About six weeks ago I was driving home from an event weekend that left me more than a little worried about not only the season to come but my continued commitment to Tough Mudder. I proceeded to write down my feelings and worries and how I intended to make the events I already committed to as enjoyable as possible. That can be found here.
Little did I know that I would not need to do those things because it seems to me that TMHQ really took the community’s complaints and concerns into account when planning the Central Texas event. It should be said that they did tell the Ambassadors that they had changes planned to be implemented at Central Texas and others that would be in place in Philly.
There were a few things that I wasn’t happy about and I intend to mention those, but first I want to talk about the highs of Central Texas for me.
1) I absolutely loved the use of the creeks over just having us traverse through a field. It should be said that I’m from the country and there are numerous pictures of me during my childhood with my pants rolled up while playing in the mud.
That might have been the first clue that I would fall in love with Tough Mudder…
2) The return of the obstacles being how they’ve been in the past or just obstacles I was happy about. I was elated to see water under Funky Monkey (so I could attempt to cross with without fear of injury), some ‘cages’ to pass under at Arctic Enema (but why no slide?), Ladder to Hell and that gooooood stretch, and Cage Crawl and that temporary fear of drowning.
3) The trails. I really enjoyed them because they were cooler than the open fields of the course. They were also a lot of fun when jogging/running.
4) The loop system on this course didn’t have runners repeating as much of the same trail on the second lap. There were a fair amount of places that the course split and it kept it from being TOO repetitive.
Things that I was a little less excited about:
1) Water station location. There was a LONG distance between water stations on Saturday’s course. But I will say that I did read that the issue was corrected for Toughest and the Sunday event.
2) Lack of mileage signs. This is SUCH a small thing but really makes a difference when you’re trying to estimate ANYTHING regarding how much longer you have on course, to the next obstacle, to the next water station, or just a sense to time in general.
3) I had a love/hate relationship with the trails. I liked them for the reasons listed above, but they also really sucked when it came to passing or being passed. The narrow trails lead to people having to step into the bushes often and I KNOW I saw poison ivy at one point.
And I’m sure this will never likely happen, but can we get a reminder of RUNNERS TO THE LEFT AND WALKERS TO THE RIGHT?? Also, what’s the etiquette on passing in tight spaces? Do you call ahead or do you just practically run into the person’s back and then huff and puff when they don’t jump out of your way into the brush?
Things of note:
1) I know that at some point the headband tent was left without a volunteer. Some friends finished about an hour before me and said that there was a volunteer there then but by the time I got there, there wasn’t. And there were people who joked that they were going to take a 25X and 50X headband.
2) There didn’t seem to be nearly enough volunteers. It was a little disheartening. Also, since when do volunteers not want muddy hugs?!
3) The check-in process is still messy. Do the volunteers just get overwhelmed quickly or just not given enough information? First, I wasn’t handed a finisher beer band or legionnaire band before the fella checking me in moved on to the next person. He just handed me the baggie and told me I was good to go. Also, and this is partly on me, I didn’t realize that there were bands with chips that we were supposed to wear. I just stuck the sticker on me and moved on with my life.
4) Has ANYONE ever done Turducken how they describe in on the TM website? Because it’s been at about half of the events I’ve completed and hasn’t been the same at any of them…
5) I failed Everest, and walked around, after 5 attempts. On my failure of a second attempt, I smacked my head onto the plastic and have a pretty good bruise and knot on my cheek.
Overall, I was so much happier at the end of this course than I was in NOLA. I can’t get over the night and day difference between the two events. I would go back out to Central Texas every year for an event as enjoyable as this one.