World’s Toughest Mudder – November 14th & 15th 2015
By Walter F Hendrick (OCRSandy)
This was my first World’s Toughest Mudder and I had never attempted a 24 hour race and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I went with a plan to be broken and find a way to continue on and not quit or be disqualified.
• Race MC’s:
• The Course:
The first hour on the course started with all obstacles closed, so this allowed racers a chance to get a few easier miles out of the way and also see the majority of the obstacles to get an idea what each one was all about.
The first obstacle on the course was “Everest”, which offered both versions 2.0 and 1.0 and also a penalty option for those that didn’t complete either version. The 1.0 version had a penalty loop that was shorter than the penalty loop for not getting up either version. The loop for not getting up either version also had a modified version of “Birth Canal” that racers had to do. Only a short distance ahead was the next obstacle “Whale’s Turd” which started out with swimming in water and then racers had to climb up a rope net that was attached to a multi-level, floating on the water, airbag. This was a pretty good challenge, but the obstacle didn’t last long and ended up being deflated and ended up just being a short swim in water from laps # 4 and forward. I am sure most racers didn’t shed a tear about this, lol. The course continued for a short sprint and the next obstacle was “Hydroplane” which was a series of three gym mats daisy chained together and floating on top of the water. The objective was to run across the three mats without falling in the water. What I found worked best with this one was to stay dead in the middle of the mats and take well thought out steps. I was able to make it across the first two mats on most laps, but ended up crawling across the third mat most of my laps.
At this point, the course had another brief sprint and made its way to “The Liberator”, which I have seen several times this year at my other Tough Mudder races, I could be wrong, but this version seemed to have a more aggressive angle to it which made it a little more challenging than my other Tough Mudder events. The course continued on for a brief sprint and up next was “Abseil” which was a rope climb/rappel down a side of a not that high up cliff. Just a few hundred feet after was the next obstacle “The Gamble”, which was a Las Vegas themed obstacle. The obstacle offered six options and racers had to roll a six sided dice to decide which obstacle they had to complete. The obstacle options were: option 1: a high wall with a rope to climb over, I have to be honest, I never rolled this obstacle so I didn’t ever get a good look at it. Option 2: was a high 12 foot wall (with no rope) to climb up and back down, I also didn’t roll this obstacle so I never got a good look at it either. Option 3: was an inverted wall that included the kind of handrails you see installed in showers and in my opinion, this was the easiest option of the six (I only rolled this obstacle one time). Option 4: was another inverted wall, but this time without the handrails and in my opinion, this was the second easiest of options (I rolled this obstacle once). Option 5: was another 12 foot wall (without ropes) to climb up and back down and this was, in my opinion, the hardest of the options I rolled (I rolled this one four times). The final option 6: was another high wall with a rope to climb up and over and I rolled this on my last lap and was able to get up and over it with no problems (I only rolled it that one time). I found this obstacle to be both very challenging and fun based on having to roll a dice and learn your fate.
After another brief sprint, the course came to “Vertigo” which was a climb up a wooden ladder and then a short balance beam crossing. I watched someone fall off the balance beam and break their ankle on lap # 2, so this obstacle was one that I made sure to not rush at. The next obstacle on the course was “Operation”, which was basically a larger version of the children’s game Operation with a major twist, racers got zapped/electrocuted. The object of this obstacle was to stand in water that wasn’t even ankle deep, and take a metal pole and place it through a circular hole and then hook a glowing ring and remove the pole without the ring falling off. The circular hole was wrapped in tin and if the pole touched the sides the racer would get zapped/electrocuted. I wasn’t that good at this one, as I was seeing double most of the night and day and only completed it I think three times. I also for some reason on my first attempt was getting zapped when the two racers next to me got zapped, which wasn’t so much fun. The next obstacle was “Tight Fit” which was a crawl under a cargo rope net, with larger truck tires and this wasn’t bad if you arrived with others and used team work. The course had another brief sprint and came to “Grease Monkey”, which started out with a monkey bars going up and then segued to a black plastic drainage pipe that racers had to get into and then pull themselves down. At this point of my race season, I didn’t expect to do well at this one after lap 2 or 3, but I am happy to say I was able to do this one all but once the whole time.
