Tough Mudder - Whistler, Canada 2014

Tough Mudder, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

The Tough Mudder is an endurance event held in numerous places across the world, based on designs by the British SAS. It is advertised as ‘Probably the toughest event on the planet’.

I had the opportunity to take part while I was visiting Vancouver Canada. The location for this event was at Whistler, one of the premier outdoor locations in the area. The course consisted of 20 obstacles (any of which can be bypassed) over 19 kilometres and is held over 2 days. We (Gilles, Louisa, and myself) competed on the Sunday.

At the start, we are grouped together and given our warm up speech consisting of lines such as:

“19 kilometres of hell”

“Welcome to the Mudder Legion”

“There is no clock here, I don’t care about your time”

“You are all here to finish. You are all on the same team now. Leave no Mudder behind”

The Mudder begins with a run through the hillside, mainly over rocky terrain, up and down with spectacular views of the forest and the distant range (something you get used to doing between obstacles, but you never get used to the views). You run a loop for nearly two kilometres before the first obstacle – the “Arctic Enema”, a shipping container filled with ice and water and a divider in the centre to ensure that you go under and through the 1⁰C liquid. When we arrived my teammate kept telling the volunteers that we needed more ice in the water before we jumped in. As there were three of us, I stayed close to the bottom, swimming through the pitch black water until I was on the other side. When I emerged, I let loose with a litany of curses as I shook off the frigid water.

This was followed by the “Glory Blades” – two sets of walls angled towards the competitor. By now we were mostly dry, and made our way onward to “Walk the plank”, a four/five metre high platform over a small lake (thankfully not filled with ice). “Hold your wood” was next, where competitors select a log from a pile to carry for around 500 metres before depositing back on the pile. “Kiss of Mud” was an easy obstacle whereby you crawled through the mud under a barbed wire canopy. It was probably around another two kilometres before we reached the “Berlin Walls” were two lots of four/five metre walls to be scaled. Many competitors were able to sprint, run up the wall and over, but others needed a boost to get over (including me as I just couldn’t quite get over). We stopped here and helped a few others get over.

Crossing the Blades, Tough Mudder, Whistler, British Columbia, CanadaWalking the Plank, Tough Mudder, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Hold you Wood, Tough Mudder, Whistler, British Columbia, CanadaA ways on again came the “Mud Mile” which must have been measured by someone with a mathematics disorder because it was probably around a 100-150 metre long stretch with five mud holes separated by mud barriers. Halfway through the mud one of the contestants cried out with a cramp and we stopped to attend him. Literally a dozen people stopped in their tracks to signal for medics as his teammates, Gilles and myself helped to lift him out of the mud and get him safely off the course. “Lumberjacked” was a simple series of logs set at various heights to jump over. “Prairie Dog” consisted of scrambling up one pipe then down another, “Trench Warfare” a small dark tunnel that veers off a couple of times before emerging again into the light. The “Ladder to Hell” was wooden structure, probably six or seven metres, with slats set about a metre or so apart for contestants to scale. Here again we helped someone to get over the top and succeed in their goals.

The “Warriors Carry” had contestants carry another contestant for 100 metres before reversing the situation for another 100 metres. The “Devils Beard” is a weighted rope net whereby a team member goes under and raises the net for another team member to go through and past enough to hold up another part of the net to create a tunnel. Each team member leap frogs through until everyone has passed the obstacle. “Balls to the Wall” was another wall to scale, probably five metres high (my sense of scale having become completely skewed by this time), with the help of a knotted rope. “Log Jamming” was another series of logs, this time to go over and under. The “Cliffhanger” was a short but very steep uphill beside the Olympic Ski Jump, in the middle of two moderate uphill climbs.

Electroshock Therapy, Tough Mudder, Whistler, British Columbia, CanadaThe “Funky Monkey” was quite the challenge, and I dropped into the water halfway through. It consists of two sets of monkey bars stretched over a pond – the 1st set angled up, and the 2nd down. Then came “Everest” a skate board quarter pipe to run and pull yourself up to the top. After the Funky Monkey, this proved difficult for many a contestant, and as such there were a dozen Mudders perched on top helping pull them up. It was after this that veteran Mudders were able to partake in a couple of extra obstacles before heading along to the final obstacle – “”Electroshock Therapy”. To finish the day, I walked through this obstacle, arms stretched wide, to catch as many of the electrical cables hanging over the mud pit as possible.

The End of Tough Mudder, Whistler, British Columbia, CanadaThe Tough Mudder was a brilliant challenge, which tested the limits of my endurance (I am not a runner or a jogger) and made for an excellent experience. I am looking forward to taking part in another event somewhere in the world, maybe even at home in Adelaide if they can ever get it approved. If you want a challenge, if you want to do something a little extreme, you should give it a go. A word of advice though, do some cross training – You will need it.

Below is a video highlighting my experience of the event: Run Time: 2:47




Other Canada Articles

Vancouver Part 1
Vancouver Part 2
Vancouver Part 3
Canada Day


Brussels, Belgium - Part 1

Delerium Cafe, Brussels. BelgiumBrussels is the capital of Belgium, and the European Union. It is the home of waffles (there is no such thing as Belgium Waffles) and fries (are not French in origin) and widely regarded as a capital of beer.

We arrived in Belgium after 5 days of camping in the Netherlands and went to the apartment we had rented for the week, 10 kilometres from the city centre. We had opted for an apartment in order to relax in quiet and cook for ourselves (a rarity on this trip so far).

