Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder-Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet.

or

Tough Mudder-Probably the Worst Run Event on the Planet
Tough Mudder-Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet...to get to.
Tough Mudder-Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet....but I'll never know.


These are just a couple of the hundreds of slams Tough Mudder Took on their Facebook page this weekend. What a colossal disaster. Here is my story....

I love mud runs. I have been looking forward to testing myself and pushing myself to concur a TM course for over a year. So, in January when they opened registration for TM Mid-Atlantic I said "Where do I sign up?" And I gladly handed over $118.15. The event soon sold out. Or so we thought. They opened more slots up and then those sold out and in turn they opened more slots up until they were up to 24,000 participants for a two day event to be held in Fredrick, MD at Crumland Farms. A venue not meant to hold anywhere close to that amount of people.

Friday

Approx. 3pm: We depart Hampton Roads. We hit a bit of traffic on the Peninsula, which was to be expected. Little did we know this was going to be the theme of the weekend!
Approx. 6pm: We have a great dinner at a little Italian restaurant in Fredricksburg, VA. I wish I could remember the name.
Approx. 9:30pm: We arrive at Meagan's Aunt's house about an hour away from Fredrick (55 minutes actually). She graciously let us stay the night.

Saturday

Saturday approx. 7:40am: We depart on our 55 minute trip to Crumland Farms.
Meagan and Chad, pumped to start the quest to earn their orange headbands!


Approx 8:40: We arrive onto US 15, five miles from the course. TM texts us to take exit 16 b/c of traffic. Someone should have told them exit 16 was closed :(
Approx 9:40: Still in the car about 4.5 miles from the race.
Approx 10:40: Still in the car about 4.2 miles from the race.

This is shortly before we decided to abandon ship.

Approx 11:40: Still in the car. People are starting to abandon their vehicles in local shopping plaza's, church parking lots and neighborhoods.
Approx 12:00: We do the same, 2 miles from the course and start walking.
Now at this time the wind is gone from my TM sails. I was angry, hungry, and annoyed. Oh-and I had to pee, as did everyone else. Some people relieved themselves along the road in peoples back yards, off ramps, etc... I was too afraid of the wild animals to pee in the bushes. Thanks TM.


Approx 12:10: We started walking to the course. The road turned into a two lane country road that lead us out to this old farm. Apparently, the farmland is going to be developed soon and this was a last hurrah. Too bad, it was beautiful.

Two lane country road. We weren't the only ones who decided to walk.

Approx 1:00: We arrived at The Tough Mudder. I was still pissed, but I tried to rally for my friends and turn the day around. We got our race bibs, checked our gear, and hit the 5 port-a-potty's they had for 24,000 people. Oh, that's right everyone went on the side of the road. Why have enough toilets? No need. The first port-a-potty I went into was almost overflowing. It was the worst thing I have ever seen and no matter how hard I try,  I can't get that vision out of my head! Thanks TM.

Trying to make the most of it. Does my smile look forced?


Approx 1:30: We get in the corral. We do some calisthenics as a group, which if I wasn't mad would have been fun, but at this time I thought it totally lame.

Approx 1:40: We finally get to the starting line where there is a "hype man". Who btw, was actually really good. Again, if didn't feel like a little kid who let go of her balloon and had to watch it float up and away, I would have been totally stoked! He was pumping the crowd with some OooRAH's, but then he was also bragging that this was the biggest TM event to date at 24, 000 people. OooRAH! No, no OooRAH's. It sucked. I didn't want to be reminded of the gazillions of people who were still on that two lane country road trying to park. So no, NO OooRAH's for me.

Approx 2:00: When we left the car it was hot and sunny. When we arrived at the course it was cooling down as a front was making its way toward us. The sky was BLACK. The wind was really kicking up and the sun was gone. Rain soaked clouds made up the sky. We ran for about half a mile or so to the first obstacle, The Artic Enemia, to be told that their was lightening within 5 miles and all the water obstacles were closed (13 of the 25) but we could still run. Still RUN? I didn't purchase a half marathon ticket, train for months, lose out on time with my family, spend my hard earned money, and drive 250 miles to just run in a farmers feild! We decided to wait at the obstacle to see if it would pass. (Obviously, I know that TM could do absolutely nothing about mother nature.)

Approx 2:15: It was down pouring, big, heavy, COLD rain. We are still at the first obstacle. Waiting. Another wave comes through. Most of the them have a look of bewilderment when they are told they can't jump into the freezing water. Some stay, some go. Someone in the crowd started chanting "WE SIGNED A WAIVER!" "WE SIGNED A WAIVER!" I might have signed a waiver, but there was no way in hell I was getting into that freezing water in the middle of a lightening storm. You can say I am not tough, but I say I am not stupid.

Approx 2:20: We were told the the obstacles would be closed for at least 45 minutes while the storm moves through. At this point I am STARVING. I planned on running by 11:00, so that is what I fueled for. Even if I was ok with just running the course, there was no way I could do 12 miles. I would have passed out at the 5 mile mark! So we decided to leave the course and get some food while we waited for the storm to pass.

Approx 2:25: By this time the storm was in full effect and I was on the verge of hypothermia. We took shelter under the stage and struck up conversation with some others that also took refuge there. I get my chicken sandwich and take some bananas from the finish line. I try to harness the heat from my foil wrapped sandwich, holding it close to my body. It's pointless. I could have turned a cup of fruit into a smoothie, I was shaking so hard.

Approx 2:40: We decided we needed more food and/or needed to get running. We left our refuge and as we were walking to the bag check tent...LIGHTENING!!! Right.Over.Head. Final.Straw. As it was storming overhead, they announced that the last corral would be at 2:45. Again, not running 12 miles in a lightening storm.

Approx 2:45: We headed back to the car in a state of shock, disappointment, and frustration. The only positive of not being able to actually drive and park at the event was the state of the farmers field turned parking lot turned Tow Mater's wet dream. 

For the next 5 hours we checked the TM FB page for updates, but all we found were angry messages from other participants such as ourselves.

Sunday
TM releases this statement and video message: http://toughmudder.com/events/mid-atlantic-2012/

This was on FredrickNewsPost. com: TM Officials Plan Refund

TM admits that they dropped the ball. I am getting a refund and a voucher for TM VB, June 2013. I'm glad they are trying to make things right and I hope to give them a more favorable review come June. My feelings of anger are dissipating, only to be replaced by disappointment. I am still amazed at the amount of blatant corporate greed that went down by selling that many spots for a venue that clearly could NOT accommodate that many people.

My concern that remains regardless if they figure out their traffic situation is: what if all those people were able to park and participate in the event how good of an event would it have been? I don't know about you, but jogging a mile or so to wait in line for an obstacle is not fun or challenging for me. I think they need to cap the race at a reasonable number per venue per day. Convenient parking is just one part of the race experience. Getting through the course without being slowed down by bottlenecks is another.

What is your worst race experience? Have you run a Tough Mudder? What was your experience? Should I forgive and forget?

2 comments:

  1. That sounds so frustrating!!I heard it was cancelled, but could not understand why . . . now I do . . . I thought the race was in the AM. That storm was BAD!! I say forgive and forget . . . that is nice that you get entry into the TM in VA beach. I have never done a TM, so I do not know if there is normally problems at the obstacles.

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  2. What a mess! I have heard other people rave about TM. Maybe they didn't know how to grow. Hope the next chance is better. I would have been a basket case.

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