Tough Mudder North West is where it all began for me in 2015. This is now my third trip to Chomondley Castle in Cheshire, incidently only 15 miles from my home and is definitely my “home” race. How does it compare to other Tough Mudders this season and from past TMNW? Read on and find out.
First of all, the weather over the weekend was terrible – cold and wet, this made the course very muddy. Given it’s reputation for the muddiest Tough Mudder course in the UK, this weekend was no exception. The course was churned up by Saturday afternoon and those running on the Sunday was treated to a veritable mud bath. Many mudders taking up to 6 hours to complete the course just because it was so muddy. However, I managed to run early on the Saturday morning with a relatively fresh course.
They did make some minor amends to the course as from previous years, not only in terms of obstacles, but in route also. I think overall, the distance was pretty similar (11 miles) but for those that remember the course, would have been a little disorientated from time to time. It didnt change the enjoyment of the course, it was just different.
The first run out was pretty long with only filler obstacles to break up the running. Wasn’t as bad as Tough Mudder Germany but was probably close to 2km before getting to BlockNess. I love this obstalce, but the weather wasn’t favourable so we helped our fellow mudders across the two blocks before moving on.
After this, a few obstacles came up pretty quickly including birth canal (not a fan), creek crusade (used to be island hopping) Kiss of Mud and then into Arctic Enema. AE wasn’t as cold as it has been (perhaps we didnt feel it so much as we were already so cold). It already seemed to smell a bit – something tha usually happens on the Sunday – but a very wet and dirty kiss of mud mud has to be washed off somewhere..
Mud mile was pretty epic. And very much like TM South West, very tall peaks where you needed help from other mudders to get up and over. Seemed pretty long too – perhaps 5 peaks in total. I did see on my return (you did it twice over the course) queues building up and I believe it was closed for the return trip to ease the queues.
Some good trail running through fields, greens and woods was broken up nicely with filler obstacles including Killa Gorilla (switch backs up a hill) and Hero Walls. Between the 5 of us, we managed to do Pyramid scheme properly. I even got “tea bagged” (maybe you shouldnt look that up kids) by a couple of solo mudders as we were getting up. However, team work is the aim of the game with Pyramid Scheme – not the ol’ running up the side.
Reach Around was difficult – the bars were wet from the rain, so I “cheated” a bit and used the sides. I didn’t really feel safe enough with the little grip I had to try and muscle up. Oh well, I know I can do it. It was the same with Funky Monkey – I only managed to make 3 bars before falling into the water. I didnt even get a bloody photo there! Creek Crusade was a pretty long route (and reversed) around 300m through the water which was only waist deep this year – I remember last year it being so much deeper.
Agustus gloop was the final obstacle before a short run down to Everest. I heard they closed down Everest on Saturday afternoon due to the rain, but the placement of Agustus Gloop right before it was a mistake in my opinion too. We got there the same time as “tougher” competitors to I and some others used the rope to get up Everest. I then stayed around to help a few runners who tried to get up the “usual” way. Renee attempted it 10 times before we managed to haul her ass up Everest to the applause of the on-lookers. Kudos to her, I would have given up much earlier on.
On to KONG (failed due to wet rings) and Electro Shock Therapy. I took it on with a newbie friend. He got floored, whilst I got zapped about 10 times. It’s never bothered me too much before, perhaps one of these days it will floor me too. Until then, here are pictures of Joe on the floor!
So how does this rank with other Tough Mudders this season? Well not the best so far – that goes to London West and not the worst, that was South West but probably mid-table with Yorkshire. How does it live up to North West before hand? Well, I am sad they didn’t have island hopping and they swapped ShawShanked for Agustus Gloop (I dislike both equally). However the trail running was better this time, with much less running on the horrid rubble road – only around 200m compared to about 1.5km last year. So definitely an improvement from last year. All they need to do is put agustus gloop earlier on before Everest (to allow people to dry off) and have something more interesting at the start of the course in the long run up to BlockNess.
All said and done, a solid Tough Mudder and looking forward to the next.