Fun story: the second Tough Mudder I ever ran was World’s Toughest Mudder. The first Spartan event I participated in was the Death Race. I had no idea what I was doing at either event, and likely, zero business being there.
Despite my lack of preparation, I survived, which is either a testament to some dumb luck on my part or the uniqueness and accessibility of Spartan/Tough Mudder endurance events. Despite how daunting they may seem, they are set up to help you succeed (sometimes, in spite of yourself).
While much has changed in the OCR landscape in the past decade, the core offerings of OCR endurance have remained an excellent way to test your limits in a racer-friendly environment. For those of you who have run a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race and are endurance-curious, I submit to you that tackling World’s Toughest Mudder is probably the best first foray into ultra-endurance events. Sounds crazy, right? If you’re asking yourself how 24-hours straight on the World’s Toughest Mudder course could possibly be the gateway to OCR endurance – keep reading.
1. You can baby step your way there.
Tough Mudder Infinity, where you run as many laps as you can during the day at a Tough Mudder event, or Toughest Mudder, where you attempt the same in an 12-hour format overnight, can give you that taste of what it’s like to prep for the big show at World’s Toughest Mudder. 24 hours certainly seems a bit less scary now, huh?
2. You set your own goals.
Unlike going out to run a 100-mile ultramarathon where there’s a set finish line and cut-offs, World’s Toughest Mudder allows you to run as hard or slow as you want, to go at your own pace, to define what your own goal is. For some people that’s 100 miles. For others, that’s 25. Or some just want to be out there moving when the sun is rising. All goals are welcome, and all goals are celebrated.
3. Lap format.
Looped courses are the perfect set-up to make endurance events less daunting. Every 5 miles, you have the option to come back to your pit crew and your crew, to refuel, restock, trade some jokes and smiles, and rest if needed. You are never far away from your creature comforts (for me, that’s a box of Pop-Tarts).
4. Obstacles break up the monotony.
And not just any obstacles – EXHILARATING ones. The thought of running for 24 hours can be quite intimidating, but when that running is broken up by 20+ obstacles each lap, it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. I promise you, your upper body will start to hurt long before you realize your legs do!
5. The community.
The absolute best thing about WTM is that everyone is out there to lend a helping hand – even those racers who are in it to win it! It’s the ethos of WTM that was first created a decade ago, and lives on to this day. And no matter what your goal out there, we are all in it together. I’ve said this many times: no one will remember how many laps you do, but they will remember the experiences they had with you out on the course. Those are the memories that stick with us, and those are the ones that keep us coming back.
This isn’t to say that World’s Toughest Mudder will be easy (it’s far from it), or that you won’t feel incredibly overwhelmed and in over your head (I’ve won the event 3 times and I still get scared leading up to it!), but it’s a manageable and accessible way to test your limits. And if you are like me or any one of the hundreds of athletes who come out year after year, you’ll get hooked into seeing if you can set a personal best every November.
Come join us – you won’t regret it (and if you do, you can direct all complaints to me).