The first time I did the Tough Mudder I swore up and down I would never put my body through that kind of misery again. It had been in Cedartown, and it was hotter than hell, and I did it without shoes. Twelve miles of muddy wet trail-running and climbing obstacles and electric shocks with no shoes was terrible.
For those who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is an endurance event series where you and your thrill-seeking, misguided friends run 10 to 12 miles while also tackling several military-style obstacles. The courses are designed by British Special Forces to test mental as well as physical strength. Obstacles often play on common fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights.
The main principle of the Tough Mudder revolves around teamwork. Almost everyone can complete the course with help from their teammates and other runners.
However, when your friends are pretty fit and hardcore like some of mine are, then the race becomes a lot more challenging where you each try to prove that you’re more awesome than the next guy.
So my first Tough Mudder was in Cedartown, and it was hotter than the devil’s nether regions, and I was mad at the world at the end of it. I swore to myself that I would never do it again.
Then the race rolled around the following year, and I gave in to the peer pressure. I guess I don’t want my friends having any fun without me so, while I had no desire to do the challenging obstacle race again, I felt compelled to join them.
I was stupid to do it. The second Tough Mudder I did was in Washington, Ga., on the coldest, windiest day of the year and I froze my cods off. One of the obstacles was called the “Arctic Enema.” You dive into a dumpster filled with ice and water and you have to dive under a barrier and come up on the other side. People were carried off because of hypothermia. Another obstacle had you crawl through a minefield of dangling electric wires. Plus you had to run 12 miles dripping wet in the cold with mud caked all over your body.
This time I was serious when I said I would NEVER EVER do the Tough Mudder again.
Cut to two weeks ago and I was given the “opportunity” to do the dreaded Mudder again. As usual, I fold like origami under any sort of peer pressure and reluctantly agreed to do it.
I’m writing this a day after the event in Fairburn and I have to say it was actually not a bad experience. The weather was better, which helped a lot. There were some pretty exciting and fun obstacles. It was definitely tough. And some of the obstacles were scary, but I am glad I did it.
I’m not glad because of the teamwork or camaraderie or any of that meaningless stuff. What I’m most excited about is that fact that I got a really awesome sweatband out of it.
You know how most of the time at races like that you’ll get T-shirts or other giveaways? Well the last two times I’ve done the Mudder I’ve also gotten their signature bright orange headband. This year, however, they seem to have implemented a new system where you get a different colored headband according to how many Mudders you’ve completed.
So I got an orange headband for completing this year, but I also got to wear a bright green headband during the race to show that I had already run two Mudders and therefore was superior to those around me who were on their first Mudder.
And what’s better is that, after I had completed this most recent race, they gave me a blue headband to signify that I was even more superior to those around me. I was a three-time Mudder.
The headbands change color with the number of runs you’ve done — blue for three, yellow for four to six, pink for seven to nine and all the way up to black for 10 Tough Mudders or more. There are even parts of the course that ONLY Mudder Legionnaires can do. It’s very VIP, very exclusive. The only thing I don’t like is that the word “Legionnaire” makes me think of the disease. But other than that I’m proud to be a Legionnaire, and I have the differently colored headbands to prove that. Now I really want to try to go for that black headband.
Most of my friends know that I usually only do an activity if I can get some tangible reward for doing it. Whether it’s tennis or running or competitive eating I just like to have a trophy or medal or something tangible to prove that I’ve accomplished this thing. The “feeling of accomplishment” or “challenging yourself to do your best” means nothing to me.
So the Tough Mudder people have got me with this one. I’ll definitely be doing more Mudders because I really want to see how much higher in the Mudder Legionnaire hierarchy I can rise.
I’ve got a couple cuts and bruises from this most recent race, but it’s worth it because I also have a blue headband to show people that when it comes to this one specific activity they care nothing about, I am vastly superior to them. And that fills my heart with joy.
So to anyone out there who has ever thought about doing an activity that they may be a little nervous to tackle or intimidated to try because of fear of failure, I say go for it. But don’t do it because it will make you feel better about yourself. Don’t do it because it will get you out of your comfort zone and don’t do it because it may be the start of something great in your life.
Do it because you have the chance to earn a tangible reward that you can then turn around and shove in people’s faces. Do it so you can take photos of your prize and post them to Facebook and Twitter, bragging that none of your friends have that thing. Most of all, do it because your life can only be enriched by material possessions that constantly remind you of your accomplishments.
Find your black headband, whatever that may be, and sacrifice all your energy and financial resources to pursue it. It’s the only way to true happiness.
Severo Avila is features editor at the Rome News-Tribune and an aspiring motivational speaker.