TMHQ Obstacle Insights: Top 5 Tips for Surmounting Pyramid Scheme

Published on July 21, 2014 by Meredith Frame

You’re running. Maybe it’s mile seven. You see Mudders climbing on top of and over each other  as you approach what looks like Everest turned inside-out. Mud is splattered everywhere, and people are slipping and gripping each other trying to get to the top. It looks like a pile of giant ants.

This is Pyramid Scheme, one of our new 2014 obstacles, where your teammates and other Mudders are the most important asset you’ve got. Like the unsustainable business model it was named after, you’re going to have to take advantage of those around you to succeed.

With that in mind, here are our top five tips to conquer Tough Mudder’s Pyramid Scheme:

Don’t be shy

Let’s not mince words here: you will be touching people - more so than with other obstacles. You’ll be climbing them, grabbing them (appropriately, of course) and generally interacting with your fellow Mudders in ways you’d normally never do with a stranger. Just make your peace with it now. We’d actually argue that this is one of the most team-centric obstacles out there, and Mudders like this one because it’s so primal and raw. However, remember to grab but not grope. No one likes a creeper.

Form a solid base

The same rule that applies to drinking applies to Pyramid Scheme: you’d better prepare a good, solid base before you start. You want your biggest, strongest teammates standing at the bottom; they need shoulders that can take the weight of two or more people. Then you want a person standing on top of them, pulling people up. Think of the base as the first rung of a ladder and the second person as the step on the top of the ladder. Use one really strong person or two people standing shoulder to shoulder so the next person up can stand on one of each of their shoulders.

Get creative

Whether you form a human chain, a human tower or a human pyramid, your Pyramid Scheme-conquering method is up to you and your teammates. One thing that’s not up for discussion: when you get to the top, help another Mudder if you see one who needs a pull up. What will your Pyramid Scheme strategy be? Plan ahead and start thinking about who on your team should be the base and who will climb up first. (Fun fact: Pyramid Scheme’s original name was Human Pyramid.)

Get a grip

Like overcoming Everest, this obstacle is just as much about Mudders pulling you up as it is about you using your own strength to get up and over. Make eye contact with the person or people whose hands you’re reaching for. A good solid grip under the armpits also works. And unlike Everest, you have the added advantage of being able to push off the shoulders of the person you’re standing on. Lucky for you, not so lucky for them. But hey, that’s what they signed up for. You’ll buy them a beer later.  

Don’t be a hero

If there’s one obstacle that screams “there’s no ‘I’ in Mudder,” it’s Pyramid Scheme. Of course you could try to run up it and claw your way to the top on your own. But that’s exactly what you’d be doing - clawing your way to the top - and there’s no glory in that. On the contrary, this obstacle is about bringing you and your team together. Some of your most memorable Mudder memories are bound to happen at Pyramid Scheme.

The bottom line: Pyramid Scheme is the ultimate team-building obstacle that requires as much strength as it does strategy. Get the whole team up it, and you’ve got a bar story that’ll never get old.