This past November two if the most iconic races took place on two consecutive weekends: The New York City Marathon (very iconic) and World's Toughest Mudder (very iconic within the OCR community). Each of them represents a great physical challenge on its own, yet both within a week are the ultimate challenge. So when I decided to run both this year people thought I was completely crazy.

But it turned out that crazy people tend to accumulate at crazy events. I was not the only one to complete the NYC Marathon and WTM challenge this year. So I reached out to my fellow racers, and two were happy to share their stories with me.

Ben “Asian Sensation” Chan

Based in: NYC

Instagram: @malerunner

Marathon count: 11
WTM count: 2014-2017
NYC Marathon count: 2014-20017

Why did you run the NYC Marathon and WTM double?

This year was my 4th year running the NYC Marathon and WTM. My first one was in 2014. I had started running two years earlier to train for my first Tough Mudder after I had donated a kidney. I then ran several shorter races before running my first Marathon in LA in 2014. Afterwards, I signed up for three more marathons that year, including the Marine Corps Marathon and the NYC Marathon a week later. Through my friend Matt Emmi I got a spot for WTM, which took place two weeks after NYC Marathon.
In 2015 the period between these two races shrunk to just 6 days, but I still decided to do both, plus Marine Corps Marathon a week prior. I've then skipped the MCM but done the NYC Marathon and WTM ever since.

How was your training?

My training this year has not been optimal. I have been dealing with quite a few injuries. After my first WTM in 2014, I was suffering from runner's knee. Then in 2015, I got into a couple of accidents on my bike, which affected my ribs, shoulder and wrist throughout 2016. My tight racing schedule did not help either.
2017 was the first year where I was not injured, but instead of training heavily I just exercised lightly. I did almost no upper body work and just averaged 100 miles of running every month with no proper training plan. However I enjoyed being injury free.

How did NYC Marathon go?

My goal was to enjoy it. I ran the first half slowly with my friend Eric. He then decided to take off with my blessing. At about mile 15, I ran into my friend Amanda, who was crutching the marathon. She was running with two military veterans, Earl and Jonathan, and their guide, Lindsey. I decided to finish the course with them. We had a great time interacting with all of Amanda’s fans, and even got handed pizza by spectators. It was amazing and inspiring to share the course with veterans, cancer survivors, and runners overcoming all kinds of challenges.

How did you recover in between events?

I usually do light running in between races, but this year I was swamped at work, and the soreness from the marathon lingered a little longer than usual, probably as a result of my lack of strength work. I have an Air Relax compression leg massager that I did several sessions with, and I wore my calf compression sleeves for the six days between NYC and WTM. By the time I got on the plane to fly to Las Vegas my legs felt fine and I was ready to go.

And how was WTM?

Fun! I resisted the temptation to run fast to beat the obstacles opening and moved forward slowly and steadily. I took everything in and enjoyed the course this year including the penalty miles. WTM is the complete opposite to the NYC Marathon. The NYC Marathon course is lined with two million spectators. There are almost no spectators at WTM, and especially at night, you feel completely alone in the desert. I enjoy the solitude.

During my last lap I stopped at Pyramid Scheme to join my friend Haydon Chavez in helping as many participants as we could. I was up there for about 30-15 minutes. By the time I moved on to finish the lap, I had zero upper body strength left. Even though I know how to swim, I needed to use the lane line rope to pull myself across the water at the Cliff bypass, and the 35 feet cargo net climb that’s usually easy for me was really tough. I honestly thought that I might end the race dangling on that net. Fortunately, the World’s Best Pit Crew, my wife, was at the top yelling at me to get my ass up there before the clock expired. I crossed the finish line with less than four minutes to go.

How did you recover afterward?

Orphan Tent volunteer Brooke Kaplan Gloth opened up her home to me for a delicious home cooked meal a few hours after the WTM ended. It’s the first home cooked meal I’ve ever had in Las Vegas. My wife and I flew back to New York City on Monday afternoon. A week after WTM I joined my friend Danilo who ran around the perimeter of Manhattan island for 13 of 32 miles. My legs were sore and I was dealing with a sinus infection, but I’m glad I was able to do it with him. Since then, I’ve been eating a lot and resting, and started training a week later.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely. And I’ll train next time! See you in Atlanta.

 

Eddie Noonan

Based in: Somerville Massachusetts

Marathon count: 10
WTM count: 3
NYC Marathon count: 1

When did you decide to run both NYC Marathon and WTM?

I ran WTM last year and then my friends peer pressured me into doing it again. I am also a marathon runner and wanted to do the NYC marathon for years, so I signed up for the lottery. Surprisingly I won, only to find out it was 6 days before WTM. I just called it a “taper” or “training” run to whoever would listen.

How did you train for it?

I didn’t train for the marathon, I just trained for WTM. Since I was having some shin and hip problems I would bike for 30min every day at the gym and around Boston on my single gear bike. I would also do a lot of pullups and some weights at the gym and my apartment. On the last two weekends before NYC, on Saturday I would do a 10 mile run, then bike 50 miles, then do another 10 mile run. Sunday I would do 2 hours of trail running with obstacles like rope climbs, wall climbs, bucket/log carries and tire drags.

How did you like NYC marathon?

NYC was fun. I stayed at my friend's house in Queens. They took me to the expo and came to see me at mile 14. I screwed up the transportation and didn’t know if I could get on the ferry in the morning before the race but my buddy called the ferry and it was open to everyone, so I could sleep a little easier.

