One of the most uncomfortable obstacles I personally had to endure in Tough Mudder was the cage crawl, or more specially, it’s harder version: Rain man.
Prior to doing it, I had researched it a little bit in hopes of preparing the right way for it.
What is the difference between the cage crawl and rain man?
The cage crawl has you submerged in water with a fence over you. Only the front part of your face is above the water, leaving about a few inches at most for you to breath.
Then there’s rain man…the more advanced one for the “legionnaires”, one of the more “exciting” experiences in Tough Mudder.
It is the exact same obstacle with one thing added in:
Water is pouring over you in several areas as you drag yourself across the obstacle face up. I believe in my challenge it was 3 areas where water was pouring.
Does this one little addition to the obstacle make a big difference? YES.
In fact, if you don’t know how to handle this challenge, you may start panicking once the water hits your face and it may make you feel as though you’re drowning. That’s how I felt when I went through it.
Luckily, this wasn’t the first time I had this uncomfortable swimming experience so I was able to cross it, but it wasn’t pleasant and I will share tips with you on how to beat it.
Tips on getting through the cage crawl:
Know that it’s not deep! The cage crawl is honestly not scary at all. The water level is about 3-4 feet deep, but it is dirty and it can make you feel scared.
Your job is to crawl using your hands, but have your head be in front. My uncle did this challenge and basically tried pushing himself feet first. This was a mistake as it caused the water to basically push against his face. I yelled at him to turn around and he heard me halfway, did it and it became much easier for him to move.
You don’t need good grip to move along the fence, just a steady pace. Your body is floating the whole way so all your hands are doing is just moving it along the water. You don’t need too much strength for that especially once you start moving, it’s going to be a motion that will only keep increasing as long as your hands keep pushing your body to the end.
Tips on getting through rain man:
Apply all the same tips from cage crawl, but add this in:
Hold your breath when you reach the areas where the water pours on your face. Do NOT try to breath in these areas, it’s almost impossible and you’re going to feel as though you’re drowning. This is the moment where you’ll feel that panic attack. If you hold your breath when the water hits you, know you will only need to hold it for about 5 seconds or when you stop feeling the water hitting your face. When that happens, resume breathing.
Focus on the motion of your hands to be constantly moving along the fence and when the water hits, ignore it, focus on holding your breath and continuing to move. A lot of people underestimate what it’s like to be looking up and having water being splashed at you. It’s a very deceptively scary experience which is why you need to train yourself to be mentally ready to overcome it.
The entire obstacle takes about 15-30 seconds to cross. Just know that it’s very short and there’s always someone available for safety if you need help.
“Fortunately” I had a much scarier experience that helped me prepare for rain man:
So the scariest thing without a doubt is the water splashing your face making you feel like you’re drowning, but of all the things that I could have experienced that through, be it stormy seas, big waves, waterfalls, I experienced that sensation for the first time in my life in a water park.
While going into a looping tube that was very narrow, completely dark and very high up, I was asked to remove my shirt put it between my hands, cross them as well and head in to avoid friction in the tunnel and getting stuck.
So I went in without even expecting what would happen and then it did. Throughout the entire tube ride down, through the looping areas, there was a lot of splashing happening and a lot of water flying in my face over and over.
That was the first time I experienced that drowning feeling because every time I tried to take a breath, more water would splash at me, breaking my breath and causing me to lose it. The entire ride felt much longer as a result and I would say it lasted about 20 seconds, but it was absolute torture and I was completely out of breath when I came out of the tunnel.
That horrible experience actually prepared me very well for rain man because after the tube incident happened, I learned that in that moment, I had to do 2 things: Hold my breath and cover my face with my hands so there would be room to breath without water coming in.
I had similar experiences later (before Tough Mudder) where I tested this out and it ended up working, but a big factor was mentally gauging myself when it would happen so I would get scared.
So when you do cage crawl or rain man, know that while cage crawl is easy compared to the other, if you do rain man, remember that tip about holding your breath and keeping control.
Overall, this obstacle isn’t that difficult, it just tests you mentally so if you know about these precautions, you should be fine. And on race day, if you’re still not feeling that you can take on rain man, do cage crawl instead.
In some cases, people who can’t do either because they’re worried about swimming or not comfortable can avoid this obstacle. No one is going to force you to do obstacles in Tough Mudder.
I’ll say this, Tough Mudder has some truly creative obstacles, ones that I didn’t see in other events like the Spartan Race, but before you do an event near you, ALWAYS research the obstacles.