Even though I am in my third year of running Tough Mudder, this was my first time at Tough Mudder Scotland. I’m quite lazy when it comes to travelling and so trekking three and a half hours up north has never really excited me. However, this year, as a season pass holder, I was determined to get full value and so a weekend in Dumfries with the SoloMudders was booked. We didn’t camp (f*** the midges), but clubbed together to get an awesome 6 bedroomed AirBnb around 30 minutes from the course venue.
The only thing I knew about Tough Mudder Scotland was that it’s notorious for midges and it was”not as hilly as London West, but similar to Yorkshire” in elevation. With the new two-loop course design, the course will have changed from 2017, but I knew to expect some of the big obstacles TM is known for.
On arrival, parking was a bit strange – seemed to be a little further from the village as usual (probably because the village and course is on a hill) but the marshals also decided to put the early arrivals at the farthest point of the car park. However, we got there in time and registration was pretty simple (as always). If you have never been to a Tough Mudder, you just need to remember to bring your QR code (on your phone is fine) and some ID. The village on both days wasn’t as busy as London and there seemed to be a larger abundance of newbies. It does seem a lot of the Scottish Mudders only did Tough Mudder Scotland, this can be forgiven as the next nearest venue is around 180 miles further south near Chester.
Bag drop (£3 with 100% donated to Help for Heroes) was pretty swift and they have improved this by having bags in sections according to wave time. Easier to find – and should anything happen to the participant, makes it easier for the staff to find too.
Matt took the warm up and Gil, the pledge, and we were off.
The first section out of the village was pretty flat where we hit
- Skidmarked – angled walls
- Bale Bonds – just some hay bales
We then went into the forest and started the long climb up!
- Lumberjacked – Sternum Checker
- BlockNess Monster – Spinning blocks in water
- Birth Canal – Dark tunnel passage with water pushing down on you. This can become very claustrophobic
- Hero Carry – Piggy back and switch
- Devil’s Beard – Cargo net (there’s usually a large hay bale under this to crawl over, but so far in 2018 it has just been a cargo net. However, on the sunday, the crawl was through some squelchy sloppy mud for the whole cral. The girl in front of me lost both trainers. I had to grab them out of the mud (they were really stuck) and carry them through to the end.
There seemed to be a lot of trail running between obstacles. The elevation climb wasn’t steep, but continuous! On the Sunday, a lot of the trail had become sloppy mud, making running more difficult and tiring. There has seemed to be a few complaints about the running, but for me, running and the route is an essential part of the course.
By this point we were pretty much at the top of the c200m climb and started to move back down the hill.
- Mud Mile – Mud trenches filled with water to wade through
- Sewer Rat – pipe crawl into the pond
- Kiss of Mud – barbed wire crawl through mud
- Swamp Stomp – Not very swampy on the Saturday, but really lived up to it’s name on the Sunday.
This muddy section was well contained, obstacles were pretty close to each other with three of the four all within sight of each other. I thought this was an interesting section as it kept all the mud together – whether this was particularly by design or not, I am unsure but if all other courses had a similar obstacle layout, I’d be happy.
A long down hill section on a very gravelly path (potential ankle breaker if you wasn’t careful) towards the second hydration and nutrition stop (Lucozade and Trek bars, two of the sponsors for 2018). Then followed another downhill section (shorter but steeper on grass) towards the next obstacle.
- Hero Walls – 2m high walls x 2 to climb over with a little help from your friends if required.
- Everest – half pipe. This actually beat me on the Saturday (damn you rain) and needed help from my fellow mudders to scale it.
This ended the first loop where the “Half” participants headed for Pyramid Scheme and the finish line. For those doing the full – ElectroShock Therapy awaited. I am one of those that loves to hate this obstacle. I don’t mind getting shocked, but it is the anticipation of the shock which is the killer! What I did miss was EST not being in the village. For Scotland, this has changed and once again it was pulling in the crowds. It was at the other end of the village compared to the finish line and Pyramid Scheme, butI personally think it’s a great spectator sport. I managed to get away with not being shocked on both days!
- Arctic Enema – ice bath plunge with second dunk for good measure. This was followed by a long trail run up the hill and through the valley. Partial course change on the Sunday to meet back up at Lumberjacked
- Cage Crawl – a 20m length of water in which you look up to the sky and use the chain fence to guide you through. Generally the pool is deep enough that just your face is above water.
- Devil’s Beard (again)
- Mud Mile (again)
- Sewer Rat (again)
- Liberator – A frame wall in which you use pegs to scale up it
- Funky Monkey – After London West, Funky Monkey has returned with water and the original way around (money bars then wheels). I failed this on Saturday (Stupid rain, I really need to work on grip strength) but completed it Sunday with no issue
- Irish Table – A ledge hanging out of hero walls is supposed to make it more difficult – in fact, its a bit easier as there are more places to grab
- Kong / Kong Infinity – Again, I failed this on Saturday and managed to complete it (with a few mis-steps) on the Sunday
- Pyramid Scheme – I am starting to enjoy this more and more. The ultimate team work obstacle in which you need your fellow team mates, communication and trust to get to the top. We have done this a few times now, so have this down to a tee. You can do this with a minimum of two, but 3 or more is ideal.
I really enjoyed the route. Climbing the hill twice as part of the course with a total elevation gain of around 450m makes for a good obstacle itself. I heard a few complaints about the running sections. At least it was “interesting” running, especially on the Sunday where the mud played a crucial part in sapping leg strength. The muddy section was well thought out and I appreciate electro shock therapy back in the village area. We’re just waiting for “Happy Ending” to appear.
The village wasn’t as busy and so lacked a little atmosphere, but the Saturday weather wise was a write-off – Storms and lightening isnt great for spectators (or runners for that matter). Whilst Sunday was better, the midges were also out and about. The course also missed Mini-mudder, but I am assuming this is just down to not enough minis wanting to run.
So far, Tougher Mudder Scotland was the most interesting UK route of 2018. Not as hilly as London West (thankfully), whilst Midlands was pretty flat. I’m looking forward to going back again in 2019 – but this might be down to the jacuzzi we had in the AirBnB!
Photo Credits – Epic Action Imagery and Alan Watson Photos.