TMHQ Exclusive: Revealing World's Toughest Mudder Course & Terrain Features

By Nolan Kombol | August 7, 2014


If you’re getting advice from even the most seasoned World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) contenders, be sure to take it with a grain of salt (or more appropriately, sand) because for the first time ever, the extreme 24-hour military obstacle course race will be held on never-before-experienced WTM terrain--the desert sands of Las Vegas. 

And while the scene at Lake Las Vegas on November 15 and 16, 2014 will be something no Mudder has ever experienced before, there is one man capable of giving Mudders a sneak peak behind WTM’s mud-coated curtain--Tough Mudder’s Head Course Designer, Nolan Kombol

The kind (yet twisted) soul that he is, Nolan has requested to write a series of WTM Pro Tip blog posts leading up to WTM 2014 to provide the most hardcore Mudders with exclusive, insider tips that could make or break their race. Today’s topic? WTM terrain and course info.

Take it away, Nolan.

WTM Terrain

Lake Las Vegas is located on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, one of five major North American deserts. The Mojave receives less than 12 inches of rainfall a year and is a mix between a hot and cold desert, both in terms of seasonal changes and overnight extremes. Because of this, the soil type and plant life are unique and unusual.

The course path is split between hard-pack pavement desert and loose sandy desert. The hard-pack pavement sections are typically established roads or cleared desert and are quite comfortable to run on, minus the dust. However, the loose sandy desert portions of the course will be difficult and tiring to run on.

Oddly enough, dust is going to be an X-factor throughout the 24 hours of WTM. Here are two tips for dealing with the dust:

Choose your shoes wisely

Gore-Tex v. Non-Gore-Tex. Your choice presents a Catch 22. On one hand you get the dust and water protection from Gore-Tex shoes, but you lose breathability. Non-Gore-Tex shoes are light but allow dust to gather in the shoes.

Pro Tip: If you have both, bring both. During the day you may benefit from light, breathable shoes, and grit through the dust. At night, you and your feet will benefit from the dust protection.

Bring handkerchiefs

They’re cheap. They’re light. Plan to bring several for impromptu air filters. You may survive a few laps sucking down hot dust, but the handkerchief will be beneficial when it goes beyond that.

Additional Info

Water Features: The course this year will feature several water crossing and water obstacles. You should prepare for 100-200 meters of swimming per 5 mile laps.
Simulation Training: Practice running on beaches, dry river beds and loose soil. During the race, it may be wise to push yourself on the hardback section and conserve energy through the soft soil. Be sure to review the terrain type photo selection below.


Without giving too much away, the 2014 WTM course will be a 5-mile circuit format similar to the 2013 course in New Jersey. However, the similarities stop there.

Here are the key differences:

Elevation: 750 ft. of elevation gain per lap
Water Features: Spaced evenly around the course totalling 100-200 yards of swimming
Route Changes: Expect some differences between the day and night course

That’s enough chit chat for now. Let’s wrap up with some exclusive TMHQ WTM visuals.