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Beginner’s Guide to Preparing for the Tough Mountain Challenge!

Hey! it’s DD. I am getting ready for Tough Mountain Challenge tomorrow, it’s been a tradition of Willow and I for the past three years, and I am getting my packing list together and I thought HEY! People probably need to know this stuff 🙂 So I put together some things to bring and things to know when preparing for the Tough Mountain Challenge!

First off – it’s a dang good time! I was terrified the first year, but I had SO MUCH FUN. Everyone goes at their own pace – for example the second year I was coming off a knee injury and I had to walk the whole thing, the first year I ran. The obstacles are not scary, they might be challenging, but nothing is going to (hopefully) freak you out to tears. It’s a great day on the mountain to challenge yourself, get some excercise, and chill with friends. Hopefully you’ve been training a bit, running, hiking, crossfitting – whatever – that will make it more fun and less of a struggle – but if you haven’t – you’ll become addicted to beating yourself and you’ll be defeated year one, but by year two, you’ll kick that mountain’s ASS.

crossing lilypads Tough Mountain Challenge

Ok – here’s a few of my hacks –

  1. book early. Like the day after the race. It sells out, and the am shifts are where it’s at. Get done before it gets too hot, and then you can party the rest of the day!
  2. Plan to stay, many places have a 2 night minimum, but you can find ones that you can book for only one night. We like ones you can walk to, because after you’re all muddy and done with the race, you want to get a beer, chat, and then shower! and getting in your car all muddy – yikes. Ain’t nobody got TIME for that!
  3. Find friends but be prepared to go it alone. Everyone goes at their own pace and it’s much more enjoyable when you can keep to your own pace.

ok now for attire –

  1. Shoes – very important – shoes that have some grips and fit TIGHT. the first obstacle is the shoe sucker – and it loves to eat shoes! (pro tip- go to the side, and not down the middle!)Tough Mountain Challenge
  2. Bottoms – People wear shorts – that’s their thing – I prefer capris, because you don’t get chafing, or mud in your hoo-ha. I also like having my knees covered, because there’s crawling and climbing, and it’s just easier in my book.
  3. Head ware – it’s important. You get mud in your eyes. I recommend a headband, or a bandanna, or a sweatband. I am using a bandanna this year, because it will help you wipe your face from the sweat and mud.
  4. Clothes to change into immediately after – FLIP FLOPS included. DO NOT FORGET YOUR FLIP FLOPS. Holy crap. You can store your bag in the ski lodge. Bring a towel to wipe off with and whatever else you need.
  5. Camera – you can’t take your camera on the course for obvious reasons but you can take photos of friends!
  6. You get a free beer when you’re done, so you’ll obvi need your id for registration, and you’ll probably want to stash it before you run, so you’ll want to connect with people that aren’t running to take your photo, hold your stuff. You can shotgun the beer on the course, but meh…. I’d rather wait till I’m done. There are plenty of water stations along the way, as you won’t really be able to take water with you.
  7. Sunglasses – stash these in your bag for after You can check your bag, but I always just leave it on a shelf.  You’ll want them for your beer time with all of the other dirty people.
  8. Plastic bag for your dirty clothes.  I have found that reusable grocery bags work great for this, not the cloth kind, obviously.
  9. Meet up spots – establish these. Because once you’re done, it’s so hard in the sea of people to find others!
  10. GET YOUR PHOTO TAKEN WITH THE WALL!Tough Mountain Challenge

The Course

It’s 4 Miles. So it will take a while. I average about 2 hours or so. Willow will be done in 1.5 hours, because she is a machine. I am just looking to enjoy the day and not hurt myself, and obviously get good photos.

there’s new obstacles every year, and I’m looking forward to checking them out!

Tough Mountain Challenge

From the Tough Mountain Website

Tough Mountain Challenge Course   SHOE SUCKER

A wonderfully dirty start to a wickedly awesome adventure, and a surefire way to add ten pounds of mud to your shoes before running up the mountain. Lace ’em up tight, kids.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    HURRICANE VALLEY

Twelve high-velocity snow guns create waves of water for you to navigate while making your way uphill. Known to cause contacts to pop out and make breathing difficult after you’re already winded.

Hurricane Valley at the Tough Mountain Challenge


Tough Mountain Challenge Course    CAGE CHOKER

Claustrophobic? Love it or hate it, you’ll need to relax your anxieties as you as you navigate your way through this one. Don’t pass out in the middle, as nobody will be able to reach you.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    BUST N’ BURN

A nod to our retired thigh-burning mogul competition, you’ll race across 100 feet of deep, muddy ditches under a barrage of snow guns. Try skipping peak-to-peak and risk falling into a wet muddy grave.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    THE SWEET SPOT

Four snow guns with high-powered fans concentrate their forces into a single wall you’ll have to break through. The only way through this watery hell is to run at the spot where all four guns connect, put your head down, and plow ahead.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    TARZAN SWING

This obstacle will have you swinging on a rope over a muddy mix you may never escape from if you don’t make it over.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    WARRIOR WALLS

Prepare yourself for a series of walls to climb over, each becoming more and more difficult to navigate.


Tough Mountain Challenge Course    O.U.T.

Over. Under. Through. And around.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    GREAT WALL

The last of the Warrior Walls is, you guessed it, the biggest and most difficult to pass.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course    HAUG AV SNO

Norwegian for “pile of snow.” That’s right, it’s July and we kept a pile of snow to help you beat the heat and cool down a bit.

Tough Mountain Challenge Course Tough Mountain Challenge Course    MUDDY BOBBER

Make like a bobber as you duck under water to pass below metal beams then pop up to take a breath between each one. Just don’t pop up too soon and crush your skull, or swallow any dirty water.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    WTF

Your back will ache, your legs will scream, and you’ll want to throw up as you push straight uphill to conquer the biggest obstacle in TMC. Remember, pain is just weakness leaving the body.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    TREE OF DEATH

The simplest obstacles sometimes pack the most punch.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    TUNNEL VISION

Crawling, so much crawling. Does it ever end?

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    SHOTGUN STATION

A TMC tradition, feel free to take a quick, mid-course break to shotgun a beer. It may not settle your stomach, but may help with pain management. Optional and 21+.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    WALL IN THE WOODS

Can’t go under it, can’t go through it, have to go over it. Survivor hint: if you’re going to tumble off the top lean uphill to stay away from the cliff on the downhill side.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    POND CROSSING

A new year means new obstacles to deal with as you make your way across the pond. If you can’t swim, grab a pfd on your way in.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    SHREDDER MUD CRAWL

After years of experimentation we’ve perfected our mud recipe to ensure you won’t be able to pass too quickly, and don’t forget about the razor-sharp barbed wire just above your back. Head down, and watch those ponytails.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    SNOW & STEADY

Slowly balance your way across snowmaking pipes over a very long and very dirty pond. Remember, mud makes everything slippery.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    SLIP, SLIDE & DIE

Longer, faster, and ribbed for your pleasure. This delightful obstacle is gravity-fed and deposits you into a pool with a mightly splash. Jump on and enjoy the ride.

Tought Mountain Challenge CourseTought Mountain Challenge Course    HAPPY ENDING

Finish as you started, with a quick hit of mud.

Beers at Tough Mountain Challenge

CHEERS!! From DD + Willow

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Tough Mountain Challenge




Florida born, Maine living. Outdoor life is for me. I love adventures - hiking -photography - running - camping - reading - creating - learning - traveling - deep eddy vodka - cats and living, basically. Follow me on social - @DanielleDorrie