So let me start this off by saying that I’m writing this because I am a coach and a co owner of our gym and that it probably has some good learning points and I am not writing it as an account of how cool I think we are. So with that, on to the race.
The Worlds Toughest Mudder (WTM) is max laps on a 5 mile course over 24 hours.The 5 mile course held 22 obstacles. The obstacles were unknown before the start. I can’t remember all of them but here is a short synopsis of those that I can remeber:
Mud wall/water crossing: this one sucked. It was 10ish 5-6 foot walls of mud with 3 ft of mud/water between them. It was not physically difficult but it was the first obstacle and it ensured that you started your lap wet, cold and with shoes full of mud and sand.
A frame up and over: Go up a 12 foot A frame with the assistance of a rope and then back down. Sounds easy until it’s 2am and the walls and rope are slick with mud.
Up and down a half mile of moto cross track.
Low crawl under barbed wire 25m in 4 inches of mud.
Up and over two walls angled AT you that were 7ft tall.
Carry a tire 200
Side to side hop over water like Ninja Warrior
Walk a 20ft 3inch wide plank over water.
Cross a wall using fingertips and toes.
Crawl through a 18 inch culvert, 10 ft long then up a 10 ft wall then down a cargo net. By the end crawling through the culvert took a heavy toll on the knees.
Bent over walk up a hill under a giant net. Not hard until we all started experiencing abdominal cramps.
Jump for life: basically go up a 20 ft wall then jump off a platform to an angled cargo net that had a pad on it on the other side. The landing was 10ft down and 10 ft away. If you missed you landed in water and then had a 1/4 mile penalty run.
Crawl up a 18inch culvert 20 ft on a 45 degree angle and then slide back down another one
Cross a moat via 7 rings. This was easy until they got wet
Cross 20 monkey bars over water. The bars went up then down. Also got hard when wet.
Electro shock. They had a question. Right answer was no shock. Wrong answer was a 30 ft crawl through randomly shocking wires. On one I got shocked 15 times during the trip through…I yelled F%#K You every time I got zapped. This was bad. We had a serious phobia afterwards of this obstacle
Pad crossing: cross a 100ft pond on 4 foot inflated doughnuts
More walls: 2 walls 12 feet tall. Not hard until our knees were destroyed and the landing became brutal
Everest: This is the curved 15-20 ft tall wall that is similar to a quarter pipe. Once it got wet and you were smoked it got very hard to get the boost of energy needed to get over
I can’t remember the rest but mostly it was wet, muddy and long.
Now on to our team. In addition to myself we had Don, Ken and PJ. The three of them won the Spartan Ultra Beast last year and the Death Race this year. Don is an old friend, a ski guide and owner of CrossFit Burnaby. Ken is director of Executive Athletes and is ornery, tough and motivated to win. PJ is a PE teacher and is genetic mutant who can not train and still go crush an IronMan. At 34, I was the youngest member of our team.
The race started at 10:00am and would last for 24 hours. There was a Pit area where racers could keep a tent, food, change of clothes etc. you could stop and sleep if you wanted. We did not. Our strategy was simple: no tent, no long breaks and constant movement. We figured we were stubborn enough to keep moving and that the tent would be a detriment. There over 1000 racers and more than 40 teams.
After the first lap, Ken dislocated his shoulder. He knew that it might be a problem and while it came out more than 20 times it did not slow us down. He is a tough bastard and one of us would reset it and then we would keep on going. We developed a system to work as a team to get him over walls and such and in return he was a machine and was the one who kept us pushing the pace on the flats. PJ was fast, tireless and as the tallest member of our team would go up Everest first and help catch and drag up the rest of us. As always Donny was comic relief, a constant source of energy and the reminder to never quit and never stop.
The morning was warm enough that we went without wetsuits until the sun went down. The first 7 hours passed quickly and the body parts all seemed to be hanging in there. For me I knew my endurance and strength would be more than fine but that my knees were a concern as I had been experiencing some tendinitis after Deadmans 53. As the sun went down we switched to wet suits and got down to business. They had a tracking system that sort of worked. At sundown we were in 7th. We knew that some of those in front of us would flame out and go to the tents to rest. We knew we would not rest and picked a pace each lap that was a hard as we could go and still leave enough in the tank for the rest of the race. The cold and wet and mud sucked but proved not to be too bad for us. We knew that the misery of it was there to stay and not much could be gained from worrying about it. At 50miles my joints finally started to fade. The impact of the obstacles from jumping down up and over, combined with slick footing, up and down the moto cross track and the compilation of the miles finally took a beating on me. The last 25 miles were spent willing my body to ignore the pain and go as fast as my broken ass knees would allow. One lap it was the right knee and the left groin. The next lap it was the left knee and the right ankle. We survived on 1000mg of Advil very two laps, Redbull, coconut water, and any food we could put down. The wetsuits were a pain to take off so pee went down the leg. Changing socks became a waste of time. And in the early morning hours we talked shit to each other, laughed and just kept moving on to the next obstacle.
At 50 miles you get a brown race bib, 75 a silver and 100 gets orange. The top male finisher was the only one to get a 100 miles but we knew we could get to 75. At 6am on Sunday we found our selves in 3rd place. Our plan had worked…sort of. We passed a couple of teams in the night and a couple of the others that had been in front of us broke down and quit racing. The two teams in front of us were much younger, withstood the pounding better and were able to keep up the pace throughout the night. My hats off to them. At the 23 hour mark we had 3rd place locked up, knew that we could not catch the 2nd place team but that one more lap would take us to the 75mike mark and the silver bib. We set off in the last lap, dragging our wooden legs and motivated to end this race the right way. We came into the finish as a team. The Rat Pack had covered 75miles, taken 3rd place and had given all that we had. While we didn’t get the win we wanted, we gave EVERYTHING, and had nothing left in the tank. I can look back and know that on that day all was given and nothing held back. Thank you to Ken, Don and PJ…great race with great friends.