Tough Mudder North West 2018 Race Review with video run through

Tough Mudder North West has the reputation as the muddiest UK course. The one obstacle – swamp stomp is notorious for participants being able to actually swim in the mud, whilst people have been known to be stuck enough to need a winch out!

Tough Mudder North West 2018 Race Run through

Based on the Cholmondeley Estate, near Chester, the classic course has all the different terrains and elevations that a obstacle runner could wish for. However,  with the new 2-loop layout Tough Mudder has introduced, has TMHQUK managed to keep all the good things about Tough Mudder North West?

The obstacles

  • Bale Bonds – Stacked hay bales going straight into an uncredited Devil’s Beard – cargo net crawl with hay bale scramble
  • Skidmarked – tilted 10ft wall
  • Sewer Rat – pipe crawl into a mud pit – Early Saturday, the pit was just water, but became very muddy throughout the day and on the Sunday was a total mud-pit
  • Kiss of Mud – crawl through mud, under barbed wire
  • Hero Walls – 10ft walls
  • Hero Carry – Piggy back
  • Mud Mile – Series of mud trenches and mud mounds
  • Log Jammin – over / under / through log piles
  • BlockNess Monster – two rotating blocks in water requiring team work to get over the obstacle. 
  • Quagmire – muddy pit and over a mud hill. Early on Saturday, this was pretty tame, by Sunday it lived up to it’s name
  • Creek Crusade – shallow wade through a lake
  • Birth Canal – crawl underneath a tarp of water. The further in you go, the more difficult the crawl as you are crushed under the weight of the water
  • This is the end of the “Blue Loop” and for the “Half” participants, they go onto Everest and Pyramid Scheme to the finish line.
  • Orange loop begins and the second half of the “Full” course.
  • Electroshock Therapy – running the gauntlet through dangling wires of 10,000 volts of electrcity
  • Funky Monkey – The revolution – monkey bars and spinning wheels over water
  • Alpha Test 2 – basically pontoons (an upgraded version of “Island Hopping” with a long wade to and from the structure
  • Liberator – peg board climb up a 15ft wall
  • Sewer Rat
  • Kiss of Mud
  • Arctic Enema – slide into ice water with a dunk for good measure. This is a full submersion obstacle
  • Creek Crusade – a second wade through water
  • Twinkle Toes – balance beam but with VERY wobbly beams. Pretty impossible to stay on across both sets of beams
  • Alpha Test 3 – long crawl underneath ribbons of electric wire
  • Everest – quarter pipe ramp at two levels for all abilities
  • Pyramid Scheme 2.0 – Team work climb up to the top of the pyramid

My Thoughts

So how did it fair compared to last year’s course? It hurts to say this but terrible! I ran both days – Saturday morning and then on one of the last waves on Sunday. My friends and I didn’t really enjoy the Saturday and I was ready to write up an even worse review than I am, but I really, really enjoyed the Sunday course much more, so I have soften to the course a little.

First of all – the differences between the two runs:

  • Ground was flattened – the Saturday was awful for uneven ground and the long run around mile 6 was definitely an ankle turner. With over 10,000 people running before I got to run on the Sunday, this ground was trodden down
  • The weather – Sunday was much warmer and sunnier – it always puts a smile on anyone’s face
  • Muddier – Although not quite up to the usual muddiness of Tough Mudder North West, Sewer Rat and Mud Mile did their best to bring pretty epic mud
  • The two loops took out the forest / trail run and a lot of elevation as well as the mighty Swamp Stomp. Fortunately it also removed the horrible rocky road which always seemed to be an accident waiting to happen

The two alpha test obstacles were interesting – it’s great to see TMHQ trying out ideas on course for people to feed back, but alpha test 3 (crawl under electric ribbon) seemed a little boring, and unless you knew they were testing it to possibly become a horizontal version of Electric Shock Therapy, it just seemed a repeat of Kiss of Mud. Alpha Test 2 – whilst the idea of having floating pontoons out on water is a great idea, the blocks were rock hard and dragging yourself across them (you couldnt run or walk across) brought a lot of bruising and scrapes.

It’s very strange that Tough Mudder South West was a course that would have benefited from the new two loop format, whilst I thought that Tough Mudder North West would have benefited from keep the original layout. 

The course route was pretty vanilla , hardly any elevation, the majority running across open grass plains with very little trail or forest running.

Lacking Pizazz!

We were warned that Kong Infinity (THE statement obstacle of Tough Mudder) would not be in attendance due to the recent issues with queuing. However, they didn’t really replace it with anything else… Kong wasn’t even there which was strange – surely the two aren’t actually joined at the hips? Yes, there was BlockNess, Arctic Enema and Funky Monkey, but not having Kong, the course lacked a big rig. My thought was why not bring Giant A Hole like they have brought to the 5KM courses and London North, when they couldn’t bring BlockNess. Added to this, there were no other Legionnaire options – No Irish Table, no Back Stabber (both easy options to be made from obstacles already present) or even bring a vault obstacle purely for Legionnaires

Samsung obviously doesn’t like to travel North, which I think hurt the village – a lot of the times, the Samsung brings a DJ and sound system as well as an opportunity to do some form of Slo Mo promotion to win a new Galaxy phone. They weren’t here in the village or out on course, usually at mud mile. No music, no MC, and so lacked some of the atmosphere.

Final Verdict

It really pains me to say this, but this was probably one of the worst courses in the UK season (coming from near the top in 2017). Very much a fall from grace.  The course had the feel of being “dumbed down” – flat, long running, very little mud and lacking the atmosphere of some of the courses. I hear rumours that TMHQ may be reverting to a 1 lap course and for Tough Mudder North West, I really hope that’s the case.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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Wil Chung