The next obstacle “Statue of Liberty” was a water crossing and when nightfall came, racers had to carry a flame torch across with them without it going out. I am not sure why, but the torches didn’t last the entire night and I only had to carry them for two of the night laps. A short distance ahead was “Gut Buster”, which had an angled wall on one side for racers feet and then metal poles spaced out on the other side for racers hands. This obstacle was no joke and especially difficult for shorter racers. A short distance later came “Hump Chunk” which started with a short walk through not even knee deep water and then jumping onto a floating platform and then a decent distance swim to an angled and a very slick wall to climb up and over. I have to be straight up about this obstacle, I ran this race solo so I relied a lot on getting to this point when other racers did as well and each and every time I was helped (and helped) racers to get up and over this angled wall. The next obstacle up was “Upper Decker” which initially started out as a water entry and having to climb up a rope that included two monkey rings and then segued into a black drainage pipe and then crawl down to a barbed wire crawl. I was fine with this one, as I used my rope climbing technique to get up to the drainage pipe, but I remember thinking this was going to be a hard obstacle come later in the late night and it was an obstacle that had to be completed. I guess other racers had problems with this one, because it didn’t take long for HQ to change the obstacles direction.
Just after Upper Decker was the first and only water and porta pottie stations and then the course continued and eventually came to the next obstacle “King of the Swingers”, which had been at almost every Tough Mudder event I ran this year. Successfully completing this obstacle by ringing the bell came with a reward of a golden carabiner that could be given to a volunteer at one of the following obstacles “Grease Monkey”, “Gut Buster”, “Operation”, or “Tramp Stamp” and bypass one of these obstacles. HQ kept tight records of who earned these carabiners to make sure they were only redeemed by the racers that earned them. A short sprint ahead was “Kiss of the Mud 2.0”, which left most of us racers covered in a lot of mud after crawling under barbed wire and over a hay bale about halfway through the obstacle. At this point was a brief trail sprint and the course made its way to “Roll the Dice”, which was a series of three massive four sided wooden floating and rotating obstacles to get over by a combination of teamwork to get each one rotating and then hold on to and climb up and over while they rotated and made it an easier challenge. Running the course solo, this was another obstacle you wanted to make sure when you got to it and entered the cold water you had other racers around at the same time to help get over all three of the challenges and then out of the water. On one of my late night laps, I actually received help and worked with Ryan Atkins and Jonathan Albon’s team Synergy to complete this obstacle.
At this point, the last few obstacles were spread out over a mile plus of the course and the next obstacle on the course was “Tramp Stamp”, which started with a jump onto a trampoline and then grabbing a metal handles that then slid across a four and half foot body of water and racers had to slide across the water and land on dry land to successfully complete this obstacle. I couldn’t get enough air on this one to even reach the rings and had to take the penalty each and every time. After another trail sprint that went both up and down in the desert, the course came to a short hill descent that had ropes to assist with getting down and just after was the obstacle “Royal Flush”, which started with an entry into waste deep water and then we had to climb up a vertical black drainage pipe that had water showering from the top of the pipes and into racers faces near the top. I designed something a while back very similar to this obstacle, so I loved this one all race.
