Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It Was a Tough Mudder

Haven't heard of a Tough Mudder?  

My boys hadn't heard of a Tough Mudder either until I suggested we do one for Hyurm's sixth birthday--a modified Tough Mudder, one without plunging into ice pits or running through fire or crawling under electrified barbed wire.  A version suitable for kindergartners.  Was I a touch crazy? Yes, but the boys LOVED LOVED LOVED it.

I plotted out an obstacle course around our house, ran the hose in Brad's empty garden bed for 24 solid hours, and enlisted the help of my two favorite Kiwis. James and his friend Karly were more than willing to tie climbing ropes, to wrap caution tape, and especially to prepare a giant mud pit for the event.

I advised moms in advance to have the boys wear swimsuits but I didn't want to ruin anyone's shirts, so I bought a couple packages of white undershirts and let the boys decorate the clean white shirts with bib numbers and any tough names they wanted to use. (Can I just say right here how thankful I was to have the two big boys around to help?  They were indispensable for the next hour.  They are awesome!)

One of the rules of a Tough Mudder is that it's not a race.  It doesn't matter who wins.  What does matter is that we cheer on our friends and help them when something is hard for them, and I took five minutes to explain this rule to this group of uber-competitive boys.  I wanted them to completely understand that we were going to have fun--not compete.  It took a few serious words from me for them to understand that I really meant it--that this would be HARD but it would be FUN, especially if they didn't race and they beat the course together.

We began climbing the rock wall in the basement, then after running around the house, the boys encountered their first obstacle--a caution tape maze with an overhead waterfall.  It was funny to listen to the boys as they got wet for the first time that afternoon--"oooh, I don't want to get wet."
Just wait till you see the mud pit, guys!

After tromping through a puddle, they all had to scale the back fence using this rope.

It was harder than I thought for them, but luckily Brad was on one side of the fence and Karly was on the other to help them.
 In order to keep them all together as much as possible, I set up an aid station after climbing the fence for them to drink some Gatorade and have Clif shots like real athletes. 
Amazing the power of Gatorade.  Some of the boys wouldn't let go of that twelve-ounce bottle for the rest of the afternoon!

Then, it was time for mud.

The boys started out a little hesitant to get down and dirty, not knowing what to do with a giant mud pit filled with obstacles.

Some never really got into the whole mud thing, opting to stay as clean as possible.

Some were brave from the beginning, and their bravery spurred the others on to testosterone-laced displays of skill of their own.

There were face plants

and cannon balls

 with accompanying cheers from the crowd
and fierce faces.
They got muddier and muddier each time they passed through (most did the mud pit three times).

 Next was a squirt gun shoot, a place where I thought the boys might want to clean off a little bit as they tried to tear the tissue-paper targets with their water streams.

I was wrong about that.

They slam-dunked basketballs

 (kinda) before they ran through a crazy sprinkler
. . . on their way to the ropes suspended from the front porch.
 This was harder for them than I thought it would be
 but they didn't give up
and they didn't get clean, either.
The final obstacle was a tunnel that didn't stand up to their exuberance, but they made it out the other side and ran back through the caution tape and into the back yard.
THE FINISH LINE!  I instructed them to remove their previously white shirts and I unceremoniously squirted them mostly clean with the hose before allowing them to jump into the pool with their squirt guns for a little while.  

Before they left, I tied up their muddy shirts in a bag and gave them each a squirt gun to take home.  As the party was ending, one of Hyrum's friends came up to be and squealed, "This was the funnest party EVER!!" 
All told, this Tough Mudder took about forty minutes.  I planned less running and more obstacles since the boys were small, but we ended up eliminating a few of the obstacles altogether because they were little and not quite as strong as I thought. What did surprise me is how patiently they waited their turns at the obstacles, how they cheered and laughed together, and how the course never dissolved into a competition.  That made for a really fun afternoon.

If I were to do it again, I would reserve many of the activities (like scaling the wall and climbing the ropes) for older boys--9+.  Even though the littler boys enjoyed the ropes, they needed a lot of assistance to complete the task. The squirt guns and the basketball dunk and the tunnel and the caution tape and the aid station and especially THE MUD--yeah.  We'd do all that again.


Happy Birthday, Hyrum! We love having your muddy little self in our family!

Last year I wrote about each of my children's birth stories for their birthdays.  You can read Hyrum's story here.


  1. Ok, hands down.....COOLEST MOM EVER! What a FUN party! Love how you had a talk with them about it not being a competition...and love even more that they followed through with that. (Those of us with boys know this is no easy task...as everything is a competition with them!) Your pictures are awesome...you should make Hyrum a little photo book of his party!
    Happy Birthday Hyrum!

  2. I agree with Kerri! you rock!

    but the question is...how did the tub look after baths that night? bhahahaha

  3. You Win! That is handsdown the best idea for a lil boy's bday party!

  4. This is so awesome! I am in love with this idea! Happy spring!

  5. What a GREAT idea! Makes me wish I could have a do-over for my boys' birthdays!

  6. I can just picture this! How fun, and I am amazed those boys managed to maintain a friendly attitude, I know them too well!

  7. Ok, so that doesn't sound very nice....I only meant I know how much they love to compete and WIN!

  8. That is CRAZY fun. My son would have LOVED to come to that party! You Rock!

  9. My boys would have been in raptures over a party like this one. Very cool!


  10. that is the coolest party i have ever seen!!!! brennan covets.

  11. Okay that party is beyond awesome!! What a fun memory for the boys, seriously so cool!

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