How did you first hear about Tough Mudder? When was your first event?
I first discovered Tough Mudder when I watched a YouTube video by Andy (Moustache-man) Thom and I noticed he was wearing a T-shirt with a ‘Tough Mudder’ logo on. At that point I didn’t realise my life was about to change but being the geek I am and working with brands, I naturally Google’d ‘Tough Mudder’ and watched the promo videos.
Straight away I knew I wanted to do this but at that time the only events were in the USA. I eagerly found a form on the website to keep up with upcoming events and news and I filled it in. A few weeks later I got an email that said Tough Mudder was coming to the UK in 2012. I showed the videos to a friend and we decided to sign up for that first event in Kettering 2012.From the moment I finished my first Tough Mudder I knewI would be back for more (a lot more as it turned out).
What about Tough Mudder got you hooked?
I’m asked this often, particularly by myself when freezing cold, standing at the bottom of a muddy Hero Wall or sliding down Everest on my face. Back in 2012, that 12 miles seemed a l-o-n-g way and many of the obstacles were (and still are) a challenge for me. But I think it’s that challenge that first hooked me, I guess I’m just the type of person that sees opportunity in adversity and if someone puts a wall in front of me I want to find out what’s on the other side, even more so if people tell me I can’t do it.
How are you able to do so many each year?
I knew 2013 was going to be awesome the minute I discovered the Tough Mudder Season Pass which meant I could do all the UK events for one price. Over the years I’ve met a great group of fellow Seasons Pass holders as well as the King and Queen of MVP’s (Miranda and Guy), so we now ‘road-trip’ together up and down the country, sharing petrol, food, and giggles.
I’m also fortunate to have a supportive partner and kids that allow me out to play and tolerate my muddy fun obsession. They come to watch and support us when they can and my son is a serial Mini Mudder too. It makes me proud that he always stops on mini-Everest to help the kids behind him.
It’s funny when people can’t believe I have done so many, but I have. I’ve got the friends, scars, and stories to prove it. I’m not alone, a couple of guys (Anthony and Leigh) I’ve shared many miles of mud with are also recently hit 50x.
People also often say things like “You must have deep pockets…” and imply Tough Mudder is expensive, to which my reply is simply “Nope. Get a Season Pass or Volunteer”. The cost of such a great experience is relative but even if a Season pass is outside your budget or you just can’t get to enough events to justify the price, you can always volunteer and get a discounted run, even on the same day.
Do you volunteer often?
Like most, I find Volunteering extremely rewarding and as much fun (if not more) than putting yourself through hell out on course for several hours. Not only does doing it get you the discount, free camping, hot showers and MVP only gear, but you’re also fed and become part of the wider Mudder family. If you’ve been on course you’ll already know it just wouldn’t be the same without the MVPs and that’s why after a lap or two, you’ll usually find me wearing an MVP shirt too, I’d recommend everyone that does Tough Mudder try it at least once (even if you get that Season pass).
What is your favourite UK course?
Favorite? I hate them all equally for the challenges they bring. However, Henley usually stands out as brutal – probably because it’s usually first of the season, oh, and it has some horrible hills that Tough Mudder seem to utilise nicely.
When did you first realise that 50 was a real possibility?
It just kind of crept up on me really… I’d run many multiple laps (which don’t count toward legion headbands anyway) but I think it was when I celebrated running my 500th Mudder mile (counting each lap as 10 miles due to course variance) I realised that I wasn’t too far away from a landmark target. Then when it was announced the 50th headband was coming I knew I’d be among the first to get it, if not the first (in Europe – there are some legendary Americans that have already got it).
I know the two other guys that are there too and between the three of us we’d a good idea that we were the only ones to get to 50X this year. It was awesome to be Europe’s first 50x Mudder but that’s because the other guys deferred theirs until the North West event as it’s special for them. I guess if they hadn’t I would have just had to run faster on the day.
What keeps you coming back?
I’ve always been relatively active since I started martial arts as a kid, but like many, I had nothing specific to train ‘for’ so my fitness and motivation fluctuated. Tough Mudder has given me a deeper motivation and reason to train and something to train ‘for’. However, I’ll happily confess it’s the camaraderie and Mudder community that keeps me coming back. It may sound cheesy, but I think we Mudders enjoy the bonding and human contact (and no I don’t mean an improper touch – however that’s not always so bad), even if only for a moment as a stranger reaches out a hand. To me, each event is a reminder that real connections aren’t found via wifi and screens.
I camp at each event and the fun starts the second you turn up. There is usually a great buzz around the campsite and I’m generally surrounded by a group of boys and girls that spend the whole time ripping the hell out of each other and bantering, and yet you know that each of them will be there if/when you need help or encouragement. Even if they do spend the next month reminding you of an unfortunate face-plant. It’s that bond and friendship that I personally love and it goes beyond the events.
Before I started my 50th event so many Mudders made a point to pat me on the back, shake my hand, give me a hug, high five me, slap my butt, or ask for a ‘selfie’ with me (weird) and a few even kissed my bald head (presumably for luck?), it was a tad overwhelming but of course appreciated. This (to me) is actually what Tough Mudder is about, it’s hard to put into words and ‘camaraderie’, the word that is a foundation of Tough Mudder, just doesn’t seem to explain well enough when people ask us all; “What keeps you coming back?”
What is next for you in your Mudder journey?
I honestly know that I NEVER would have made it this far without many muddy helping hands and encouragement or support from the community of Mudders that get out there when this muddy carnival is in town. I have plans to attack WTM this year but for Tough Mudder, I shall just keep on banging out the miles and events because every event brings something new. New challenges. New scars. New tears. New inspiration. New stories and new Mudders to run with, each with their own story and each with their own challenges.
We all know it isn’t a race and the important thing about Tough Mudder is the challenge. And that challenge is personal to you. If you can’t run as far or as fast as others or if you need to walk around something, so what? But that doesn’t mean cheat yourself or cut corners, just make the commitment to be the best YOU can be on the day. Run, walk, crawl or be carried but unless you’re injured, finish. It’ll be worth it. Get that headband and wear the t-shirt because YOU earned them.Thanks Chris, we’ll see you in the mud next year.