A significant percentage of our Tough Mudder teammates confessed to the group that their biggest fear was Arctic Enema, an obstacle aptly named for the way each person has to slide down between a chainlink fence and a slanted board, then drop into a giant container full of ice and water. Once in the water, they must get themselves over the top of a wall and drop into another tank full of water and ice before they can finally make their way to the other end and exit.
I wasn’t too worried about it. I’ve done the Arctic Enema twice now, and it really isn’t that bad for most people. I just love that kind of stuff because of how much people fear it their first time through. At the end of the day, our fears are usually irrational, and Tough Mudder has an incredible way of proving that to each person in whatever way they need it most.
It also has an incredible way of humbling you when you don’t fear something, as I would soon find out.
Two by two our teammates slid into the icy water and emerged from the other side. There was lots of cringing, lots of laughing, and lots of the funniest dang faces you’ve ever seen in your life; faces that said, “I just got an ice cube stuck up my ass, but I’m not going to admit that, so I’m just gonna stand here and let it melt.”
After lots of that, it was eventually time for us to get through the Arctic Enema with Lieutenant Dan.
With our help, Dan got into position, and Rick and I sat beside him.
But we wouldn’t slide down with Lieutenant Dan. SPLOOSH. Rick and I slid into the ice water. We went first to get ourselves into position on the other side of the first wall.
The ice couldn’t matter at that moment. The cold couldn’t matter. Speed couldn’t matter. Getting Dan through safely and without injury was all we could permit ourselves to think about.
Mark, Kurt, and Dan were right behind us. Kris came down last to lend a hand with Dan who was already halfway over that first wall. Together, we all patiently (though our faces didn’t show it) made it to the other side.
And let me tell you…
I don’t know how it was for those other five guys, but I now know that The Arctic Enema is a whole different beast when you just have to patiently stand in it.
It feels like a thousand daggers stabbing you in the legs repeatedly.
You begin to shake and tremble.
The back of your neck tenses and your spine stiffens.
Your muscles start screaming at you to GET MOVING.
And, how do I put this? Things didn’t just shrink, friends. They straight-up disappeared. “We’re outta here, pal! You’re on your own!”
Did I just say that? Hm. I guess I did.
Anyway… It was cold. That’s all that matters. SO cold.
I honestly don’t know if it was 30 seconds or five minutes that we were in those tanks full of water. I just know that when we all got out safely on the other end, I didn’t really mind at all. Some things are just bigger than agony or discomfort or warmth. And pretty much anything was bigger than, oh… never mind. I’ve already pushed that joke limit, haven’t I…
After that, I watched as the rest of my teammates made it through. I laughed at more of the amazing ice-cube-in-the-butt faces. And I motioned for the team to get moving once more.
Next up were the “Berlin Walls.” Two walls at least 9 or 10 feet high, and almost no one gets over them without a helping hand.
Strangely, it never occurred to me just how scary those things were to some of the people on our team until they told me later. On this one, we didn’t wait for teammates to hmm and haw. One at a time we boosted every teammate over. Two people sat stationed up top to help pull them up. They came down the other side into the arms of other eagerly awaiting teammates. And it went fairly flawlessly the entire time.
Eh. I take that back. Things actually got a little bit sketchy on wall number two when two Mudders from another team got over-anxious about jumping to and help Dan over the wall that they pushed him to start doing it before the rest of us had gotten there.