Tough Mudder – A spectators perspective
So, Alan had signed up to do a Tough Mudder with one of my friends Rebecca. There was quite a lot of information out there on what to expect for the competitors but not much for the spectators so I wasn’t sure what it would be like.
I am used to watching/supporting at triathlons and cycling events and generally these are very friendly affairs – usually with lots of sitting and waiting around and of course tea and cake. I suspected Tough Mudder would be a little different. A little digging around on the internet suggested this would be a busy, muddy and potentially soggy day (weather dependant) and to come well prepared – appropriate clothes, footwear etc.
To be honest I was a little fed up with Tough Mudder by the time the weekend came. We paid for Alan to enter (fair enough) but paying (over £10 a head) for me to spectate and for Morgan to either spectate or do the mini mudder seemed a bit over the top. To top it all off we also had to pay around £15 to park which just seems like a money making scheme given the course is not accessible any way other than driving (or walking a long way to it!)
The weekend arrived and we set off the day before and stayed over night close by due to the early(ish) start the following morning. Tough Mudder suggested arriving at least an hour before the start time so we were there nice and early which was a good thing because as we got close the traffic came to a standstill with everyone trying to enter the venue at the same time. There were plenty of people on the gate to check you have paid for parking – or charge you (more) on the day if you hadn’t. Fortunately we were parked fairly close to all the action. We were certainly glad we hadn’t paid for VIP parking to be any closer as it wouldn’t have made any difference. It might be worth it for those arriving later in the day as some cars did seem to be parked a long way off as we were leaving but we didn’t have any problems.
We then entered the queuing system to get in. We all had tickets and ID and joined the lengthy queues at the gate. Actually the organisation here was pretty good and we were soon on our way. Wwe would have been quicker if Morgan could have made up his mind a little sooner about whether we needed to join the mini mudder queue or the spectator queue but never mind!
Once we all had our wrist bands and were inside everything seemed quite organised. LOADS of portaloos on site so again what looked like long queues moved on quickly. I was happy to carry bags for our team but they did leave some stuff in the bag drop (again for a charge). Actually it might be worth mentioning here that there was a bag drop and it did save me carrying clothes etc for our 4 team members. However, there was a charge, and it was just a case of leave your bag and then go and pick it up – no real security so you wouldn’t want to leave anything of value in there.
Spectating on the course
Then it was off to the start. Again quite well organised with several stages of a holding pen and warm up before being taken over to the start line and this was where Morgan and I started our photographer/team support role for the day. There was a spectator route that was well marked out. It didn’t cover a lot of the course but we managed to catch up with the team every 3 miles or so. Plenty of good photo opportunities and lots of action to watch while we were waiting around for our team. We were very lucky that it was a dry day with a little sun (not too much) so perfect spectator conditions. If it had been raining we would either have had to get wet (and probably very muddy) or just sit in the car all day. As it was we could sit on the grass eating our snacks while we waited. We also seemed to walk quite a long way, up and down a couple of steep hills. Nothing like the tough mudders were doing but people with pushchairs were really struggling. Timing was tricky and it took us a little while to figure out when to expect our team to come through and we missed watching them at Everest so that we could catch them at the finish line. It didn’t really matter – there was lots going on wherever we watched from.
Morgan wasn’t sure about this and we pfaffed about queueing and then not queueing but in the end he did sign up. We were supposed to sign up for a time slot but actually when the time came we were on the far side of the tough mudder course so didn’t rush back and they were happy for Morgan to slot into the next event when we did eventually get there. It is for ages 8-12 and we were worried that Morgan might be the biggest there – but it was fine – there was a large range of ages/sizes and Morgan wasn’t out of place. Parents can’t go on the course but can watch every obstacle with plenty of photo opportunities. There was even an ice-cream van and seats in the finish area. The kids do 3 laps (although there is nothing stopping them finishing after 1 if they wanted to) and the obstacles are based on the larger adult versions. They had their very own mud mile, Everest and monkey bars. I think it was quite easy for Morgan to complete but he looked like he had fun and was pleased with his headband at the end. He managed to stay pretty mud free but I imagine it would be a different story on a wet day.
- Get there early – At least an hour but probably earlier if you can.
- Wear boots/wellies – Especially if the ground is likely to be wet.
- Be prepared to get muddy – There is a lot of mud and muddy people there.
- Take snacks – It’s along day
- Don’t plan to carry too much – You have a long way to carry it
- Go to the toilet early – Before they have been used all day – or use the toilets in the mini mudder compound (less people/less use!)
- If you are buying food on site get in early – Once all the tough mudders start finishing it gets really busy.
- Maybe leave the smaller children at home – It’s a long day and if you want to watch along the course there is a lot of walking along a route which isn’t very pushchair friendly.