I woke up Saturday morning and knew it would be a long time until I was in a bed again. With a midnight start sleep would be replaced by the 8 hours of running that I had planned for that night at the made for TV epic that is the new Toughest Mudder series. With 10,000 for first place and pay 5 deep the best in the OCR world had gathered on a remote farm outside of Philly. Tough Mudder delivered spectacular obstacles; some 50 and 60 feet high with circus like requirements. Half fear factor, half ultra marathon it was unlike anything I had ever done and I was in for a learning experience.
This was my second ultra in almost as many weeks and my legs sadly hadn’t fully recovered: that was my first lesson, don’t show up to this unless your 100% and I needed 1-2 more weeks between events. But mentally I was solid and determined.
The first lap is the “sprint lap” with a free entry to the winner. The sprint lap skips the obstacles. The obstacles in fact don’t open all at once and you don’t know until you get to them when they will open. With such a stakes field people took the first two laps out like it was a normal length race. I was in 40th at the end of lap one and knew people would regret racing so hard so soon. By the end of lap 3, 15 miles in, people cracked and I moved up to 15th place and felt great! At 4am the moon rise came and the largest most sublime moon sat on top of us. The farm venue allowed for views of it from each rolling hill. The Stars mingled with the head lamps of the runners and we all danced unable to tell where sky ended and land began.
I loved the obstacles they had. Most were amazingly fun and some really tested your bravery as much as your strength and balance. As darkness gave way to day break and the 5 hour mark runners were treated to a sky on fire with purples then oranges and finally day light. I was shocked that not once during the night did I feel sleepy or tired. The race was so exciting I was wired the whole time. Maybe the Energy Burst Gels helped with that. Sadly as day break came my hip flexor gave up on me and started to tighten badly. The cumulative effect of back to back ultras caught up with me and in the final miles I lost 10 spots while I knew I had the fitness to keep running. I was disappointed but ran 30 miles and finished in the top 25 while also finishing high enough to get a slot for the pro/elite field at Worlds Toughest their world championship should I wish to go.
As importantly I learned so much about this new race series and know I could crack the top spots with a slight more rested body and all the tricks I learned.