No Obstacle Too Big: One Consultant’s Quest to the ‘World’s Toughest Mudder’

By Greencastle Consulting

Our team members are up to some incredible things outside of the office and Ryan’s recent Tough Mudder race is no exception.

Ryan Clements is an Associate Consultant and a former Army Infantry officer who is no stranger to competition or testing his physical and mental endurance. And his recent Tough Mudder 10k competition was his most recent test.

If you aren’t familiar with Tough Mudder, it’s an obstacle course race that spans either 5k, 10k or 15k distances. Within each course are multiple obstacles that require teamwork to get through. Sounds like fun, right? Well just wait until we mention the MUD!  Yes, there is water and mud involved in the obstacles!

Read through to hear about Ryan’s experience and the things he learned along the way. You may even find yourself signing up for the next race!

Tell us about the race!

The “Tough Mudder” was held in the Poconos Raceway on Saturday, September 30th, 2023. It spanned a grueling 10k (6.2miles) filled with challenging obstacles, and is infamous for testing the endurance, strength, and determination of the “Mudders” (participants).

How much training did you do to prepare?

On a weekly basis I averaged 2 hours in the water, 3-5 hours on the bike, and 2-4 hours running. I started training seriously in January, slowly increasing my weekly mileage over those 6 months. 

Why did you decide to do this race now?

I had always been fascinated by events that promote camaraderie and personal strength emanating from my memories of training in the military. This year, more than any other, felt like the right time. I craved the community spirit and physical challenge it promised, like my experiences in training and competing in Ranger School.

Have you done a Tough Mudder before? How did this one compare?

I’ve previously competed in Spartan Races and Sprint Triathlons. This race includes some more mentally taxing obstacles that required an innovative combination of endurance and mental grit to get the whole team to the finish line.

What did your training plan look like?

Preparation was key. My training schedule, spanning 3 months, included a mix of strength training, long-distance running, and high-intensity interval workouts. I simulated race conditions by training outside – trail running, swimming, and even climbing trees.

How did the race itself go?

The race was as challenging as I anticipated. We faced everything from icy water plunges to climbing steep, muddy hills and obstacles. But what stood out was the spirit of camaraderie among the other members of the race. Many obstacles required some kind of assistance to complete. So offering and receiving help were necessary to complete the course. It made the course more interesting and fun.

What was the hardest part?

The “Arctic Enema” directly followed by “Electroshock Therapy” were the most challenging obstacles. Diving into a dumpster filled with icy water and swimming under the obstacle jolted my system like a frozen hammer– followed by the running through electric wires that felt like I was getting kicked by a horse. I thought it would be easy because physically the challenge was simple, just far more intense than I expected.

What was the most rewarding part?

Crossing the finish line was undeniably sweet, but it was more rewarding was seeing teammates who had accepted the challenge, faced their fears and overcome them, finish their first big race. I was proud to be there to watch their confidence grow.

Any lessons learned from this experience?

Every Race teaches you something new. This race challenged my mental fortitude because of the length and variety of obstacles. The challenging obstacles required careful attention and time, especially for teammates that are facing fear or heights, getting very dirty, or pain tolerance. This course took about 4 hours to complete, so I will build it into my training plan to prep the whole team for it next time.

Have you signed up for another one?

I have signed up for one more Tough Mudder and an endurance race! The next Tough Mudder will be in Central Florida on December 3rd. I will use it in my training routine for the “World’s Toughest Mudder” in Philadelphia in May 2024. This is a 12-hour event that runs from 8pm-8am. The course is set to complete as many 5-mile laps with 20 obstacles in each lap as possible in 12 hours.

Is exercise an important part of your life? Why?

Exercise is not just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. It instills discipline, perseverance, and resilience. More than keeping me physically fit, it’s a mental booster, teaching me time and again that my boundaries are often self-imposed and just need me to push the limits to see how far I’m truly capable of going.