Tough Mudder adventure racers show up like zoo live stock after the gates were left open. It's a migration pushed by the same jungle flair.
From the big man in daisy dukes to the poor soul who cleared the first obstacle and broke down on their way to the second, they all showed up for one thing, The Tough Mudder.
Two Oregon toughies, my boys, hit the southern California event. They came back safely. This is their story:
Q: Why the Tough Mudder in the desert in summer?
A: It's a chance to do something with guys we know. Instead of going somewhere and getting fat, we thought this would be a change of pace.
A: With some pretty tough people.
Q: What was the hardest part?
A: The terrain. We had to work up Double Black Diamond ski runs. At 7000 feet. In 85 degree heat.
A: It was a choice. To run, or not to run.
Q: Not the obstacles? They weren't the hardest part?
A: Hard enough, but getting over the first wall set the tone. From eight foot walls to ten foot walls you learn a technique that works.
A: You learn fast how fit you are.
Q: What if your technique doesn't work?
A: Then you get a boost from others.
A: You give others a boost if they're struggling, too.
Q: Did either of you need a boost?
A: I got a leg cramp on one, but that was the only help I needed.
A: I slipped off the last rung of the monkey bars and splashed down on my back.
Q: So no one ran around with a ladder or rope?
A: Didn't need one.
A: Lots of help for anyone on the course.
Q: Take me through the start.
A: The first challenge is an eight foot wall. Get over that and start running.
A: We ran to the ice dip, full submersion to get under the barrier in the water.
Q: That had to shock your system.
A: It was like that all day.
A: They hosed you down while you crawled in the mud.
Q: Everyone dropped and crawled?
A. We crawled under wire.
A: It had electrical elements to spice it up.
Q: Which obstacle make you think about quitting?
A: None of them. The mountainside running was tough.
A: Not all of the events are on mountain ski slopes. It's an obstacle by itself.
Q: Where did you stay before The Tough Mudder?
A: Our friend's brother has a place in southern California.
A: It was a perfect house. Outfitted like a World's Strongest Man training station. He had kegs to throw, huge tires and sledge hammers, heavy things to lift and places to put them.
Q: Was he a strong man?
A: The strongest I've ever known.
A: Very strong and big without an ounce of give-up.
Q: At the end of the race they offer a beer and a tattoo. Did you get one?
A: I got the beer, not the tattoo.
A: I gave half my beer to him. And no tattoo.
Q: What would you tell others to do before they try a Tough Mudder?
A: Look hard at the event venue. Is it flat? This one wasn't.
A: I'd tell them to follow the instructions on the website. Be in shape and be prepared. Since the obstacles are new to most people it's hard to work the muscle groups you'll be using. You'll be sore afterward, no matter what.
Q: The big question: would you do it again?
A: I know some people who would do it, so I'd go again with a group.
A: Once is enough. It was fun, and I'd probably go again with the group, but it's not cheap.
Q: How do you think the military guys would do on the course you ran.
A: They'd get it done. One guy dressed like Captain America with a cape ran up the half-pipe and vaulted to the top.
A: There were lots of costumes. It sort of changed the event from a do or die feel to a carnival.
Q: Sounds like fun.
A: The word is grueling. It would be easy to quit and no one would complain. You can feel your body shutting down a little, but that's expected.
A: Like any challenge, there's a weeding out process. We didn't get weeded. No one on our team got weeded. Keeping up with the others and pushing hard is the best reward. We are Tough Mudders.
Q: You've made me a proud fodder. Again.
A: Thanks, dad.
A: Did you doubt us?
Q: Not then, not now, and you've got a ticket punched that shows you've got plenty of grit. You are Tough Mudders, but you were wrestlers first.