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Tough Mudder unveils all new obstacles

Beta testers learned to rely on teammates to survive Hold Your Wood 2.0. (Tough Mudder)
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Tough Mudder has set the running world on fire. Since 2010, 1.5 million people have tackled its grueling obstacle courses, each of which spans 10-12 miles and requires traversing terrain filled with flames, mud and live wires.

The only problem for the company? It’s hard to shock returning participants with an identical lineup of obstacles — no matter how much you boost the voltage.

So for 2015, Tough Mudder’s lead obstacle designer, Nolan Kombol, is unveiling a new slate of surprises. “It’s a different beast,” promises Kombol, who’s spent the past 12 months refining the concepts that folks will face at events across the country. (The next one in our area is slated for June 13 and 14 in Doswell, Va.)

They don’t need to prepare for a more difficult course, Kombol says, but they should expect more of the stuff Tough Mudder is known for. Those live wires, for instance, are there for a specific reason: “to create fear.” And he’s always looking for ways to force teams to work together, he adds. Here’s a preview of three obstacles:

King of the Swingers. In the initial testing phase, Kombol wanted to create a pole vaulting-based obstacle. But when every single person who tried it fell — “including me,” Kombol admits —  a rope swing seemed like a wiser choice. The stop is still plenty difficult, says Kombol, noting that you only get one chance to hit a bell while flying on a 15-foot rope.

The Liberator. With pegs and a series of holes, you need to scale a near-vertical 12-foot wall, Kombol says. That’ll take muscles most people don’t use much, unless they’re rock climbers. If you don’t have a wall to practice on, Kombol suggests spending extra training time doing pullups.

Hold Your Wood 2.0. In the previous version of this log-carrying obstacle, it was possible for individuals to haul the weight. Now that each log is 150-200 pounds, you’d better get teammates involved, Kombol says. Simply coordinating how to lift a log up, move it and put it down demands good communication. So you’ll need to be on the same page to carry one over a wall, under a wall and through a gap in a wall.

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