Let me start by saying, if you are looking for my typical race review, well unfortunately you won’t find it for World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM). While I could spend time reviewing how great the obstacles are, or ripping Brady Archer for having about 25% of the obstacles put those who are on the shorter side at a distinct disadvantage. This wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if that meant failing four to five obstacles, but for a 5’5″ female contender this could mean failing 40-50 obstacles over 50 miles. Definitely a game changer. However, I digress. This write-up will be a lot like last year’s in that I prefer to reflect back on the weekend that was WTM 2015.
I always find it difficult to explain this event to those who haven’t been baptized by it and now see the light. This event is a race but it also much more. When you have a race that lasts such a long span of time you can almost get lost. The competition is such a grind that by the end you almost don’t give a rat’s ass if you finish 100th or 110th. This obviously excludes podium contenders, but understand your first goal is (or at least should be) to finish!!! Sure you might have a goal to do X mileage and you try to stay on pace for that but this event is all about the slow and steady. You have to push on through all kind of stuff that happens along the way. If you let any of these setbacks get in your head then they will likely defeat you. This is especially true with the knowledge that you have hours upon hours more of the cold, the water, and the fatigue ahead of you.
2015 was different from previous years in that I saw numerous WTM vets go down after only three or four laps due to their underestimating of the effects of the repeated trips in and out of the water as well as the early sunset. This year’s WTM averaged us being in and out of the water like every 15 minutes. This increased frequency proved to be the end of a lot of racers’ day very early. For those who were able to make it through and into the night which came quickly, we soon realized that Brady brought his A game when it came to designing what most agreed to be the toughest WTM course in its five year history. I guess it was to be expected since he had all stars like two time champ Ryan Atkins, two time OCRWC champion Jon Albon, Ultrademus, and many other greats on teams vying for a $100k prize.
In looking back at this year’s event from afar, it was a lot of the same for me. I completed similar mileage as in years’ past. I had to battle through minor injuries and setbacks. I fought off the cold as best I could with very little natural insulation to protect me. I did what WTMer’s do. I persevered! The WTMer’s is a 24 hour obstacle course racing (OCR). This statement is true. However, it is also much more than that as nearly all in attendance will attest. There is a lot of bullshit that comes along with this race that no one who hasn’t been here will every know about. All the prep work, all the gear that needs to be purchased, all the tactics that are discussed throughout the year. The setting up the pit, the shuttling of equipment in and out of the desert. However, this build up to and the sharing of these non-race experiences builds a bond between racers that can’t be explained to outsiders. There are not one but two major social media communities that exist purely to help prepare for this event. Friendships are sparked during these online discussions and then stoked once the event actually arrives. That’s part of what makes WTM so different from other events in OCR.
I have stated this many times before in my writings on the sport of OCR, the people in this sport are awesome. However, the group people that comes to the WTM are the tip of the spear when it comes to great people. This include the competitors, the pit crews, the families, and even the volunteers. Everyone supports everyone and lifts each other up even if it’s just for this one weekend. People like Matty Gregg who put together an awesome charity dinner and Eric Jenkins who added a charity comedy show to help Matty’s group raise like $84k for Wounded Warrior Project in 2015. People like Melissa “Sharkbait” Dugan who set up the Community dinner which saw over 300 people attend. Tough Mudder HQ even set up the post race brunch so we would have the opportunity to say post race goodbyes. WTM isn’t just a weekend event. It’s a reason for bunch of like minded crazies to get together and lift each other to our limits both individually and collectively.
A lot of people say to me “you did what?” Others say “I’d like to try that!” To the latter, I say to you, “you should do it. The race will challenge to your end. The people will inspire you like you wouldn’t believe. For sure, this event will change you. However, for all the hell you will experience you will find that you are not alone out there. You are never alone. Be careful with WTM for it will only leave longing for more! More of the mile, more or the obstacles, and most of all more of the people. WTMer’s are family!” I’ll see you in 2016, wherever it may… Maybe this time I’ll do the team thing?