Tough Mudder Rachel McGowan.

Taking on a muddy challenge

Quesnel local Rachel McGowan took on the Tough Mudder challenge in Whistler over the summer

Quesnel local Rachel McGowan took on the Tough Mudder challenge in Whistler over the summer. The Tough Mudder is a 18 – 20km mountain course with 18 gruelling obstacles designed to be a test of your physical and mental capabilities from start to finish, with events taking place in North America, Europe and Australia. McGowan travelled to Whistler with a team of four friends from 100 Mile House and Alberta to take on the course.

After scaling a wall just to get to the starting line participants were soon plunged into their first obstacle, the Artica Enema, which requires participants to submerge themselves in a small pool filled with icy water.

The next obstacle tested a fear of heights with Walk the Plank, a 12ft high jump into a deep water pit, with a 40ft swim to the other end.

“I screamed and then jumped, because if I hadn’t screamed I wasn’t jumping,” McGowna said. “Once you hit the water and your shoes filled up with a water if felt like you were just going to sink.”

After swimming across to the other side McGowan was on solid ground and taking off to the next obstacle, quickly coming across the only obstacle she was truly dreading, Kiss the Mud which required Mudders to crawl commando-style through mud and dirt under barbed wire.

“The thing that makes it worse is there is a guy standing in the centre and his entire job for the day is to have a hose and spray people as they are crawling,” McGowan said.

“Water kept hitting me in the face and I couldn’t see the barbed wire so I would panic and slink back down.”

Fellow teammate was given a good laugh at McGowan’s expensive as he watched her crawl through the mud, notching the large amount of clearance she had between herself and the barbed wire through the entire obstacle.

“Apparently I was just one with the mud,” McGowan laughed.

After having finished her time kissing the mud to safely avoid the barbed wire, McGowan was off splashing in the mud again for her favourite obstacle the Mud Mile, which required participants to trudge through knee to waist deep mud pits as well as crawling up muddy hills. The trick was to not lose your shoes in the muddy mess in the process.

“There was a lot of mud.” McGowan said.

“It is called the Tough Mudder.”

One of the next obstacle tested a fear of the dark and small spaces with Trench Warfare. For this obstacle Mudders had to crawly though narrow, muddy and incredible dark trenches all the while watching for rocks, corners and the occasional splash of mud to the face from other participants.

Everest took a final burst of energy from the participants as they ran up to the top of a quarter-pipe. With the help of her teammates McGowan was able to make this challenge on the first try.

“I started to spring at it and this was at kilometre 18, so really close to the end when you are just burnt out and you don’t actually think you have that sprint left in you, but apparently you do,” McGowan said.

As she began sprinting up the quarter pipe a person on her left fell, tumbling down towards her. After quickly moving over to the side to avoid the falling Mudder a participant on her right began to slide down the pipe towards her legs.

“I’m almost getting towards the top and I think they are going to take out my feet so I just leapt,” she said.

“My team caught my hand just barely before I fell.”

The final obstacles made for a shocking finish. The Electroshock Therapy required participants to run through a field of hay bales and mud pits with hanging wires, some of the wires are dead but some have up to 100,000 volts.

McGowan dashed through the wires avoiding any obstacles in the way, her hands in front of her face to ward off an electrifying slap, luckily hitting only two live wires on this short sprint.

“The good thing about the placement of that one is it is literally at the finish line,” McGowan said. “You come out of the wires, they throw a headband on your head and hand you a beer.”

Getting a moment to relax McGowan was able to appreciate what she accomplished.

One mudder is not enough and she is already planning for next year’s event.


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