What it’s like to run your first ETM

First things first, I really don’t remember past 3/4am.

This year I’ve set myself three challenges; run ETM, Run Berlin Marathon in September and run WTM in November. I’ve completed the first one and thought I’d give a newbies eye view of what I went through and where possible, give what advise I’ve stolen from the rest of the guys in our team.

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As most of you will know Europe’s Toughest Mudder is a 12 hour through the night event, that requires runners, teams and “the crazies” to complete as many 5 mile laps as possible. Completing different obstacles that open and close at different times over said 12 hours. If you hit certain mileage targets you achieve different benefits for future World’s Toughest Mudder events, such as a better pit area if you achieve ‘contender’ status.

TMHQ mixed it up a bit this year by adding 4 hours to the previous 8, implementing the pit lane similar to WTM which replaces the communal tent from previous years.

The only experience I’d had of ETM is volunteering at last years event whilst Kris, Pabs, Jess and Tom smashed around the course. I said the day after I’d finally caught up with the missed sleep, that I’d want to run this year and signed up last October.

As I was, and would still say I am a newbie to these events the knowledge and advice from this incredible team saved my bacon in more than one occasion. Even if I bought the ‘wrong’ wetsuit…

I bought a shortie and survived damn it!!

I digress, back to the actual topic in hand. As mentioned, this year it was a 12 hour event that ran from 8pm Saturday to 8am Sunday. This meant that we started in what I’ll call daylight, it wasn’t the clear blue skies and 15/17 degree temperatures you imagine with that word but in comparison to what it was like mere hours later, it was the best I could’ve hoped for.

The whole things starts with a pep talk, standing arm in arm with your team, or fellow runners, whilst you recite the Tougher Mudder pledge and then a countdown before you can finally get going. It all felt very ‘normal’ and easily compared to a standard TM event, that is until you complete the sprint lap where no obstacles are open. I say none are open, there were some ‘non-obstacles’ that are open such as ‘Random Mud Hole’, ‘Creek Crusade’, ‘Mud Mile’ and the singularly most hated obstacle known to all mankind that is ‘Devils Beard’. I can’t repeat the many names I called this obstacle throughout the night as they are unprintable, let’s just say that I profusely apologised to the MVP on my last lap as my hatred seemed to be aimed at him towards the end… At the end of the sprint lap, you come through the pit lane runway. My first experience of running through there was incredible. The pit crew and volunteers all lined the pathway and cheered you on no matter if they knew you or not.

From then on in, once everyone has passed through the pit lane or an hour has passed, TMHQ open obstacles at their pleasure. If this doesn’t inspire you to run as fast as possible as you approach each obstacle hoping and praying you get past before they open them then nothing will haha 😂 .

With the constant presence and encouragement of Tom, we cracked out the first 3 laps, (15 miles), before stopping to pit. We scoffed down some food and water, added more layers and sipped a bit more water before heading out. It was at this point where I zipped up my wetsuit proper, added my windbreaker and donned the gimp hat. That’s a neoprene hat to most, but I felt/looked ridiculous in it and loved Pabs’ name for them 😂 Tom and I went back out, feeling warmer and better for eating and managed another lap.

After this, our fourth lap, I was suffering with the dip in temperatures and discovered the Godsend that is Chicken Noodle Soup. Simple hot water, stock cubes and dry noodles sat in a thermos for several hours literally saved my life! I’m going to blame the fact that Arctic Enema was opened on this sudden acceptance of the cold, although weirdly it wasn’t that cold… I think this was due to the wetsuit and the lack of ice on that lap was a nice surprise 👍🏻

Tom and I then went out for two more laps, naturally slower than the others due to fatigue and hunger but we used Toms strategy of ‘run this bit, walk that bit’ which helped us maintain our temperature and keep the legs going. As we were running, Tom was calculating times for us to hit when we got in and left the pits and I was aiming for 40 miles. We were both incredibly close to hitting said mileage but after lap 7 I couldn’t give anymore.

The sheer joy of finishing my first proper endurance event was only escalated by having the incredible team around me, I did and still do, felt awful that we barely got to run together and especially that we didn’t get to finish together but we did get to see Pabs and Kris cross the line, hand in hand with smiles across their faces. And for those who know Pabs, you know that the smile is a rarity!

I very much doubt I’ll be competing in/ completing ETM again but I cannot understate how much I enjoyed the experience and how much I’m looking forward to Worlds in November with the team!

I still hate Devils-fucking- Beard though.

Murray out 🏃🏼‍♂️

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