Man…that sucked…that was awesome…that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…that was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Pretty much sums up the feelings of each of the HIMs I was fortunate enough to experience the Tough Mudder with. Speaking of those HIMs. I personally couldn’t have had a better team. Some of my best friends for over 30 years (Backdraft, Meatball), guys I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last year or so (Tureen, Digiorno, Buschhhh), and a couple of guys that I’ve just gotten to know over the last couple of months or even weeks that I now consider brothers (Snowman, Cutlass, Duplo, Gypsy). The three “F”s of F3 were all in effect yesterday as we put our bodies and minds through the physical and mental gauntlet of this 10+ mile course. The following are just some of the highlights/lowlights of the day.
The plan was to all meet at 06:00 at Panera parking lot. We’d then load up clown car style in two cars, 5 pax per, to KY Motor Speedway. When Backdraft and I rolled in at 06:03 we got a lot of smartass “looking at the wrist” motions and a few “about f@#$ing time!” jeers from the other 8 pax. It’s all good. We deserved it and besides, it just showed how excited they were to get there and dominate this event. So we parked, jumped out and everyone quickly threw the rest of their gear into Backdrafts buggy and we climbed in. As we did, I yelled to the other car that we had room for one more as we only had four. They replied they were good, so let’s hit the road Jack!
Peeled out of the parking lot, turned on to Brownsboro Rd and out of the corner of his eye Backdraft sees something strange. A frantic man running across the parking lot waiving his one free hand while trying not to spill his coffee in the other. “Hey is that Tureen?!” Yes. Yes it was Tureen. He had apparently run into Panera to grab a cup of Joe for the road and we had all just assumed he was in the other car. A quick not-so-legal u-turn across the raised median and we were back in the parking lot to literally pick up the six. Needless to say we had fun with this for the rest of the day. Note for future F3 road trips, do a count-o-rama before loading into the cars.
Now that we’re all accounted for…
Pax: Backdraft, Buschhhhh, Cutlass, Digiorno, Duplo, Geppetto, Gypsy, Meatball, Snowman…Tureen
ZooGear: Lot of black F3 jerseys, couple blue. Wanted to represent F3 Louisville and I think we did!
We roll into the Speedway where we come up on our first obstacle of the day. Clueless Parking Attendant Guy. We had paid an additional $10 to get a premium parking pass. This was supposedly indicated in a QR code thing that was sent in an email. Handed him our QR ticket and he proceeded to stare at it for a minute. Since this guy didn’t have a QR reader in his left eye like a cyborg or something he wasn’t about to let us (Backdrafts car) into the VIP parking that we so obviously deserved. We alerted this genius that the car behind us, Gypsy’s car, would likely have the same problem so he better let them know too. As he walked to them, we debated on just flooring it through his little roadblock and seeing what happened. I mean we were already driving like Burt Reynolds from our Panera experience. But in just a matter of seconds, apparently Gypsy had done some kind of Jedi mind trick and the attendant returned and said “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for” or something to that effect and we were off to VIP parking.
We pull into the parking lot. Plant two F3 flags and we’re off to check in. Still have a little time to kill so a couple of guys hit the port-o-pot, a few last minute hydrations, Bushhhhh takes us over to the Guiness tent to give us a tour. Enough shenanigans, it’s go time.
Pre Race COT: Digiorno leads us in some pre-race words of encouragement, and a prayer for Buschhhh, his family and sweet nephew. We also put on our red bracelets to honor our F3 brother, Pope, who was apparently already kicking ass and taking names back home at the O.
This backblast is already longer than anything I’ve ever typed, including college term papers, and we haven’t even started the event. In fact I think we could have run it in the time it’s taken you to read this far…but I digress.
Tough Mudder: I won’t go over each obstacle, even though each has a story to be told I’m sure. Here are some highlights. The course was run in two five mile loops, with the second loop adding a few different obstacles.
LOOP ONE: Miles 1-5
Devils Beard: Bear crawl under approx. 30 yds of cargo net. Not too tough. Not too easy.
Hero Carry: (Yoda carry in F3) Of course YHC gets to yoda Cutlass. And Cutlass is saying of course I have to yoda Geppetto. 100 yards then swap. Muddy as shit. On a slight incline/decline.
Kiss of Mud: Army crawl in 12″ of water under barbwire about 6″ over the water.
Lumberjacked: Hurdle over two logs about 4′ in the air. Better get up or the boys get some splinters.
Mud Mile: Words won’t do justice. Big mound of mud, maybe 8′ tall. Waste deep water. Climb up and over. About 9 or ten mounds. Woof.
Pitfall: Walk through murky ankle deep water…until it’s not. Unforeseen drops in the water to waste deep.
Everest: Run up a warped wall a la American Ninja Warrior. Only this one is muddy as hell. Object is to have a partner/partners at the top grab your hands and catch you as you lunge for the top. Then pull you up. Several of us made it. A couple of us didn’t. All gave all they had.
Berlin Walls: Pull up and over 10′ walls. Took AYG plus a little help from a partner at the top.
Blockness Monster: Jump into waste deep pool of mud water and climb over two revolving blocks that required the whole team to move. This one was actually somewhat refreshing I thought. Or maybe that’s just because I was letting Cutlass do all the work…
Killa Gorilla: Up, down, up again a giant hill. Just what you felt like doing with soggy shoes and calves that were starting to burn.
Skidmarked: Similar to Berlin Walls above only worse since walls were slanted forward.
Hold Your Wood: That’s what she said. 100 yard big ass log carry. Can partner up (ie Geppetto and Tureen) or go solo (everyone else).
Six Feet Under: Huge mud pit with waste deep water. Jump in and work like hell to get back out. Just like the Jefferson’s, “took a whole lot of tryin’ just to get up that hill”.