The next obstacle was only (at least for me) part of the course for my first few laps “Mud Mile”, which wasn’t near as bad as some of the other Mud miles I have done at other Tough Mudder racers. Early on the far left of Mud Mile was a straight run through the obstacle without having to get in almost any of the ditches and a lot of racers opted for this easy option. On the last lap I attempted this obstacle, HQ figured out racers were taking the easy path, so they adjusted the out of bounds tape lines on the left to force racers to have to enter each ditch. At Midnight and forward the course changed and racers made their way to “The Cliff”, which was my favorite challenge of the course. I won’t lie, I have done many high cliff jumps over the years and was mega excited about this one, but the first time I was at the edge of the cliff and looked over, I had a brief moment of fear and I had to take a step back and collect my thoughts. I let, I think, two racers cut me in the line and then went back up and jumped off no problem. I had a lot of a fun in this one and on my last jump, I stayed under way longer than I should have and swam over half the distance to the climb out before coming up. I got a few dirty looks from the safety divers and lifeguards, but as life always does, I realized my green waterproof MP3 player came off my hydration pack and was floating somewhere in the water. I was able to spot it pretty fast and had to swim back towards the cliff to retrieve it.
After climbing up a rope net draped over the cliff exiting the water, the course had a very short sprint to the finish line and completion of the toughest challenge I had completed to date.
• My Struggles:
I didn’t bring a wet suit with me, as someone told me they had one I could use. What I ended up wearing for my third lap was a half wet suit that wasn’t in the greatest condition and didn’t fit me snug at all, so I wasn’t able to generate a layer of water that warmed my body up. I struggled to complete lap three in this wet suit and when I finished the lap, I had to literally flirt borderline inappropriate with the nurse doing medical assessments to convince her I was good to go. I went back to the Orphan tent that I was using and one of the other racers also using the tent offered to let me wear his half wet suite that fit me perfect. I went back out for lap four and I felt great and was fine for the entire lap. I came in after completing lap four and went and checked in with the Orphan tent and told them I was in great shape now and not that cold much at all, I went out and was doing awesome on lap five for the first two miles, but then out of nowhere the temperature seemed to drop a lot and I was freezing and struggling again. I struggled for most of the last three miles on lap five and I had to lie to every volunteer and staff member when they asked if I was okay to not get DQ’d. I made it trough the lap and I remember from the moment I entered the water after the Cliff Jump, I had to put on my best poker face when I finished the lap to convince the staff I was okay to continue. I came in and blew a kiss at the nurse and gave her a wink and said I am fine and made my way right over to the Orphan tent. With assistance from one of the pit-crew Justin, I got most of my wet gear off and then went into a black fishing tent and tried to warm up. I couldn’t warm up at first and started to shake violently and uncontrollably for almost an hour and I was broken. I actually wrote on my Facebook page I was in struggling and in trouble and feeling like a failure, which brought a response from so many of my friends that they believed in me and that I wasn’t a failure. I had to wait for the sun to rise and then I started to warm up, I got myself back in my gear and I thought I was ready to go back out (just after the sun came up) and was about to go back out for another lap. What I didn’t know was I was still not near ready and I was slurring everything I said. The head of the Orphan tent Traci Watson, got in my face and started yelling at me that if I went out now I wouldn’t make it another lap and would be disqualified and would fail. I didn’t want to fail and I didn’t want to be yelled at by Traci, so I listened and waited about thirty more minutes before I went back out for lap six. Once I went back out, I really didn’t have many eventful moments and I was able to just continue on and complete a total of eight laps, which was my original goal, but I really wanted to get ten laps completed.
• The Orphan Tent:
I can’t go without mentioning the Orphan Tent and the amazing job that Traci Watson and her group of pit-crew that helped us racers all race long. Having strangers encourage you and literally bear hug you to help you warm back up was amazing and I truly admire and love these people. I want to say Thank you one more time.
• Overall Feelings and Event Rating:
A race like this isn’t for everyone and I we all do something like this for our own reasons. For me, it was to be broken and find a way to overcome that and not quit. I didn’t plan on my issues with the wet suits, but they were a major factor with why I ended up getting full blown hypothermia and having to face my demons and overcome them. I wouldn’t change anything now that it’s over and am so happy with my performance.
This was an amazing experience and race and I am rating it a 5 out of 5 stars. My plan is to race it again next year, but this time bring the right wet suits (lol).