idea of what’s required and has some words of wisdom if you’re thinking of giving it a go!

toughmudder– Jacqui (second from left) –

What made you sign up for Tough Mudder in the first place ?

My husband and I lived in Australia for three years and heard of some crazy Aussies paying to be electrocuted and immersed in icy cold water for fun!? At the time we thought ourselves either brave or stupid, but talked another couple into joining us for the Melbourne 2013 event.

What about the event appealed to you?

We were all pretty fit at the time (and competitive), but we read the event wasn’t timed and spoke to the fact we had to work as a team, helping each other through the obstacles. It was all about comradery which was the main appeal to us.

What was your fitness background before you did the first event?

Both my husband and I attended bootcamps with a PT at our local park three mornings a week. In fact, we met at a bootcamp in Victoria Park, Auckland, before we moved to Melbourne and our son has our PT’s middle name.

Have you been maintaining your fitness between finishing the last event and training for this Tough Mudder?

I’ve recently returned to work after one year of maternity leave and have set the upcoming Tough Mudder as a goal to get back on the fitness bandwagon. So I’ve teed up two sessions a week with my PT during my lunch break.

tough mudder

– Everest 2.0, one of the obstacles to conquer! –

Do you have any specific goals for yourself for this event?

Not to be carried over the finish line this time around! My cardio was sufficient, but this time around I need to work on my grip strength in particular.

How is your prepping for the event different this time compared to last time you did it?

I know what I’m getting myself into this time, initially I was intimidated by the distance. This time I understand it’s not consistent running and there’s plenty of time to catch your breath as we high-5 after completing the obstacles. Also, I’m doing a fair amount more strength this time around!

What was the most challenging type of obstacle for you?

Without a shadow of doubt, the Cage Crawl where you submerge yourself up to your face and swim backwards under a fence in the water. Terrifying! There’s so many basic human instincts that tell you not to do this, so I fought myself every moment I went through it. To help me cope, I got my husband to go first and my girlfriend to go after me and we sung Waltzing Matilda (when in Rome) and before I knew it we were out the other side!

What did it feel like crossing the finish line last time?

It’s something I’ll never forget, I was so overwhelmed with the sense of accomplishment as adrenaline was pumping through my bloodstream. My husband was equally as proud and he picked me up like a Disney princess and gave me a swooping, swinging hug and a big muddy kiss.

tough mudder

What do you need to support the physical side of your training?

I need the support and encouragement of a PT to keep me on track, but I will do my own cardio in the weekends. Further to this, my sister is a qualified nutritionist so we get regular food plans to keep us fuelled while we train.

What do you do to relax and unwind?

I curl up on the couch with a glass of red wine and binge on all the latest titles to hit Apple TV.

Any tips for first-timers thinking of giving it a go?
  • Training is paramount and it can be a long grind on the day, so be prepared for the mental game. The obstacles can really challenge you, but your team mates will be there to support you along the way.
  • If you’re planning on wearing a GoPro, take a still image of your bib number. If it gets lost, the Tough Mudder team can look at the footage and return it to you!
  • Take a roll of duct tape and strap your trainers on like there’s no tomorrow.
  • Don’t wear anything you want to ever wear again (including trainers, wear old ones). That mud never comes out.

This year Tough Mudder is happening over Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 November at Hampton Downs. For more details on the event or to sign up, check out toughmudder.co.nz.

Images / Supplied

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