End of 5 mile loop. Remember all of the above was split approximately 1/2 mile apart through muddy hills, choppy ground, that you were constantly looking for gopher hole or rut to roll an ankle in. Good times. Buschhhh and Duplo were setting the pace. Geppetto, Snowman, and Meatball took turns at the six. We all kept each other in site and the group stuck together holding plank a few times until we all caught up. Because that’s what we do in F3.
LOOP TWO: Miles 6-10
Loop two is where we all really started to feel the pain. At least half of us at this point were seriously starting to dehydrate. Calves were knotting up like a bag of pretzels. Several repeats of the above, plus the following.
Ladder to Hell: 15′ High ladder. Only three rungs. Up and over.
This was probably somewhere between miles 7-8. Snowman cramped up and was down. He tried to like hell but was done. Tclaps to Digiorno for helping him up and getting him to at least be able to limp to the nearest water station. Like a scene from Platoon, Snowman insisted we go on without him. We all refused. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. With a tear in our eye we left our fallen brother behind. (Snowman was also a participant in the 13 mile ruck just a week earlier. Dude is a badass but obviously a poor scheduler of body beatdowns. Little more recovery time my man.) We were barely 100 yards from Snowman’s corpse when Duplo, Geppetto, and Cutlass all felt the first hot poker into our calves. Gypsy was soon to follow. Meatball soon after that.
Funky Monkey: Inclined monkey bars for about 15 rungs. Transition to a rolling horizontal wheel, then to a vertical wheel. Digiorno, Buschhhh, Gypsy, and Duplo made it look easy. Several others got really close. I tried it. About all I can say.
Kong Infinity: Holy shit. Big barrel with rings over to monkey bars. I fell off and have no idea how anyone else in the group did. For the record, let’s just say everyoyne else made it easily.
Shawshanked: Army crawl under barbwire in a 12″ pool of water. Then climb into 24″ diameter pipe and crawl to the other end. Doesn’t sound too bad. But that pipe was smooth inside and on an upward incline. Had to lay on your back and pull yourself to the other end using a rope about 25′. Then drop out the other end about 6 ft into muddy water.
Quagmire: Jump into 10′ mud crater waste deep water. Climb out. This is where Cutlass almost went the way of Snowman. As he began to push off using his legs to climb out, a sniper took him out…right in the calf. As the old man volunteer heckled him from atop about how he should have hydrated better, Cutlass did all he could to keep his head above water. A few minutes later he was out and we were back on track…
Pond swim: Technically not an obstacle, our path led us straight through a pond in the track parking lot area. As we doggie paddled over to the other side, something about climbing out of the muck onto the land on the other side simultaneously took out Meatball, Cutlass, and Geppetto at the same time. We probably looked like three beached whales all writhing in pain as our calves knotted up for what seemed like the thousandth time.
Just the Tip: Grip challenge. Try to hang from a ledge and hand over hand to the other side. Yeah right.
Electroshock Therapy: Dangling wires randomly pulsing with electricity hang over a 12″ pool of water. What could go wrong? Have the option to army crawl under them and hope your ass doesn’t stick up too far and touch one, or just say WTF and run through it as fast as you can. Duplo, a Tough Mudder veteran, gave us a little story of the last time he did this one. He took the army crawl route only to get tagged in the back of the head. A few seconds later he woke up. His face lying in a pool of mud and drool. Fun stuff, and we paid to do this. This is the one thing I felt I could do though. I knew I had no chance at the upperbody hanging stuff. But taking a taser, shiiiiiiit. I got this. Several of the pax took the army crawl approach. No shame in that. I just knew my big ass was going to get hit either way. Might as well bust through it. On the count of three…one, two, threeeeeee. Ran through it all I got. Five feet from the end I got the sniper to the calf but as fell forward to the other end I realized I never got zapped. Meatball seeing my success figured why not. He did the same. ZAP!! “Mother Fu” ZAP!! Got hit twice. Guess he got one of mine. Backdraft took a ZAP as well. Don’t ask either of them about why the left side of their faces is drooping. They are self conscious.
Arctic Enema: Big plastic lined dumpster full of ice water. Like serious ice water. More ice than water. Jump in and get to the other end, approximately 30′. Only there are two barriers along the way that you have to swim under. We were almost 10 miles in at this point. We had run out of sweat. An ice bath actually sounded kinda good. First dip into the pool I wasn’t too impressed. What’s all the fuss. I figured I’d just go under swim about 15′ and come up on the other side of the second barricade. Deep breath and under. HOLY SH$T F@%K! Just on the other side of barrier one I came up gasping for air. Instant brain freeze. Get me the hell out of here! Down again, I forgot to take a deep breath this time. Swallowed about of gallon of muddy ice and exploded out on the other side. Disoriented and confused. WTF. And we paid for this…
Happy Ending: Final obstacle of the day. 30′ long sloped slippery wall. Actually the easiest thing we did all day. Once we were all at the top, we lined up as a team and slid down the other side into a pool of water ten strong (Snowman was there in spirit.).
As soon as we crossed the finish line we were not only greeted by a reincarnated Snowman, but the Seal Team Six version of F3 was there as well to embrace us. Pretty freaking cool. I’m pretty sure I’m just typing this for my own amusement at this point, but if you’re actually still reading this, this is what F3 is all about. As I stated waaaay back in the beginning, I couldn’t have hand picked a better group to do this with. We will be laughing about leaving Tureen for years.
Count-o-rama. Ten strong!! Name-o-rama. Again prayers were said for Buschhhhh. I thanked again this fine group of men for inspiring me and pushing me through this event. Hardest physical thing I personally have ever done. Who’s ready to sign up for the next one?!