In the cold at Tough Mudder 

Angels save the day at obstacles designed to bring competitors together

click to enlarge TOUGH TEST John French (left side) participated in the Tough Mudder on team Test of Metal June 23 with Trish Brown, Darlene and Cliff Miller and Dwayne Kress.
  • TOUGH TEST John French (left side) participated in the Tough Mudder on team Test of Metal June 23 with Trish Brown, Darlene and Cliff Miller and Dwayne Kress.

Choosing to bring a swim cap and swim goggles seemed nerdy at first but when it came time to duck under a barbwire- covered wooden barrier in a huge blue construction bin filled with cold water I got that it was pure brilliance.

In the obstacle called Arctic Enema the shocking cold would have been even more difficult to take were it not for my Squamish Triathlon cap left over from 2007. The goggles meant that I got to keep my eyes open while fully submerged in the ice-cold pink tinged water at the northern edge of the cross-country stadium at Whistler Olympic Park (WOP). When I brought the goggles with me I didn't know if there would be anything to see, but I wasn't taking any chances.

Alice Lake in July is never as cold as a Carney's dumpster filled with blocks of ice in June at WOP.

This is Tough Mudder. My day on Saturday started at 5:20 a.m. after doing emcee duties the night before at the Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraising event. Raising $410 from a fake jail cell the night before was a breeze compared to wading through the cold-water prison I found myself in some 12 hours later.

The depth of the water is manageable when I first drop in. At the barrier my feet are on the bottom and head above water. On the other side of the abyss I notice the cheeky Tough Mudder folks dropped the bottom and suddenly I am on tiptoes advancing like a ballerina without any grace.

In the distance I hear tortured cries of a fellow competitor complaining his nuts have "retreated inside" his body.

Thankful that all my body parts seem to be functioning normally, I see a complete stranger, with a halo slightly visible over his head, reaching an arm down to me.

"Take my hand," he yells, the sound barely audible through my pink-dye water -logged ears.

Behind me two clear-headed guys are climbing out of the side of the bin without the help of a comrade.

Once my soggy frame is out of the bin I turn to see who I can help, but quite frankly I'm so cold at this point that I don't even know what to do to help. With the rest of my team members fished out of the bin, we continue our Tough Mudder journey around WOP.

Another swim and the shock of my life still await us.

After a series of mud-filled challenges we reach the halfway point of the course and a short paddle through a small corner of Madely Lake. Yet another stranger with a faint, barely recognizable halo over his head pulled me out of the lake. Safely out of the freezing water I jump right into action pulling the person behind me out of the icy lake. Feeling confident in my ability to save freezing souls from frigid water I grab the hand of the next swimmer only to be yanked right back into the water.

As I am fully submerged there's no doubt in my mind that the water is colder now than it was just 30 seconds ago.

"Sorry," says the woman who reintroduced me to Madely Lake.

There's no desire for ice-cold beer at this point.

That changes when I'm one electrically charged wire from exiting Electric Eel. This obstacle requires me to crawl through mud under logs and barbed wire. The very last wire I pass catches my shoulder and sends a numbing shock through the right side of my body leaving my right arm with a tingling feeling for the next two minutes.

By the time my team reaches the finish line, the only thing on my mind was the orange bracelet on my wrist representing an ice-cold beer.

I am bruised and stiff. But I am also pre-registered for 2013.

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