I’ll tell you a story of my solution to one of the Tough Mudder obstacles. You tell me if you think I cheated or improvised an out of the box solution. I promise my feelings will not be hurt either way.

So one of the obstacles on yesterday’s Tough Mudder was called “Just the Tip.” These were roughly 15/16 foot high walls that spanned a pool of water, probably 3-4 feet deep and probably went 20 feet across.

There were two by fours mounted horizontally across the wall with 1 x 4 spacers mounted behind them so that the 2 x 4s stuck out slightly off the wall.

At the start of the wall, these were mounted at foot height and roughly eye level so that you had foot and hand holds. Once you shimmied out over the water though, the lower boards disappeared so that an athlete only had hand holds to grip. The intent of the exercise being hold on with your hands and shuffle your feet along the vertical surface of the muddy slick plywood wall. You essentially were expected to ‘spider man’ your way across.

As I waited in the queue to take my turn I realized that with the way the wall was constructed with a little bit of effort it would be possible to scale to the very top of the wall. Then I could use the top of the wall for hand holds and the rail that was intended to be a hand rail as a foot rail. I mentioned this to my team mate Nat and I told him, “Adapt and overcome right? I’m gonna go for it.” So I did.

I stepped up to the wall, scaled straight to the top and then shimmied across. About halfway there I overheard someone in the line behind me shouting, “Hey! That guy’s cheating!”

I looked back and called out, “Didn’t you listen to the safety briefing at the start line? The man clearly said ‘work smarter, not harder.’ ” And that’s absolutely true. The ‘host’ who primes the group and delivers the course safety briefing reinforces that idea using those exact words more than once.

When I climbed down the far side on dry land I was immediately met by a range safety volunteer who got very close and personal and in no uncertain terms told me, “Let’s not have any more cheating out here today, all right?”

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Yes, sir.” After our full team reached the far side, we regrouped and went on our way to complete the course.

Looking back at it now, while I still contend my technique was more secure and therefore better for me, the reality is I was 16 ft up. If made a misstep and fell, there was only 3-4 feet of water in that pool. The results could have been catastrophic.

So, let’s put it to the group. Did I cheat or did I adapt and overcome with a creative solution? I know what I think, but I’m curious to hear folks’ thoughts.

 

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