“If you’re running and you get hit by one of the wires, it’s enough to drop you.”
There aren’t many sporting events, at least in North America, that involve competitors dodging live electrical wires. This, however, isn’t your run-of-the mill marathon.
The Tough Mudder race series has been described as ‘insane’ and ‘cruel’ by those who have taken part. Designed by British Special Forces, the race is a 12 mile marathon intermixed with a random rotation of challenging and truly bizarre obstacles.
Justin Eggins knows first hand what it takes to compete in a Tough Mudder race. Raised in Coronation, the 30-year-old paramedic took part in his first Tough Mudder competition in Seattle in late September. His finish time was solid enough to qualify for the World’s Toughest Mudder, the season ending grand finale of the series on Saturday, November 17 in New Jersey, finishing in the top 30 per cent of 1098 competitors.
Indeed, just being among those few to actually finish the race is an accomplishment. The World’s Toughest Mudder is a grueling 24 hour race consisting of an alternating series of 10 mile running courses separated by 20 obstacles. Aside from the aforementioned dangling 10,000 volt wires, the obstacles include crawling in mud underneath barbed wire, diving to the bottom of an icy tank of water, crawling through long, dark pipes half submerged in muddy water, and other challenges designed to test competitors both physically and mentally.
“At the time when I was doing the race, I thought it was stupid and dumb,” laughed Eggins. “Now that it’s done, I want to do it again. At the time you’re tired, hungry, cold and hurting… You’re upset and angry.”
Training for this race was unlike many other events. In order to successfully survive both the running and the obstacle courses, Justin concentrated on training both his upper and lower body by combining running with weight training.
“It’s in a class by itself,” said Eggins. “If you’re a good runner, you’ll do good — but you still need a lot of upper body strength.”
Grueling races are nothing new to Eggins, who has competed in both the Death Race in Grande Cache and the Sinister 7 Ultra Relay in Crowsnest Pass.
Competing in a race such as the Tough Mudder brings out a quality in the competitors you don’t normally see in races: teamwork. Competitors share a strange camaraderie with their fellow racers that is unique, quite possibly due to the insane demands the race asks of those who sign up. Competitors will often stop and help someone stuck in the mud or is having trouble clearing an obstacle.
“No one wants to see your fellow man fail,” Eggins said. “You’re there to help.”