Tough Mudder has revised a number of their standard obstacles and has introduced new ones which are very challenging and somewhat more difficult to train for. There is a greater emphasis on teamwork now as many of these new obstacles are simply not achievable without working together.
An analysis of the obstacles that have been used in Tough Mudder events over the last couple of months show that the following are highly likely to be used in the 2015 Chicago event.
I have divided these into Muddy, Heavy, Hard, Creepy, and Crawly obstacles:
While everything in Tough Mudder is muddy, some obstacles are all about getting into as much mud as possible.
Kiss of Mud 2.0
Last year this was the first obstacle on the course. No teamwork needed here; you basically do a belly crawl in the mud under a bunch of barbed wire. Not particularly tough but pretty disgusting. This year is a bit more challenging in that, instead of being a flat course, you now have to drop down into mucky trenches and crawl over messy bales of hay. AWESOME!
Mud Mile 2.0
The Mud Mile got some lovin’ this year also. It was one of the easier obstacles last year so I guess that’s why they amped it up. Now it has waist-deep mud pits, double-high entrance and exit mounds, and completely vertical mud masses. No video as yet so enjoy this snapshot from the Mud Mile 2.0.
This obstacle is wet and muddy and, above all, slippery. Not particularly strenuous, just pretty easy to fall down take a mouthful of soil beverage. This video from last year’s Chicago event shows what it is like:
Heavy obstacles are the ones which require the team to carry heavy and unwieldy objects like Durf.
Hold Your Wood 2.0
This obstacle used to require a team to carry a large log or for each team member to carry a smaller log. The new version of this event is always a team log and now they make you carry the large log over several walls. A log requires at least 4 people to carry. Well, I could carry it with one arm but I don’t want anyone to feel left out.
This appears to be the same as last year. You carry a partner over your shoulders for awhile and then switch. In the case of mammoth figures like Randy, we go in a group of three with two people carrying the giant.
This was a new obstacle for last year and appears unchanged. It’s basically like doing dips while walking on your hands. The video shows it better than I can describe:
These obstacles are where Tough Mudder earns the “tough” part of its name. Not one of these obstacles can be considered easy and many mudders do not complete them. They require arm, core, and grip strength. Teamwork is a requirement for some of these obstacles so these are often opportunities to rest after getting to the “top” and helping out other teams and individuals who are struggling.
Another new obstacle for 2015, the Beached Whale is simply a giant inflated tube, probably 8 feet in height. To me this looks like a warmup for the more difficult walls ahead; at least I wouldn’t expect too many bruises running into a balloon.
Another difficult wall obstacle, this one has a 10’ slanted wall that you have to get over. The first part is just jumping high enough to get a grip at the top of the wall. Given all of the muddy and wet Mudders, the grippable edge is likely to be wet and slippery. Then, one way or another, you need to get over that wall. Lots of opportunities to bruise shins and arms here. Teamwork is a major benefit on this one.
This was the hardest obstacle last year for our team, in my view, and they made it considerably harder for this year. The height of the wall has been increased by another foot and they added a bloody stream of water down the face. Previously, if you were fast enough and could jump high enough, you could maybe do this obstacle without much help. The waterfall does not seem to be consistently present so we may or may not have that added challenge.
Balls to the Wall
This is a pretty straightforward rope-climb. One big wall and a rope to climb up and one to climb back down on. Here is the wall in Chicago last year:
This one is going to be a bitch. It’s basically a vertical peg board wall with 6 holes. I don’t see a lot of room for teamwork in this one so everyone will have to master this one solo. On some versions of this, I’ve seen small rock climbing “holds” to put your feet on. In other versions, no holds. In any case, the holds are like bottle cap size so they don’t help much. This one is all upper body strength. For those women on the team, it’s just like the bent-arm hang in the old Presidential Fitness challenge we all did in junior high, except with one arm at a time. Oorah!
Inspired by American Ninja Warrior, this is basically a revision of the Funky Monkey using rings and pegs instead of ladders. Like The Liberator obstacle, this one is a test of upper body strength and coordination, and does not benefit from teamwork, other than screaming encouragement! At least when you fall off, it is into sand and not freezing water.
Funky Monkey 2.0
Funky Monkey was my favorite obstacle last year. It’s for this obstacle that I did all of that training on playground monkey bars. It used to be one ladder up and one ladder down. Now it is one ladder up, a trapeze-looking transition, and a stair rail down. Needs a bit more daring and different grips.
This is sort of a catch-all category of obstacles which are just uncomfortable in some way, either cold, painful, or challenging if you have a fear of heights.
Arctic Enema 2.0
This obstacle has been redesigned after some people - not naming names - used to unsafely jump into the tub and bash their heads on the wall. So instead of jumping into ice water, going under the wall, and then getting out, you now go down a slide into the ice water, climb over the wall, and then get out.
Electroshock Therapy 2.0
For whatever reason, Tough Mudder decided to amp up the difficulty of this obstacle, literally. There is now a color-coded zone of higher voltage suffering.
King of the Swingers
This obstacle is new this year and I hope it replaces the one where you jump off of the high platform and into the water. Instead, you start on a similar high platform and swing out on a hanging bar and then leap out trying to tag a bell suspended in the air before crashing into the water below:
Prairie Dog was in last year’s Chicago Tough Mudder. It’s basically crawling through a big black pipe. If you are claustrophobic in any way, this might bother you. I’m a big dude and I was wearing a backpack and made it through in comfort. One of the easiest obstacles on the course:
Birth Canal looks to be a major suck. It’s certainly not friendly to a dude with a bit extra around the tumtum. Essentially this funness is a stomach crawl with a heavy water demon on your back.
Military operators with tear gas experience can advise on how best to get through this one. Cry Baby is crawlspace of an obstacle that is full of gas and smoke that will make even Durf tear up. Inside the obstacle are small impediments that need to be climbed over or under.
This one would be new for Chicago also. The obstacle consists of a long course with a giant net over it. Mudders have to get from one end of the course to the other end under the net. It is basically a forced bear crawl. Guaranteed back ache in the morning from this one.