World's Toughest Mudder is only two weeks away taking place at Lake Las Vegas on November 14th and 15th. In anticipation of the event, we sat down with Brady Archer, the course designer and race director for World's Toughest Mudder. Archer took the time to answer many of our questions as well as give us a few insights into this year's race and rule changes.
As one of three 24 hour obstacle course races in the world is it safe to call you guys the ultra-distance obstacle course race world championship?
I’m not sure if I’d call us the world champs, but it is probably the toughest event and the planet, and it has been called that. We’re bringing together the top elite and most hardcore athletes from all over the world together to compete for the title of World’s Toughest Mudder and win big prizes. We’re not here to compete with other events; we’re here to provide truly life-changing experiences, deliver best-in-class unique obstacles that you won’t find anywhere else, and bring together the most hardcore people in Mudder Nation who are looking for the most extreme challenge.
Why the switch in start time from a 10:00 AM start to a 2:00 PM start?
We made the switch for operational issues and to improve the participant experience. First, a later start team keeps everyone on their toes in anticipation for the event and what’s in store; we can mix things up a bit more this way. Second, it allows us to create a post-event celebration that people have asked for in the past. Most people stay through Monday, so it makes sense to have post-event brunch before heading home.
From an operations standpoint, a later start time allows us to distribute the staff shifts and volunteer scheduling more evenly.
Many people love the move to Vegas for the world championship. Can we expect this to be a new home for World’s Toughest Mudder or do you have plans on moving again in the future?
Wherever we go in 2016 will remain top secret for a bit longer, but I can say that Lake Las Vegas is a fantastic venue for World’s Toughest Mudder, so we wouldn’t mind returning next year. Being situated in the middle of the desert, participants experience a range of terrain and unpredictable weather patterns (there was a sandstorm in the middle of the night last year, people!), as well as steep hills, The Cliff, which is unique to Vegas and quite infamous, and plenty of swimming. We’re also 30 minutes from the Vegas Strip, so it’s a great place to celebrate once the event wraps.
Does a move require a higher cliff obstacle?
No matter where World’s Toughest Mudder takes us, we will continue to focus on obstacles that will challenge, surprise, or scare our participants like none other. We might see something like The Cliff in another location, or we might see something that’s never been done anywhere else before that will have people thinking, “How the hell did they come up with this?”
Any insight regarding what obstacles the innovation lab is coming up with specifically for WTM?
No specific obstacles have been announced just yet, but we will have a handful of new-for-2016 obstacles and some new World’s Toughest Mudder-only obstacles. We continue to reinvent the wheel in our obstacle innovation lab, and we’re always dreaming up new ways to surprise and challenge people with our obstacles so that we can expect an incredible obstacle menu.
I am part of the WTM community on Facebook, and I noticed you guys have been polling the community for suggestions and changes. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the changes you made? (i.e. awards banquet)
Consumer insight leads many of the decisions we make on behalf of participants at our events. The World’s Toughest Mudder Facebook group is very active and vocal, so it’s kind of a no-brainer to tap into their community and hear their point of view. Their feedback helps us decide what obstacles to bring back and which to leave off. Having a post-event awards banquet was something that we heard our participants asking for. It’s a great way to bring the community again one last time and celebrate a wildly successful weekend for everyone.
It’s also great to bring the participants and winners together to talk about the event, share memories or the best or worst moments of the day, talk with Tough Mudder and get to know each other while they’re not covered in mud and pain from competing over the last 24 hours.
I have two personal requests. First, please get rid of the obstacle where you throw the ball/rope up the hill and then climb it. I have terrible coordination, and there is a reason I do repetitive motion sports (running, cycling, swimming, lifting weights). Second, make a t-shirt that looks like exactly like the mileage bib (one brown, one silver, one for Ryan Atkins) so I can just put my bib in a frame instead of wearing it around.
Haha. Well, like I said, we always appreciate the feedback, so I’ll see what we can do. Knowing people hate certain obstacles isn’t always a motivator to remove it, though. For events like World’s Toughest Mudder, sometimes, it’s the reason we keep it around.
Care to place an informal prediction on who the top three men and women will be at your event?
It’s hard to say what’s going to happen. We have key players like Amelia Boone, Ryan Atkins, Deanna Blegg and Junyong Pak competing once again this year, as well as Team Wolfpack, so I’m sure they’re coming back to hold onto their titles. But we also have elite athletes and first-timers from all over the world who have been training all year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone new came in to swipe the title from the old dogs. Plus, with a new team prize announcement of $100k on the line, people are training together and prepared to work as a team for the top prize. Working together is the way to go for World’s Toughest, so we’re hoping it will make the competition steeper than ever.
Anything else you want to tell us about the course?
The $100k prize announcement will be awarded to the first team that completes 100 miles together as a team, which is guaranteed to make the competition fierce. We’ve made a few changes to the course to spice things up, so stay tuned for that.
World’s Toughest Mudder participants represent over 15 countries, including Canada, Australia, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France, Switzerland, New Zealand and more.
Last Lap Rule Enforcement: All participants intending to earn the official Black 24hr headband must complete a “Final Lap” after 1:00 pm on Sunday to qualify as a full event finisher.
Additional ‘fun facts’:
In 2015, World’s Toughest Mudder will offer $160k in prize money, including a $100k prize to the first team that completes 100 miles together. This is the largest prize awarded at any one event in the OCR industry.
World’s Toughest Mudder is a 5-mile circuit race with double the obstacles per mile of any other Tough Mudder event.
The youngest participant at WTM 2014 was 19 years, four months old; the oldest participant was 65 years, six months old. The average age of a competitor is 34, with the most common age being 31.
Past winners like Ryan Atkins, Amelia Boone, Junyong Pak, Juliana Sproles, Deanna Blegg and Team Wolfpack are returning for WTM 2015.
In 2014, participants completed a total of 41,652 miles in an aggregate, which we expect to surpass this year. Since 2011, WTM participants have completed over 103,101 miles in aggregate.
Finally, let me thank you for not scheduling your event at the same time as any of the other championship events. I think that’s a good sign for the sport in general and is helpful that companies are not competing for business on the biggest event of their year.
It’s going to be a great event, and we’re expecting athletes from all over the world in the Tough Mudder and OCR communities to join us for a chance to earn the coveted World’s Toughest Mudder title and be part of our Mudder Nation tribe.