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The Tough Mudder Obstacle Design Challenge might only be in its second year of existence but the minds of Mudder Nation have never disappointed.
In 2017 the TMHQ obstacle team sifted through hundreds of brilliant, terrifying and just plain bizarre submissions and have crowned Kong 2.0 - Infinity their winner. We spoke to Ross Munro one half of the team behind the triumphant design (Jonny McDonald is his partner) to learn more about their Tough Mudder journey and the inspiration behind their creation.
How many Tough Mudders have you done and when is your next event?
I have currently completed 5 Tough Mudder events, mainly in Scotland. This includes the recent Tougher Mudder in Scotland followed by a second lap for fun, Europe's Toughest Mudder in the Midlands and soon to take on World's Toughest Mudder in November.
Jonny has completed 7 Tough Mudders, including winning Tougher Scotland and attending Toughest this year and World’s Toughest Mudder back in November 2016.
What has your experience of Tough Mudder events been like?
We first rocked up to Tough Mudder Scotland in 2013, with fear running through our veins - this was going to be the biggest physical task we had ever done, but with a 14 strong team we were good to go…Until that team became eight and split into two groups on course - but we cracked on regardless and had a blast.
Getting the taste for it, we started doing a lot more OCR events up and down the UK, trying to find the toughest challenges. Then Jonny started racing OCR events instead of just completing and we continued to return to Tough Mudder Scotland every year since (with Ross selfishly not coming to 2016 due to his wife having a baby), and racing other events we could find.
But Tough Mudder is where it all began for us, and as Jonny started racing more we were looking for a mix of competitiveness and challenges. IWe decided to bite the bullet and commit to WTM '16. With Ross as pit crew and Jonny primed for the course we entered the competitive side of Tough Mudder for the first time.
That was November, and since then we have both completed Tougher Mudder Scotland, both completed Europe's Toughest Mudder, both volunteered at Tough Mudder Midlands and Scotland and are both signed up to World’s Toughest Mudder 2017. Did someone say Holy Grail? We loved Tough Mudder in its original format for the community spirit that you just don’t get anywhere else, but now with the competitive edge and epic builds Tough Mudder has pretty much become our lives for 2017.
Where did the inspiration for Kong 2.0 - Infinity come from?
Funky Monkey 2.0 and revolution. I wanted to improve on an already demanding obstacle in keeping with Tough Mudder's innovation of obstacles.
While at Tough Mudder Scotland volunteering with no runners on site, I watched the rings on Kong swing about in the wind. I had learned at other events last year that if someone clears a ring the ring is left hanging dead due to where people let go. But if people fall the last ring they use swings wildly, and this was the same when I arrived back at Kong later in the day. So as Tough Mudder has been pushing the competitive aspect this year, it made sense that the obstacle should be standardised, but in keeping with the Tough Mudder vibe it would need to be more epic if we were to redesign it.
How do you envision the obstacle working at future events?
At events the obstacle will need to be robust and big for it to work, hence us entering your competition; it’s not something we could build.
The idea is that the incline acts as a fear factor, not really making the obstacle much more difficult than it would be on a flat track, as it will be a small incline, but enough to put it in your head that you're rolling the barrel up the hill.
The rings are spaced to ensure that it’s impossible to grab two rings ahead, leaving everyone the same number of holds to grab and same distance to roll.
It's probably best designed as a legionnaire obstacle in the event village, due to the build being big - it would be a shame to hide it away.
What do you hope to see from the Tough Mudder Obstacle Team?
For this beast to come alive as bigger and better than we could ever imagine.