Here I am again; another year later and another World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) completed. I have participated in five of the six WTM’s and it never really gets old. Great times with awesome people and a truly Epic event to remember! Family and friends keep asking me, “why do you keep going back?” The answer to this I have found to be many things. In my 2014 recap, I spoke at length about the community of people and how great it is to be apart of this group. This collective group of people are one of the things that makes WTM so special. Last year so many of these friends went down with hypothermia at not only WTM but also the Spartan World Championships and the OCR World Championships (OCRWC) that it compelled my to invent the Neptune Thermoregulation System as a means of prevention. The rollout of my new product and the various changes that TMHQ made, combined with much warmer weather made the 2016 WTM a very different race for me than any of the past four I’ve done.
I first have the confession to make. I was much less focused on this event leading up to the race and probably didn’t participate in the community discussion as much as I should have. I am also no longer intimidated by WTM… Which may not be a good thing, but until we see a new location this will probably not change. Call me a crusty old veteran if you want. I’m ok with that . This is not to say that I took the race lightly but it just didn’t have my entire focus. I was, however, set on one thing; reaching 70 miles and qualifying for the “Pro” division at the 2017 OCRWC. Once I participated in that division this year, I made it my priority to be in that wave again next year, and WTM presented a great opportunity to qualify for it.
Before I get into my race experience, I do want to acknowledge the changes TMHQ made in the registration process. In my opinion, everything went perfect. This is not something that can usually be said in the sport of obstacle racing, but for company that doesn’t put on “races” Tough Mudder has it down. This includes how to run a race that flows, but I will get this in a moment. I found the entire process from start to finish to have run so smoothly that none of us who are vets and have seen how things have gone in the past could believe it. Whether is be the fact HQ was being scrutinized under the watchful eye of CBS cameras or whatever but HQ hit the nail on the head this year from registration to the post race brunch.
Now onto the actual race. First off, let me say that a lot of people are going to disagree with my assessment of this, but guess what… I don’t give a shit! I have been in this fight for five years now, so if you are a rookie then I don’t care if you disagree because you don’t know what you don’t know. I feel like I should be writing this for ORM because I have a feel there will be controversy here though that isn’t my intent. All you sensitive types out there, buckle your chin straps, because these truths may hurt a bit.
This was unequivocally the EASIEST WTM to date! I can see the comments now, “why didn’t you run harder then,” and “you didn’t give it your all then.” To those who feel that way… you don’t know me! I give everything I have every time! In fact, I reached my 70 mile goal (15 more miles than I have ever achieved before). I was also out there until the final bell, and finished with only a few minutes of extended time to spare while pressing the clock most of my last two laps. This, however, is not what I’m talking about, so let me clear up few things before I defend my position on the “Easiest” claim.
1. TMHQ created a fast course ON PURPOSED. This was for a multitude of reasons and I agree with these changes. The fast course makes for better TV. It makes for better competition, as well as gives more teams a shot at the $100k which also makes for good TV.
2. TMHQ limited the number of times we got wet on purpose (in my opinion). I’m sorry for all you who were injured at the Kong airbag or took an awkward spill at Double Rainbow but HQ couldn’t plan for warm weather and they needed to keep as many people on course as possible… again because this event is going to be televised.
3. TMHQ did an awesome job with the course design. It was hard on the upper body but they made changes throughout to keep the obstacles doable for people even through the night. Again I feel they were trying to keep people out there through the night when the course is normally ghost town.
Now that we are all clear on the fact that the above changes were a part of the plan, let me get on with my claim. TMHQ made all of these changes to make WTM more marketable. I completely understand this. Showing the complete sufferfests that 2011-2015 were (2013 was warmer and not as bad as the other years) will do a lot for showing how badass we all are but that will do more to scare prospective racers and entice them. 2016 WTM was about bringing in an entire new group to party. The 2017 Toughest Mudders are about preparing those people for our little soiree. They don’t want 1,000 rookies out there on course at the 2017 WTM, once again on camera, and having 3/4ths of them dropping out because they underestimate this whole thing.
When you take all of the above into account and then add in what HQ had zero control over, much warmer weather, and you have basically the “perfect storm.” That is an event where max mileages would be attained and where there would be minimal carnage on the course. Don’t get me wrong, this is still WTM. There were still thermoregulation issues. There were still numerous injuries on course, and there were still a lot of people out there killing themselves during the race. However, as an overall, in my opinion achieving your goal at this race was much easier than it has ever been in the past.
Anyway I digress. I am not disparaging anyone for their efforts out there because you all are “Freaking awesome!” I am so very proud to have been out there with you. In addition, I take a lot of pride in the 70 miles that I was able to attain this year! However, I will take home a few other things from WTM 2016. First, that in 2017 I need to make a better effort to race with more the people that make this event so great. This year I was able to run a couple of laps with Kristy McBride, and then finish the race with Evan Perperis, but many of the others I saw were only in passing . I also learned this about why I keep coming back to WTM… To me this event is, in fact, more than the people or the epic obstacles, it is about perseverance. It is about the grind for me. I need to feel like I have accomplished more than just completing a race. I need the suffering because surviving that is it’s own reward!
Congratulations to all who participated in WTM 2016. I hope you found what YOU were looking for! I also hope that we will see you again in 2017 for a whole new round of fun!
Jason “Science” Rulo