Most Mudders have their favorite obstacle—maybe it’s Arctic Enema, because nothing wakes you up and refreshes your muscles like brain-numbing water. Or perhaps it’s Funky Monkey 2.0, since there’s nothing that motivates you to work on your dead hangs quite as much. Some Mudders might even like Everest 2.0 for the team-work it brings out, or Electroshock Therapy because, well, nothing says dedication like running through live wires.
Like all Mudders, even OCR elites have their favorite obstacles. In honor of the 2018 Obstacle Unveil happening on January 11th, we asked five of the best to describe the obstacles that stand out to them—for reasons both memorable and reasons they might rather forget.
1. Allison Tai
2nd place at World’s Toughest Mudder 2017
Favorite Obstacle: King of Swingers-Hang Time. “Because it’s fun…and because it scares the pants off me.”
Best Memory: “On my last lap at [Tough Mudder] Chicago, I counted myself down 3, 2, 1…and then hesitated. The volunteer was like, “Haven’t you done this, like, 10 times already?” Sadly, I couldn’t even count how many times I’d done it over the season and it still scared me every time.”
Tips: If you haven’t heard of or tried this Toughest Mudder exlusive obstacle, here’s how it works: Mudders must hang on and swing out to the end of the King of Swingers pendulum, then launch themselves at the end of the swing and pray they can reach a hanging net that’s a few feet away. If you manage to grab the net and avoid falling in the water, ths only tip is to keep on hanging on while the net slowly lowers you to the ground.
2. Kayla Kobelin
4th place at Toughest Mudder West 2017
Favorite Obstacle: King of Swingers
Best Memory: “On my last lap I completed it, slid down the rope and started crying. I was so cold and wanted to stop, but someone told me to keep going because I was in the top 5. I wanted nothing more than to get off that course. But, I knew that since I had just completed the hardest obstacle, I could finish the race!”
Tips: “Break it down one step at at time. People can get overwhelmed with everything they have to do. Just focus on the jump first, then put all your focus onto hanging on. Next up, grab the rope and slide down. It makes it way easier!”
3. Stefanie Bishop
1st place at World’s Toughest Mudder 2016
Favorite Obstacle: Blockness Monster. “It encompasses the Tough Mudder values and there is always great energy there.”
Best Memory: “At WTM this year, after I was unable to continue competing due to injury, I went out on a lap with Coach, Matty Gregg, Tyson (Superman), and his wonderful team (Team Go Hard.) It was fascinating seeing everybody working together to get through the whole course. When we arrived at Blockness, it was so fluid. I remember completing the obstacle and turning to Matty Gregg in a state of awe. I’ve never gone through it with that many people that quickly.”
Tips: “Communication is key. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get through this obstacle when you work together. Get it moving and be vocal regarding who is going over. When it’s your turn, don’t just slide into the water and continue on. Turn around while the block is flat and grab on behind you to help keep the momentum. Don’t leave any Mudder behind!”
4. Chad Trammell
1st place World’s Toughest Mudder 2015
Favorite Obstacle: Tramp Stamp (a.k.a. Flying Squirrel)
Best Memory: “I first encountered it at WTM 2015 and failed on my first attempt, then started to panic, assuming I’d doing the penalty every lap from then on. Because of that fear, each time I successfully grabbed the handles and hit the dismount, I got a huge adrenaline rush!”
Tips: Never heard of or gotten a chance to try Tramp Stamp? Here’s a quick TM history lesson. This obstacle was introducted at WTM 2015 and then re-leased under the name “Flying Squirrel” as a Tough Mudder Half exclusive obsacle. After making a short jump onto a mini-trampoline you need to grab the suspended bar (a bit like King Of The Swingers). Once you’ve grabbed the bar all you do is hang on and you’ll slide across the water below to the end of the obstacle. This baby comes down to grip strength and guts. Guts, you’ve either got them or you don’t. But you can train your grip strength with these exercises.
5. Trevor Cichosz
1st place World’s Toughest Mudder 2016
Favorite Obstacle: King of Swingers.
Best Memory: “When King of Swingers was first released in 2014, I thought you had to kick the bell. I kicked it and went into a backflip, hoping to land feet first. I belly flopped instead.”
Tips: Look at where your hands will go as you leap off the platform. Swing the full distance and don’t reach out for the bell until you feel the pendulum come to a stop. Also, don’t wear gloves. Gloves make all the obstacles tougher.