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Mud Runners & Obstacle races on the IOM

The GFoGE guide to obstacle races & why should you do one.

By D Thomas

Day after day I sit at my desk, typing away on a keyboard and staring at a screen. At weekends, however, it is a different story. I crawl through concrete tunnels. I get hit by electric wires. I climb over giant wooden frames strung with ropes. I get cold, wet, muddy and exhausted. And I go back for more.

This is not only my story, it is the story of a growing mud runner & obstacle racings on the Isle of Man following the success of the Tough Man Adventure Challenge 2013, the first race of its kind on the Island.

What is an obstacle race/mud run?

Imagine the cross country runs you did at school. But on steroids. And fun. And with beer and medals at the end if you finish. And sometime with gigantic climbing frames in the middle. So not really a lot like a high school cross country run.

The courses vary in length, complexity and difficulty depending on where you go.

A mid-distance race, Tough Mann is 10km long and a non-permanent location so uses the countryside heavily, and obstacles such as 12 foot walls and tyre tunnels.

Events at the toughest end of the spectrum are like Tough Guy 2014 with 40 foot high wooden and rope structures, electric wires that shock you as you run through, underground tunnels in pitch darkness. Which also have electric wires to shock you as you crawl through them. Not forgetting the freezing cold water that you regularly plunge into.

Whatever the specifics are, all of them involve running through mud and climbing over, crawling under or scrambling though various obstacles.

Who does these things?

Anyone. Literally anyone. I've met professional triathletes in their teens who wanted something different for a workout and I've met crossfitters in their forties who hate running but wanted to prove themselves.

I've seen army trainees who have been told they should give it a go to toughen them up that wear their army issue uniform and I've spoken to teams of women on hen parties in full fancy dress who ran entire events together, starting and finishing as a team.

Then there are people like me, who just tried one for something different to do and became addicted.

Why would you do these things? Seriously, are you wrong in the head?

Out on the course you do wonder that.

When that electric shock hits and you fall to the ground. When you are 20 feet above an ice cold lake, dangling off a rope, drenched, freezing and barely able to hang on.

I am mad. I don't belong here. I can't do this. That bloke who I know who said I was an idiot and I should never try was right. All those thoughts go through your head.

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And then you hit the finish line, get your medal and realise you have achieved something. Something other people don't do. Most wouldn't even try. Every bad memory fades away to be replaced by elation. A sense of success for doing something so out of the ordinary and a hunger to do it again. Once you have got rid of the hypothermia it does anyway.

How can I get involved & give it a go?

Tough Mann 2014 is happening this year, promising more mud, more sweat and more beers if you want an event close to home.

If you fancy something a bit further away Spartan Conditioning are putting a team together for a UK Tough Mudder later in the year and of course the infamous Tough Guy 2015  in January next year.