Insider survival guide to the Tough Mudder

(WXIA) -- When the name of the race is "Tough Mudder", you know you'll need a little something extra to finish. That "extra" can be grit, determination, will power. Or, insider information.

More than 7,000 runners will hit the 11 mile course in Lilburn this weekend to participate in the race that's quickly becoming a favorite among runners. It will take anywhere from two to four hours and test everything from upper-body strength to pain tolerance.

The Mudder, which started back in 2010, is a 10- to 12-mile untimed run comprised of over 20 obstacles. In 2013, the race had more than 700,000 participants worldwide.

The website will include an incomplete list of possible obstacles, but it's a bit of a secret exactly which ones will show up on the course. And, we love to share secrets.

11Alive's Julie Wolfe, Greg Rossino, and Beth Sawicki got an early run at the course. The race's general manager and course designer were on scene to pass along tips. Here's a full list of obstacles in order:

  • Quagmire
  • Warrior Carry
  • Pole Dancer: You shimmy your way down parallel bars and then back up. (Tip: bend your legs, swinging them around in the water creates extra traction. This was, hands down, the hardest obstacle on the course. Once you fall, it's very difficult to hoist yourself back up.)
  • Glory Blades: 2.5 meter walls that are slanted towards you. (Tip: 50% of Mudders require teamwork to get over Glory Blades. Have your strongest team member go last, and boost runners up by the bum)
  • Cliffhanger: 15+ meter cliff of slippery mud angled at 45-degrees. (Tip: working as a team is the fastest way to get up the slope. Slow and steady gets it done. The more you fall in the mud, the harder the climb becomes.)
  • Funky Monkey: Monkey bars are on a steep incline upward for the first half of the obstacle and they descend downward for the second part. About 30% of mudders fall into the pool of muddy water. (Tip: Try to dry your hands off before you approach. Keep moving; once you stop, your arms will tire out quickly. Pump your legs. If you can't swing from bar to bar, go one hand, and the next hand on every single bar. It's what got Julie Wolfe across dry!)
  • K2: A super-steep cliff with ropes to help you scramble up the edge. (Tip: the sides of the course are easier than going right up the middle, where it's steeper. Use your hands, knees, and toes to dig foot holes into the mud. If it gets too slippery, you can build a pyramid with teammates. Don't look down.)
  • Trench Warfare: Crawl through narrow, dark, muddy trenches and watch out for rocks, obstructions, and the occasional splash of muddy water from the Mudder crawling ahead. This obstacle is almost pitch black until you finally reach the other side.
  • Arctic Enema: Swim through an ice bath and pull yourself up on the other side. (Tip: don't think about it. Just get this one done as quickly as possible.)
  • Berlin Walls: 80% of participants require teamwork to get over Berlin Walls. (Tip: if you're not running with a team, make friends quick)
  • Spider's Web Mud Mile: The most hardcore mile you've ever run. Slosh through a series of waist-deep mud pits and try not to lose your shoes in the process. (Tip: tie your shoes. Seriously. This think mud can suck them off your feet.)
  • Walk the Plank Balls to the Wall: This obstacle will have you scaling a wall three and a half meters in the air using only a muddy rope and what's left of your strength. Once you reach the top, work up the courage to descend the rope on the other side.
  • Everest: It's muddy, greasy, and slippery. (Tip: keep at it. The view is worth it)
  • Mudder Legion only (exclusive part of the course for only those who have completed a Tough Mudder before): Two mystery obstacles
  • Family Feud: It's a course that pits mudders against mudders in a course that reminds us of the show "Wipeout". (Tip: make alliances and vow payback)
  • Electroshock Therapy: 10,000 volt "strings" shock the daylights out of you. (Tip: don't try to weave your way around them. It's not possible. Put your fists up to protect your face and run as fast as you can.)

There's a renewed focus on safety this year. A medic will be on site at every single obstacle. Emergency routes have been planned to each spot along the course (including through the deep woods). Each obstacle is marked with warnings about what to expect, and there's an opt out version you can take to get your around obstacles with water or electricity.

The 7,000 runners will go in times corrals Saturday and Sunday. You can still sign up by showing up on site or registering online.

After you run the Tough Mudder, send us your photos at We'll add them to our gallery. Good luck!


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