Tough Mudder London West 2019 Obstacle Race Review

After much hype of new and upgraded obstacles and with the 5km urban race just a few weeks ago, the UK Tough Mudder season finally opened with Tough Mudder London West, near Henley on Thames (not really “London”)

After a shaky 2018 season with “twoloopgate” (which I personally enjoyed) Tough Mudder returned to their routes with a single loop course whilst upgrading familiar obstacles, bringing new obstacles and having “level up” lanes for people who really wanted a challenge.

Watch my video below for a complete run through of the Tough Mudder London West “Classic” course (around 8 miles). We went out on the first wave of Sunday morning, so does look a little “quiet” – however around 14,000 went through on Saturday and 6,000 on the Sunday.

The obstacle list

  • Hero Walls – Three levels of walls to clamber over – 4ft, 7ft and 10ft (at a guess)
  • Overtired – Was showcased at Tough Mudder Urban earlier this year. Large pyramid to traverse over, using ropes and tyres to get to the top
  • Hero Carry – Piggy back a friend and switch
  • Everest – quarter pipe ramp to the top with three levels (a new level up lane) making it achievable for everyone to get to the top and definitely needing team work to summit the highest level.
  • Devils Beard – Long cargo net crawl in the shape of a U
  • Kiss of Mud – Crawl through dirt underneath low barbed wire.
  • Block Ness Monster – The most fun obstacle (when it’s warm). Two large spinning blocks in water in which a team is needed to spin them for people to get over and across. First photo opportunity!
  • Hold Your Wood – Carry a telegraph pole with your team across and around a small track
  • Quagmire – Second photo op! Large ditch, a lot of mud and water (not quite mud mile though)
  • Boa Constrictor – crawl down a tube. Crawl through water and under barbed wire, crawl back up a tube. The level up lane doesn’t have ropes to help pull you up and out
  • Cage Crawl – On your back in floating in water with a cage over the top of the pool meaning that only your nose mouth and eyes are exposed to the air whilst the rest of you is submerged. The level up lane is a full submersion under water (around 1:30 on the video)
  • Spread Eagle – Slack line traverse over a pool of water. The level up lane here sees the slack lines get further apart towards the end.
  • Leap of Faith – A new obstacle for 2019 after successful testing at Worlds Toughest Mudder. This was a leap to a cargo net, with transistion to a sliding pole across the water. A fun obstacle and is just mind over matter as to whether you will keep hold of the net.
  • Black Widow – New obstacle! Most slack lines over water, but this time you are traversing across with a large number of other slcack lines crossing the path. You’re unable to stay on one slack line and must move from one to another to get to the other side. A simple and effective obstacle made more fun by shaking your friend’s lines trying to get them to fall.
  • Funky Monkey – Upgrade from last year removing the monkey bars and introducing poles and ladders to get to the spinning wheels. Slightly easier overall, but ensures that the failure rate is reduced and more enjoyable for the masses. The level up lane combines a rope climb before the spinning wheels.
  • Entrapment – Another new obstacle from testing in 2018 – basically a low crawl, but rather than barbed wires, they are electrified instead
  • Hydrophobia – Pool of water with three full submersion and photo opportunity.
  • The Whopper – This is better known as the Gauntlet an showcased at Worlds Toughest Mudder. Four obstacles in one – balance beam, pole traverse, rings, wall hang. Photo opportunity if you managed to finish it and the “level up” lane was a pretty much impossible traverse using tiny climbing wall grips along the wall hang. Great obstacle!
  • Arctic Enema – Plunge into ice bath. An oldie, but a goodie!
  • Killa Gorilla – As if Tough Mudder London West doesnt have enough hills, they make one into an obstacle. Hill repeats anyone?
  • Agustus Gloop – After missing out in 2018, AG comes back with an upgrade and level up lane. The showers are sronger and the tubes are smaller to give a more claustrophobic feel. With the level up lane, there are climbing wall holds rather than the standard ladder.
  • Texas Hold ’em – a team work traverse across a traingular beam. Watch out, the beam shakes too
  • Pyramid Scheme – Assemble your team and get to the top. You will need help to summit Pyramid scheme.
  • Mudderhorn – New for 2019. A large 52m high cargo net climb up and over with fantastic views from the top.
  • Electric Shock Therapy – Back to where it belongs as the finisher obstacle. 10,000 volts of electricity through the gauntlet. Take it slow and hope a gust of wind doesn’t come out of no where, or just run through as fast as possible. A great spectator sport and made better now TMHQUK have commentary back too.

My Thoughts

What a great start to the season! Having ran here a few times now, I know this is the hilliest UK course but with that, comes some great views and descents. There does seem to be more obstacles with less running between – the longest stretch on the classic course would be around 1km between obstacles.

I thought the “level up” lanes worked very well allowing people to achieve a “completion” whilst also perhaps wanting to come back again to get to the next level. With the introduction of the 5km option, Tough Mudder are working hard to bring even more people to Obstacle Course Runs. With Park Run, I do believe that more people will think 5km is more achievable than then “half” distance which itself would have been around 8 – 10km.

Mud Mile was conspicuous by it’s absence – I’m personally not a huge fan of it, but Tough Mudder is synonymous with this obstacle. Sign of things to come perhaps?

The village atmosphere was electric! One side of the village allowed spectators to see the last three obstacles (Pyramid scheme, Mudderhorn and Electric Shock Therapy) with masses of photo opportunities. I especially liked the run through Mudderhorn just before the finish line.

Another great touch was the introduction of the grandstand to watch electric shock therapy (rightfully back at the finish). With Matt, the MC presiding over the finish, it’s a great place to watch. I still remember my first TM (North West 2016) and spending over an hour watching other participants go through EST. This is worth the entrance fee alone.

Grade: A-

All in all, a great start to the season. If Tough Mudder London West has anything to go by, I canot wait to see what the rest of the season.

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Wil Chung