Every year I race World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) and every year I seem to get instant amnesia. Fast forward a couple of weeks after the event and I forget about the debilitating pain of walking the day after the race, the cold and all the suffering on course. All I remember is the awesome sense of community, how much fun it was and how proud I am of my black WTM headband. Well this year, I’m writing this article to not only inform you the reader but also as a reminder to myself. Here are 5 things no one told you about WTM but seem to happen every year:
1. Peeing your pants is cool:
Maybe this one is talked about, but if you are new to the community you may have missed all the subtle (and not so subtle) references. Bottom line is lots of competitors pee on themselves to stay warm and so they don't have to stop running. Ever wonder why there aren't that many port-a-potties on the course for 1200+ athletes plus pit crews? If Billy Madison taught us anything, this is it. While you can stop every hour to use the port-a-potties provided on the course a vocal majority apparently does not. Sure stopping for an extra minute probably won’t affect your finishing goal, but you never know. Do you want that brown bib or do you want legs not covered in urine…the choice is yours.
2. Prickly Heat:
When your skin is covered and your pores can’t properly sweat, they get clogged. The result…heat rash, sometimes called prickly heat. There is no better way to get it than wearing a wetsuit for 19 hours. I forget about this every time, luckily Toughest Mudder Northeast (Philadelphia) just provided me a quick reminder. It's uncomfortable, it tingles every time your body temperature raises and it will last for a couple of days at least. Have fun if you try to do anything that raises your body temperature for the next week.
3. Down with the Sickness:
WTM is by nature an extreme event. 24 hours long? Check. Extreme conditions like wind, cold and water? Check. Hard obstacles involving upper body strength, electricity and jumping off a cliff? Check. The requirement to do all of this while pushing the absolute limits of your body naturally results in a dip in your immune system. The result…I get sick every single year after the event. If somehow you manage to avoid this (still yet to happen for me at WTM), you still walk away with windburn* and some sunburn if you stayed outside the full 24 hours. Worth it? Absolutely. *Mental note, pack some chapstick this year for once.
4. The 2nd Worst Part:
Once the race starts and we are on our way, I feel pretty good. What I hate is that final couple of hours before the race. Nothing but nerves, anxiety, and worrying. I personally think it is worse than the actual race. There is nothing you can do at this point, everything you did in preparation is already set you on your path. You just have to wait for your time to run….so much waiting….
5. The Worst Part:
While some people talk about the cold, The Cliff, the electricity on Operation or the windstorm, nothing is as painful as the walk back to your car. After running an ultra-distance with obstacles, being awake for 24 hours and giving your all out on the course…when Tough Mudder Headquarters (TMHQ) asks me to walk the couple hundred meters back to the car with all my equipment, they break my spirit. Despite 24 hours of consistent moving, I can’t make it to the car without several breaks, lots of groaning and feeling sorry for myself. Regardless of what TMHQ has me do on the course, this will always be the hardest obstacle every year. #TrailOfTears
Hopefully, this has educated you a little. Despite all of this, WTM remains the highlight of my OCR year, every year. I’ll see you for one final dance in the desert this year and if you see me on the course say hi…but more importantly, if you see me walking back to my car after the race, send some words of encouragement…that’s when I need it the most.
All photos provided by members of the World's Toughest Mudder Community by the athletes pictured.