Mudder F-er (Or That Time I Ran A 5K Tough Mudder While Shockingly Unprepared)

Questionable advertising on that faux tattoo there

I am not a runner. I’ve tried to be, from time to time: When I briefly lived in Malibu back in my early twenties, I decided to try running on the beach in the mornings because it seemed like the kind of thing that one does when one lives in Malibu, only to have my knobby little offset kneecaps swell to the size of tennis balls. More recently, I adopted a golden retriever puppy under the misguided belief that ownership of said puppy would automatically transform me into the kind of person who does things like…run. Spoiler: It did not, although it did transform me into the kind of person who needs to vacuum her house several times a day.

The first time I did a mud run – essentially an untimed race that includes massive mud pits and obstacles and various forms of water torture – it was because someone paid me to do it. St. Ives hired me to participate on their behalf and write about the experience, and I did so with massive reluctance, only to discover that it was actually really fun (!). The event was called “Mudderella,” and it was a women-only thing that was much more about teamwork and positivity than anything else – the women went at their own pace, cheered each other on, and wore funny costumes and bright headbands. And at the end you get a free beer!

That is my kind of exercise.

When another Mudderella popped up in SoCal a couple of years ago, I swindled my friend Margo into going, and once again: Fun was had. Sure, you’re sore the next day, but it’s totally the kind of thing that you can do if you have even Jordan-level athletic ability (which is moderate at best).

mudderella review

Look at all those supportive women!

Which brings me to yesterday. You may be aware that I haven’t really done anything at all in approximately two years, based on the fact that my blog content has mostly been about soup. That’s okay; we’re all in hibernation mode. But I’ve also been noticing that I may be a little depressed, if that’s what all the napping and avoiding-of-friends is about, and so when an email from what I assumed was Mudderella’s parent company, Tough Mudder, popped up in my inbox I immediately forwarded it to five friends, four of whom replied with various iterations of “Are you fucking insane?” One of these friends, though, had never heard of a mud run and agreed to try it, and so: Tough Mudder, here we came.

Did I train? Obviously not. Did I give the website more than a cursory glance before buying my ticket? Please. Did I wake up one hour before I had to leave on the day of the race, having imbibed tequila the night prior and not having given a whit of thought to things like “what to wear” and “what to bring”? Correct!

It was just as I was poking around in the back of my drawer for my sad old sports bra that I received a call from my fellow participant, Ariel, who had only just really looked at the website herself.

“Jordan,” she said. “Did you watch the fucking video?”

Soooo it turns out that Tough Mudder is not just Mudderella with the addition of some boys, as I had imagined. Oh, hell no. The very first shot on the “Obstacles” page features a description of something called an “Arctic Enema” (this is a true story) accompanied by a shot of a screaming bald man with face tattoos with whom I very, very, very much do not want to do anything at all, least of all get an Arctic Enema.

Oh, and this is fun!


…What? …Why? …How on God’s green earth does a company decide that climbing through a jungle of live wires is a reasonable or desirable way to spend a Sunday morning? These are the big questions, my friends.

Anyway, I went. Of course we were approximately an hour late, which meant that by the time we arrived the last batch of racers were well into the course, and which also meant that our experience started off with an ATV ride to get us caught up. This ATV was driven by an extremely cute young man with a bun who was definitely flirting with us, which would have been wonderful except he was about twenty-five, which meant that his method of “flirting” was “take corners so fast that the middle-aged moms in the backseat think they are going to die.” (I legitimately thought I might die.)

The other interesting thing about being very, very late to one of these events is that you actually can’t do a lot of it if there aren’t people around to help you. I learned this from the volunteer working the bag check, who reminded us that we were very, very late and wished us good luck, and when I said “thank you” gave me a serious look (did I detect a hint of pity?) and said, “No…really. Good luck.”

The first obstacle was easy enough, albeit one that I thought would possibly bring my friendship with Ariel to an end, because it was basically belly-sliding through thirty feet of cold mud under an awning of barbed wire, and Ariel was not pleased with me (“What in the actual fuck did you make me do?”). Within ten minutes or so, though, we’d caught up to a big group of people (sorry: men. Very large men), which was good, because next up was an obstacle where you had to climb up a very high wall with a rope, and there had to be someone at the top to haul you over the lip. I got up there first, and turned to help Ariel before realizing that I should oh my god not be responsible for using my body weight to dead-lift an actual person dangling from a potentially life-threatening height (she agreed: at the top, I held out my hand to her and she gasped “I DON’T TRUST YOU” before reaching for the dude next to me).

tough mudder 2022

I know all of this sounds awful. It sort of was. But I also haven’t laughed that hard in months (years?), and I have to tell you: Having a bunch of guys yell “Whoa, look at her go!” while scaling a 3-story-tall rope ladder made my middle-aged mom heart swell. I have to say that I preferred Mudderella because of the gender dynamics: Tough Mudder was super bro-y and populated largely by the aforementioned Very Large Men and the occasional Very Fit Girlfriend, and I didn’t love having to rely on strange men to boost me up onto platforms that I legitimately wasn’t tall enough to access on my own. But I also did it. I’m not sure I would have done it if I had known what I was getting into. But I did it. And never, ever has a beer (and, okay, also a shot of whiskey) at noon tasted quite so good.

P.S. About that electroshock, which is, as advertised, FUCKING ELECTROSHOCK? 10/10 Do Not Recommend.

P.P.S. Obviously I’m already signed up for the one in April.

tough mudder 2022

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