As we kick off the year long celebrations for our 10 year anniversary it only makes sense that we talk to the Mudders that have spent the years getting down and dirty with us.
We cornered Tough Mudder UK ambassadors Chris and Anthony ahead of their 100th Tough Mudder at Tough Mudder Yorkshire to ask them how they’re celebrating, what 100 headbands means to them and why they keep coming back.
MEET THE MUDDERS WHO HAVE 100 HEADBANDS
Tough Mudder: Chris and Ant – congratulations. One hundred headbands is one hell of an acheivement, how does it feel?
Ant: Achieving my 100th Tough Mudder event really does mean the world to me as I have put so much dedication and loyalty to the brand I love so much.
Chris: The brutally honest answer is that I have mixed feelings about it. It does have a sense of achievement on one level but also it’s just another event. I’ve never chased the numbers, it’s my love of the events that keep me coming back. Reaching 100x is pretty badass in one sense but it’s also arbitrary and it really doesn’t matter (to me) if it’s your first, 10th or 100th because it’s the great memories and experiences that count.
Tough Mudder: The two of you will run your 100th Tough Mudder event together at Yorkshire – what do you have planned for the day?
Chris: I’ve always been one for keeping things simple so I won’t be making a big fuss personally. Ant has been there since those first UK events in 2012 and we met on course in 2013 I think, so it will be good to do that again for our 100x together.
Ant: On the day I am going to be running the event with all the legionnaires that I have the honour to call my friends, amazing people that I would not of known if not for Tough Mudder. I will be running with the legend Chris James who’s also getting his 100 as we have been through all the events and have been there with tough mudder from the first year back in 2012 and have seen the amazing evolution of the course and brand.
Tough Mudder: Six years of mud, electricity and ice is going to sound pretty crazy to some people, what’s kept you coming back again and again?
Ant: The people. It’s the people that keep me coming back as I have met some amazing, inspirational people that I’m proud to call friends.
Chris: It’s my love of the events that keep me coming back but I get asked that often and still struggle to define it. It’s the fact it doesn’t matter who you are back in the World, here, you’re just another Mudder… I’ve met so many different people from all walks of life, each with their own motivations, stories and challenges and yet here they are. They turn up, run, walk, crawl and (hopefully) have fun overcoming adversity. At the time, nothing else matters and of course you can’t beat that finish line feeling, the achievement that earned you that headband.
Tough Mudder: Let’s get down to the real nitty gritty – what’s your favourite obstacle of all time?
Chris: That is a Tough… Probably Kong for being the most fun. The Cliff Jump/Stacks at World’s Toughest Mudder is something ‘next level’ and can be a challenge to the nerves for most of us. However, I guess the one I’d miss the most on the Tough Mudder 15K (formerly Classic) course if it had to go is Everest as I have both good and bad days on there.
Ant: My fave obstacle of all time is a hard one to answer as over the years I have seen the obstacles evolve so I will give my 3 fave obstacles in order and why. Firstly, Fire in Your Hole simply because it was high and it helped me deal and overcome my fear of heights. Next, King of the Swingers, which was amazing because it was so much of a mental challenge jumping from that height, yes I managed to hit the bell a few times but wiped out quite a few times too. Finally the original version of Funky Monkey as it was such a challenge and took me a good few events before I built up the strength and technique to conquer this obstacle. It will always be a favourite of mine as this inspired me to hit the gym and work on certain things.
Tough Mudder: What’s been your favourite moment on course ever?
Ant: It’s really hard for me to choose but one of them was when the legend himself Gil Kolrin pulled the best ever start line in Scotland last year, it had the best atmosphere ever. The second was my son Liam running his first ever tough Mudder with me earlier this season.
Chris: I’ve had way too much of a great time to pin that down to one moment. Being on course assisting TMHQ’s Nikki Emerson (2013) to become the first athlete to complete a Tough Mudder from her wheelchair was standout as an amazing experience, especially as I assisted her through several obstacles which included me going backwards through Electric Eel.
Tough Mudder: And your most difficult experience?
Chris: That’s easy, last year I sprained my ankle at South West TM. Next day it was useable, so, of course, I bound it up and went out again for ‘Sunday Funday’. Once I got home I spent a few weeks healing and it seemed OK so I went to TM London South. I had it bound up but, of course, I rolled it again… That. Hurt. So I took things easy. Now it was the end of the season and I had six weeks or so break until November’s 24hr World’s Toughest Mudder. By the time I got to Atlanta to run the legendary WTM 24hr event for my third time and I was feeling OK. I was aware I’d been injured but all seemed good. The build-up and start were amazing, the start gun went and off we set. All was good for the first couple of miles. And then on a relatively steep but usually manageable down-hill toward the end of the first lap, a slight misstep and *crack* It ‘went’ again. Decisions… Quit? Not going to happen. Get medical help and risk a DQ (disqualification)? Not going to happen. Run it off? Well yeah, I don’t have much choice. Get it bound up nice and tight if I can just make it to the pit area? Let’s see how we are when I get there. Thankfully, mostly due to some stubbornness/grit/stupidity I got back to the PIT and although it hurt I decided I’d put off asking my support/PIT crew Paul to bind it up until I had to, as I only had 22 hours or so to go. I just kept going, one foot in front of the other and repeat. I did this for the rest of the race. On my last Pit stop, Paul suggested I had time for another 2 laps if I sped up, but it wasn’t going to happen so Paul accompanied me with banter from the sidelines. I spent the last hour or so as a ladder at the bottom of Mudderhorn assisting tired cold mudders up to the net. Then the 24-hour klaxon went and I knew it was time to finish. 50 official miles and 24 hrs done. Never again. Not until November 2019.
Ant: My most difficult moment on course was more of a challenge, back in 2016 myself my partnerHelen harper and my team had taken the challenge to help Paralympian fencer Dimitri Coutya complete his first tough mudder.. which was such an amazing and rewarding experience.
Tough Mudder: With 100 Tough Mudder events under your belt, what comes next?
Chris: I’m hopefully heading to Atlanta for another play at WTM this November… Hopefully, it will be even more brutal than last year but I’d like to do it without an ankle sprain. As for Classic Tough Mudders, I shall carry on, rinse and repeat as it were. I’ve found there is always enough new at each and every event, new people to share it with, new obstacles to overcome and new locations to compare. Of course, as I’ve done so many, I have those moments where I think “I’m done” (usually mid lap when I’m tired and cold) or as I’ve told people “I’ll take more of a backseat this year…” but each finish and the great experiences I’ve had to keep me wanting more, so I guess I’ll just keep coming back…
Ant: Next on my Mudder journey… keep doing what I am doing. I would love to take on the challenge of World’s Toughest Mudder as I have not competed in that yet but loved Europe’s Toughest Mudder and think that is going to be the next step.