Tough Mudder London South 2023: Survival Guide

Tough Mudder is a global fitness event renowned for its mucky and challenging obstacles with an unbreakable camaraderie from all ages and abilities alike. From my earliest childhood memories of jumping into muddy puddles in my wellies to ascending obstacles in a field and throwing myself into pits of mud on the epic TM courses as an adult – I can personally confirm that playing outdoors in mud is still just as fun as it’s always been!

I am incredibly excited to introduce my teenage daughter, Millisent 16yrs, to the Tough Mudder experience this year at their London South event which took place on September 23rd and 24th 2023 at the Holmbush Estate in West Sussex.

As with every Tough Mudder there are three different course distances to choose from: 5K, 10K, and 15K. All of the courses feature a variety of challenging obstacles including mud pits, ice baths, and electric shocks prior to the finish line which make for the perfect jaw-dropping stories to share with friends and reminisce over for many years to come. Can you imagine telling your great grandchildren how Granny ran 15km through mud in the countryside with 30 obstacles and electric shocks! What a legend!

With my daughter by my side this year, I thought I’d ease her into the TM family with the toughest course possible at 15km and 30 obstacles. If you’re looking for something a little less challenging then their 10km has 20 obstacles, the 5km 13 obstacles and there’s also a 1mile muddy adventure for kids.

If you’re thinking about participating in future Tough Mudder events then I’ll pop some tips and advice here for everything that you need to know…

Event Training Tips

Whilst Tough Mudder is a challenging event, it’s also suitable for all ages and abilities, so you can choose to sprint off and be the fastest or strongest to set records, or choose to jog, run or walk the course instead, taking your time and soaking up fresh air and sunshine as you converse with other cheerful Mudders.

If you’re new to obstacle course racing, and your finish time is important to you, I would recommend starting by training for a 5K race. As you get stronger and more experienced, you can then move up to longer distances in a shorter time. You may have to queue for some obstacles, particularly if they involve climbing or crawling where people get delayed or want to reattempt which is a great chance to catch your breath and have an active rest before sprinting off to the next obstacle.

  • Focus on cardio and strength training prior to the event. Cardio will help to improve your endurance while strength training will help you to build the muscle you need to complete the obstacles more easily
  • Train on uneven terrain. Tough Mudder courses are often run on uneven terrain, so it’s important to train on a variety of surfaces as outdoor hill running is far more challenging than being on a flat treadmill in the gym
  • Practice the obstacles. Many Tough Mudder obstacles can be practiced at home or at a local park with similar motions, movements and challenges that you can perfect and build muscle memory for prior to your participation

What To Wear For The Race

Tough Mudder is obviously a muddy event, so it’s important to wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. I always use my old gym wear and tend to wear shorts, a sports bra and vest which is lightweight and minimal, especially when wet or covered in mud. You’ll also want to wear comfortable shoes that have good traction so that you don’t slip over.

  • Old running shoes or hiking boots
  • Old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty
  • A headband to keep the mud out of your hair

What To Bring With You

In addition to your gym wear, you’ll also need to bring a few other items to Tough Mudder, including:

  • A water bottle
  • A towel
  • A change of clothes
  • A headlamp – if you’re running in the dark
  • Sunscreen / sunglasses – if it’s a hot day
  • A waterproof phone pouch – if you’re looking to capture your journey or take your own finish line photos
  • Money for food and drinks

Race Day Tips

  • Arrive early so that you have time to park, register and use the toilets
  • Eat a light breakfast and drink plenty of water so that you’re ready to run
  • Warm up before the race – stretching is your friend!
  • Pace yourself during the race, it’s the taking part that counts!
  • Have fun! Tough Mudder is a challenging but rewarding experience that you will cherish forever
  • Run with a team – Tough Mudder is a great event for friends, family and meeting like-minded individuals
  • Help your fellow Mudders – it’s a team sport, if you see someone struggling then offer them a hand and give one another a pat on the back for motivation
  • Celebrate your accomplishment. When you finish Tough Mudder you can receive an orange headband, t-shirt and medal to wear with pride!

Millisent’s Thoughts

Millisent says: “I’m glad that I took on the 15km, although at the time I didn’t think that I’d achieve it. I’ve never taken part in a fitness event before, but I know that my mum loves them and wanted to see what it was like. I walk to school and back each day which is about 3.5miles in total, but the 15km race is about 9 miles in one go, which seemed a bit daunting from the starting line!”

Millisent continues: “It was really nice to meet so many cheerful people who were all very supportive, especially during the moments when I wanted to walk instead of jogging between obstacles because I was out of breath and got really hot. I didn’t do any training for this event because I’ve been really busy with my GCSE’s and don’t have a gym membership, but when we were asked in the warm up pen how many people had trained for this event, it was reassuring to see that only about a third of the participants had. I guess so many people were just normal people rather than fitness fanatics which really put me at ease.”

Millisent concludes: “I would definitely do another Tough Mudder as it’s given me a taste for adventure and to think of mud as something that can be fun instead of dirty or to be avoided. My friends can’t believe that I completed the 15km course for my very first event, perhaps they’ll join us next year!?”

My Thoughts

What a thoroughly enjoyable, and very tiring, day we had! And what a rush it was to throw ourselves into the thick of it with the 15km with no preparation training. We had such a lovely mix of people in our wave of Mudders, with one guy dressed as a bride and another as a bumble bee as well as big teams of work colleagues and lots of couples.

Despite the fact that you are sent out in waves at different time slots throughout the day, you have as long as you like to complete the course and so we ended up passing, and being passed by, so many familiar faces throughout the 3hrs or so that we were at the event.

There are toilets in the main holding area before and after the race, as well as some dotted about the course, along with water stations and snack stops brimming with protein bars and energy drinks for Mudders to help themselves to. You also get a t-shirt, headband, bottle of water, protein bar and beer when you cross the finish line which is a wonderful thing to look forward to as you swim, climb, crawl and leap through the final few kilometers.

Having Millisent with me meant that I didn’t jog as much as I would have if I were alone, or perhaps with another adult, but as others in our wave ran ahead and queued for obstacles we all ended up arriving at the same time anyway. So if all that you can manage is a 15km walk with no obstacles, it would actually be a pretty nice day out still.

Our course contained 30 obstacles for which you can bypass them if you find it too difficult or aren’t a strong swimmer, climber or lack upper body strength. The heartfelt message that resonates throughout is that it’s the taking part that counts and isn’t a competition but a collective of happy, healthy individuals coming together to have fun.

It was lovely to have so many people reach out a hand, off a leg up, help us through deep water and run through the dangling electric wires with as a giggling wall of bodies getting zapped and falling over. I have face ache from laughing, just as much as my limbs ache from such a wonderfully active day spent in the sunshine, nestled in such beautiful woodland as spectators sat with children eating ice creams, walking dogs and cheering on the Mudders. And the vegan loaded fries in the food court were amazing!

Completing my third Tough Mudder event was such a special moment for me, firstly for the physical challenge, secondly for the wonderful friends that I made and thirdly because I got to experience it with my daughter and hope that it may now ignite a love for adventure and physical challenges. But… if she starts secretly training hill sprints and pull up’s in preparation for next year then Tough Mudder 2024 could well be the showdown of the century for the Kiss Family!

GREAT NEWS! You can use code “TRYATOUGHMUDDER24” for 20% off of all 2024 Tough Mudder events!

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Tracy Kiss

Social influencer, Bodybuilder, Mother, Vegan
London, UK

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