Brussels. BelgiumThe week began easily with us taking in some Jazz performance on International Jazz Day, then on the Thursday a friend arrived from Germany to spend the weekend with us. It was May Day and most of the city was closed for the holiday, but we found a street party to enjoy with dozens of food and drink stalls and a free rock concert.

Belgium is home to some exceptional beers as well as bars to enjoy them in. There were two bars that really stood out for us, Delerium Tremens and Moeder Lambic.

Delerium Tremens Café is an excellent bar listed in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most beers available in any venue (currently they have over 3000). There are a few of these in the city centre, but we only visited the main café which has three levels. The Café was always busy and the beer was excellent. The café also offers a menu book as a souvenir which I bought for 5 Euros. Delerium also have a number of other cafés that include one dedicated to Tequila.

Delerium Cafe, Brussels. BelgiumDelerium Cafe, Brussels. Belgium

Moeder Lambic, Brussels. BelgiumMoeder Lambic has two locations offering a range of excellent beers including the Lambic Spontaneous Fermentations. When we visited, they were offering the Saint Bon-Chien range of beers… When we arrived, we asked a bartender to recommend a beer for us to try. He asked us what flavours we specifically wanted to explore and then chose a beer for us accordingly, an excellent service to offer. Here we tried the following beers: La Saison 225 Abricot, a light fruit beer; La Saison 225 Grapes, a beautiful beer with syrah grapes; Framboise Cantillon, a spontaneous fermentation raspberry ale; Bière de Miel, a surprisingly hoppy honey beer; La Saison 225, a good but not outstanding ale; Valier Blond, a fruity slightly hoppy beer; Val-Dieu Blonde, very lightly flavoured with almost no hops; Cuvée De Ranke, a spontaneous fermentation sour ale with excellent aromas of fruit with a hint of hops; Abbaye St Bon-Chien 2013, An extraordinary beer with very subtle carbonation in the style of a fine champagne.

If you visit Brussels, and enjoy tasting beer, I would highly recommend visiting both of these bars. Delerium for its range and ambience, and Moeder Lambic for the quality and variety of Lambic beers available.

Other articles in Belgium:

Brussels, Belgium Part 2

Brussels, Belgium Part 3

Brussels, International Jazz Day



Camping at Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsWe visited the Netherlands in late April and camped in a small town, Katwijk Aan See. When first we began our planning we thought we would rent a room in Amsterdam and explore from there, but found that the prices were exorbitant and so opted for a camping site instead. Getting to Katwijk Aan See was very easy with the trains and buses operating frequently.

The campground, Noordduinen, was very neat and tidy and supplied excellent service. The bathrooms and showers were kept very clean, the administration office charged phones and tablets upon request at no extra cost (though there is power available at each pitch for a cost), there was a General Store, and a restaurant and leisure facility, and it was a small walk to the town centre and the beach.

Beer at Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsBeer at Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsBeer at Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands

During our stay we visited the Kuekenhof utilising a shuttle bus from the campsite and walked the town on Konigsdag. We also took a day out to visit Amsterdam where we were going to do Sandemans New Europe Cycling Tour, but unfortunately there was no English guide available that day. Instead we walked the city for a while and visited the Rijks Museum.

The Singel Bridge at the Paleissatraat in Amsterdam by George Hendrik Breitner: Rijks Museum, AmsterdamThe Rijks is by far one of the best art museums I have visited. It is four story building with vast halls (some of which are art unto themselves since the building was restored over the previous decade), and while there were a great many pieces on display it never felt cluttered or too much. Different periods of time and art are separated into rooms sequentially numbered to enable ease of progression throughout: 1100-1600, 1600-1650, 1650-1700, 1700-1800, 1900-1950, 1950-2000. The Rijks is highly selective with regard to the pieces on display, and they have taken great care with regards to the presentation, often linking art by theme across a period. A great example of this is Rembrandt’s Nachtwacht (possibly their most famous piece) displayed in a room at the end of a long gallery. One the walls of the Nachtwacht room are other examples of the genre of painting from the period and allows the viewer to appreciate how different Rembrandt’s is.

Along with the paintings the Rijks also has some excellent sculpture, furnishings and clothing, ship models, and an armoury. The armoury was a delight with some excellent examples of the art associated with weaponry and armour. Their display contains hundreds of swords of various design and an impressive array of firearms. The intricacy of the work on these arms is incredible and serves to remind that there was a time when artisans worked tirelessly to create these pieces rather than mass-produce for war.

Rijks Museum, AmsterdamRijks Museum, Amsterdam

Weeping and Captive caryatids: Remorse and Penance by Artus Quellinus I; Rijks Museum, AmsterdamGuided tours are available for the Rijks at a small cost and I found it to be incredibly informative, especially when the guide used their tablet to show us x-rays of some of the art. When you visit the Rijks one of the first things you will notice is a queue near one entry with a sign informing you that ‘waiting in line is part of the Rijks experience’. To the other side of road from this line is an express entry for those who have pre-purchased tickets (which can done from a store next to the nearby canal for a few Euros more).

The Kuekenhof and Rijks museum, and being fortunate enough to be there for Konigsdag, made this trip to the Netherlands a joy and I’m glad to have visited. 


Other Netherlands Articles:

A Day at The Kuekenhof



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