So we had finished the death march and soon after another obstacle came into view. The Arctic Enema. Now the Arctic Enema may not seem all that intimidating if you were to simply see someone else go through it, but it was actually one of the scariest obstacles for me.
The idea is pretty simple, it is a large construction dumpster with a wall half-way across that forces you to submerge completely and swim under it. Nothing too crazy right? And it wouldn’t have been if they hadn’t been dumping forklift loads full of ice into the other end. So the icy water hit you immediately as you jumped in at the start, but that wasn’t so bad after the initial shock. The scary part came as you approached and submerged to go under the wall. I expected to just be submerged for a second or two and to pop up into open water on the other side.
When I went to try and re-surface however, I encountered resistance. This was really scary because I didn’t want to push up really hard only to find a solid surface that could cause injury, or even maybe knock me unconscious. So I went a little farther, in case it was still the wall I was encountering, but still there was the resistance when I tried to surface. This was when it started to get really scary, not only was I running out of air, but that cold water was really starting to kick in, and I could feel my motor-skills getting sluggish.
So I decided just to push up hard and take my chances. It turned out that the resistance I was hitting was about 6 inches of ice. They had put so much ice into the other side of the dumpster that it was actually making a barrier, not just on the surface, but a mountain on the other end that would have been impossible to navigate without help from others. Fortunately for me, there were people on the other end that were grabbing peoples arms and dragging them out. If it weren’t for that assistance, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it out on my own.
Then once I was out, I ended up getting into a group hug with total strangers because we were all so cold we needed to share our body heat to warm back up again. It was a pretty surreal experience, and definitely showcased the embodiment of teamwork.
That’s another thing that I love about this organization is the pledge that every Mudder must make prior to participating in a TM event:
This is part of what makes the Tough Mudder such an amazing event to participate in. And it absolutely saved me in a few of the obstacles, most specifically on Everest, the next event after the Arctic Enema.
The idea behind Everest is:
The reality on race day was this:
A huge bottleneck had sprung up drastically changing the approach to this obstacle. Instead of Mudders sprinting to and up the half pipe before grabbing onto their teammates, there was a huge mob at the bottom that prevented any kind of running approach. Instead several human ladders formed. We had our two tallest team members (6’3″ and 6’5″) and with one standing on the other’s shoulders I was able to climb up onto the second guy’s shoulders and just barely reach my teammates arms at the top.
From there most Mudders are able to pull themselves up using their amazing upper body strength, I however did not have any amazing upper body strength to rely on, so I took the approach of swinging one of my legs up where another team member was able to grab it. Without the help of my teammates at the bottom and the top, this obstacle would have been completely impossible for all but the most agile and athletic Mudders to complete, but instead, it fostered an incredible sense of community and camaraderie.
This is the obstacle that still resonates most clearly to me today, almost 3 years later.
To be continued again…
What are your thoughts on these obstacles? Post a comment! 🙂