On race day I started in the last wave so I waited at the start for 4 hours before I lined up. It was a really cool experience and a great day for running. It was cloudy and 50 degrees and from mile 15-26 it was drizzling rain, perfect weather! I thought the running crowd would die down but I was dodging people the whole way, which I did not like. The cheering crowds were awesome, they were lined all the way of the 26.2 mile race. I took it easy for the first 15 miles until I got over the Queensborough bridge. I tried to pick up the pace but could only do a little because my right calf was bothering me. It ended with a 3:53:58 finish which made me very happy. But the hard part was finding my way back to Queens which took way longer than expected.

How did you recover between races?

I was pretty sore on Monday after the marathon and just stretched. Tuesday I got back to the gym to do my pullup workout and then biked for 30 minutes. Wednesday I had to finish packing and so I just took it easy all day. Thursday was work and traveling. I got in late to Las Vegas and was on Boston time so my sleep schedule was all messed up. We got up early on Friday to get in line for WTM registration and to get a good pit spot. After that was set up we took it easy and I did a bunch of walking around the strip and went to bed early. My legs were good to go on Saturday.

How did WTM go for you?

WTM started off great, since the obstacles opened on a lagging basis. The course also played to my strong suit of running. It wasn’t as hot as last year which I liked. Over the first 15 miles I probably only did a couple obstacles and had a 25 miles at about 4:50 p.m. which is a great marathon time without obstacles or rugged hilly terrain. I was going strong until a bunch of the harder obstacles opened like Rope-A-Dope, Kong, and the rings. The monkey bars also got soaked and when it got dark I wasn't even wasting my energy on them anymore.

The penalties this year were brutal and coming in at 50 miles at about 4 a.m. I was very defeated. I managed to walk 10 more miles for 60 total miles and probably ran about 75 miles including penalties. The course was definitely as they described, “Hard as Hell”. I was also very cold, despite wearing two wetsuits and two wind breakers. Naively I thought I would be ready for the cold but I definitely was not. Overall I had a great time running with some great people and made some great friends but it was a tough year. I was going to stop WTM after this one but I need to go back for redemption next year, so I am already signed up.

How did you recover afterward?

I surprisingly wasn’t very sore after this WTM. Maybe it had to do with a more slow grind versus the marathon which is a faster pavement grinding pace. I didn’t do too much to recover except some walking around Vegas and taking a week off from any physical activity. My go-to recovery strategy is just being young and dealing with the soreness later. So far that worked fine for me but I hear I lose that ability after a while.

Would you do it again?

I already signed up for WTM 2018 and if I win the lottery for NYC Marathon again, you can count me in!

 

 

And finally: me! (Carola, the pole dancer)

based in Munich, Germany

Instagram: @aerialspartan

Blog: www.aerialspartan.com

Marathon count: 6

WTM count: 1

When did you decide to run both?

I was already signed up for WTM when last spring I was offered two tour operator spots for NYC Marathon for me and my Dad. He is 69 and he wanted to run his first Marathon in the Big Apple. I could not really say no to that.

How did you train for it?

I did not have a training plan. I just went by the rule of “train like a crazy person“. While I was still living in London this meant lots of running, boot camp style classes, pole dancing and circus conditioning and Bikram Yoga. When I moved to Munich in June I did less of the workout classes but spent nearly all my weekend's trail running and hiking in the mountains.
I think I averaged around 12 hours of training per week and ran over 1000 training miles. No surprise I don't have time for a boyfriend.

How did the Marathon go?

It went surprisingly well. I had run a new sub 4 hours PB earlier that year in Berlin and felt really good. However 10 days before the race I was suddenly suffering from a lot of pain in my right ribcage and could not move for a few days. I was diagnosed with an irritated nerve but was pain free by race day.
As it was my Dad's first Marathon I was running the race with him. Unfortunately, it did not go too well. He had severe knee pain and cramps towards the end so we walked the last three miles. We finished in 4 hours and 51 minutes. I was really proud of my old man that finished in sub 5 at the age of 69.

How did you recover between races?

I was not feeling too bad as we ran the Marathon at a pretty easy pace for me. I was sore for the first few days but I was not doing any physical activity as I was working in NYC Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I flew out to Las Vegas and booked myself tickets for a nice show. The only thing I did consistently these days was eating lots of food and catching up with old friends to keep me distracted.

How did you enjoy WTM?

I enjoyed it a lot, at least most of it. I did not bring any pit crew, so I signed up for the Orphan Tent. Of course, I also knew some people that were going, and I made friends along the way.
My goal was to hit 50 miles, so I had made a lap by lap plan how to reach that goal. I was comfortably ahead of schedule until I got really cold during lap 8 at around 3 a.m. at night. I was shivering heavily and had severe tummy cramps despite wearing a windbreaker, my wetsuit and several wetsuit layers underneath.

When I got back to the pit I immediately put 4 heat packs on my tummy to warm up. I probably also drank my body weight in hot chocolate at the Orphan Tent. Because I was so cold I then changed into my 5mm winter surf wetsuit with the help of my friends. This allowed me to warm up a bit and at 6 a.m. I headed out for two more laps to reach my goal of 50 miles. (which I did).

I was so happy to finish WTM with 50 miles. But I was also beyond exhausted. Thankfully, my friends, Rhonda and Jason helped me pack up my stuff, as I was not able to move at all.

How did you recover afterward?

Besides being really exhausted and sore the collateral damage was okay. My muscles recovered pretty fast, but one of my toenails became infected and had to be treated with antibiotics. Also, my shoulder hurt quite a lot from the constant pulling and I am still not completely pain-free.
But the worse thing was that I had an X-ray done after I came home. And I found out that pain in my ribcage I suffered from earlier was actually a broken rib. I would have never run NYC Marathon and WTM if I had known.

Would you do it again?

I am already signed up for WTM, but I would not do NYC Marathon again with a tour operator. It is just too expensive with all the costs including entry, flights, and accommodation. But if I win the lottery I would totally do it.