Tough Mudder London West 2018 Race Recap
Tough Mudder London West was the first race of the Tough Mudder Season. It was (probably) the hilliest course (645m total elevation) having some major climbs across the 10 mile course.
However, 2018 is all change for Tough Mudder, gone are the 10 mile course routes and in comes the 2 x 5 mile loops. This bring several advantages to Tough Mudder and the Mudder Legion:
- Saves money and resource reducing the number of water stations and setting up for a 10 mile course
- Opens up more venue choice for Tough Mudder. A 10 mile course covers a massive area
- More obstacles over the 2 lap course (even if some are doubled up)
- Easier for the spectators to get to more obstacles to watch their friends and family
- For those doing Toughest Mudder or World’s Toughest Mudder, it gives a “real” practice and training environment
When the change was announced, there was a lot of kick back from the Legionnaires (those that have done more than one and basically fans of Tough Mudder). There was a lot of talk about “cutting costs” but which business doesn’t look to cut costs of their business? The biggest concern, however, would be queues on course with double the amount of people on course (and later on) several waves on course at any one time. There had already been 4 Tough Mudder events held in the US with the new course system and the feedback was not good. How did Tough Mudder London West fair? Let’s see…
The new Tough Mudder London West layout
It seemed that TM had learned from the early events in the US. First of all, the two loops were not quite identical (as they were in the US). The second lap looped off from the first and joined at different sections and a few obstacles were repeated, these included – Hero walls, Skidmarked (sponsored by Toyo tires), Lumber Jacked and Kiss of Mud. I understand why Tougher Mudder did this at these obstacles – typically they need assistance to get over them, so part of the “Tougher Together” mantra, whilst these obstacles are easy to replicate and place more on course so even though there maybe a few waves hitting the obstacles at a time, because there were so many, the queues weren’t holding people up too much. Apart from Lumber Jacked where there were jut two of them. I skipped it on the second lap as I was too cold to wait around. There were also joins at the water and feed stations.
Everest was the last obstacle on Loop 1 and so for the mudders completing the “Half” before Pyramid Scheme in the village. Due of the issues last year with a number of Everest injuries, Tough Mudder have modified it. It’s shorter, has a gripper surface and the ledge is back to grab on to. Completion rate is really high for Everest now and gives a great sense of satisfaction for those that get to the top aided or not
The second loop seemed to have longer parts of trail running to get to the obstacles. Funky monkey had a change, no longer was there water underneath the obstacle. This has been a big talking point in the Tough Mudder community, as people say it takes away the element of “risk” but for me, I wasn’t too bothered. It was more difficult though, as the revolution wheels came first before the monkey bar ladders (reversed the order from last year). I’m relatively short, so found getting momentum on the wheel pretty difficult.
What I didn’t like about the second lap was that you bypassed Mud mile and BlockNess, possibly two of the most fun Tough Mudder obstacles.
Running the Obstacle Gauntlet
The last mile of the run had cage crawl (vault obstacle), Arctic Enema and then Kong / Kong infinity as an “obstacle Gauntlet. The weather was overcast and a cold 6/7C. Kong saw a lot of failure due to this, and also because of having to deal with Arctic Enema only a few hundred metres before it.
Kong had been relegated from a “legionnaire only” obstacle to one that everyone could do and had been lowered to the ground, whilst Kong Infinity became the upgrade.
Kong Infinity is basically a hamster wheel to the apex of the obstacle with transition to monkey bars over an air bag. Great fun, but I failed due to lack of grip strength because of the cold.
The final obstacle was pyramid scheme 2.0. Happy Ending is yet to appear in the UK ,but we have been promised it’s on its way. Pyramid Scheme 2.0 had water at the bottom about waist deep before the climb to the top. Its a typical Tough Mudder obstacle, needing team work to get everyone up and over. Without the ropes you would need 3 or 4 people to conquer it. A great obstacle, but to be honest, not nearly as fun for the spectators to watch than Electro Shock Therapy. Which I forgot had been relegated to the second loop and much shorter and a shadow of it’s former self.
The course was much more spectator friendly than before, most of the major obstacles were only up to 10 minutes walk from the village. Which was great as it allowed me to go out after my run and take a few photos. Virgin Active and Bosch seemed to have left as sponsors, but Black Tower and Brew Dog have replaced them. More drinks at the finish along with the Kingston Press Cider, Trek Bars, T shirt and headband.
The weather played a massive part in my enjoyment of this course – I was going to go out and do another lap, but decided against it and went to get warm instead. In the sun, I think this layout would work amazingly well. But in this weekend’s weather (7C and overcast) it wasn’t so much fun.
My overall verdict? B-, not nearly as bad as some had foretold, but with a few modifications, I think the new two loop system would work. The course itself is very hilly. Be prepared!
See my review from the second weekend – What a difference a week makes.
Discount Code for Tough Mudder UK races
As a Tough Mudder Ambassador, I have a discount code for people wanting to try their first Tough Mudder – use the code BRANDUK272 for a 30% discount off any Full, Half or 5km race. This is available to UK mudders only and for their first time.
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