More than Mud - Heather Knowles Cammarata

More than Mud is an article and interview series dedicated to documenting the incredible characters and stories that we come across in the world of OCR and outdoor adventure and endurance racing events. They range from everyday heroes to extreme athletes but all have unique and engaging stories to tell.  

We know you are fresh off of World's Toughest Mudder - tell us about your experience - any great stories from the course?
In 2014, the location of World’s Toughest Mudder changed from Englishtown NJ to Las Vegas NV. I know I was looking forward to the event being warmer this year and that is exactly how it started out. We were all dressed in summer race clothing. It was about 75 degrees when we started. It would all change by the time the sun went down and the night came upon us. Around 10pm the winds started picking up. I heard estimates of gusts between 50-60mph. Factoring the wind in with the temperature in the 40’s it felt more like the high 20’s low 30’s with the wind chill. I know I was not prepared for this change in weather along with many others. Many people dropped out overnight because of the conditions. The wind was relentless. It never let up. It was still blowing strong as we broke down our pit areas after the race. This race has taught me to be prepared for anything no matter where the race venue is!




What are the highlights of your race and event resume? 
My race highlights would have to include placing 5th at the Spartan Ultra Beast in 2013, 1st Place at the ABF Mud Run in 2014, Sunday Vermont Beast 2014 1st Place, 40-44 Age Group OCR World Champion 2014, 15th and 2nd in Age Group at World’s Toughest Mudder. 2014 played out to be an awesome year!

Your standing at the starting line moments before running, if you could play any song at that moment to pump you up, what would it be?  
Wow, the answer to this question really dates me. The song that I keep thinking of would have to be, “Eye of the Tiger.” This just happened to be our high school theme song as well since our mascot was a Tiger. So I don’t know if it is just engrained in my head from years past, but it still gets me hyped up before a race.

Have you always been fit?  and If not, what was the turning point for you?
As a kid, I was always very active and played sports. I continued throughout high school. I played soccer and fencing. I found it very hard after high school to stay fit because there were not as many organized sports for adults. I decided to take up running, and gave myself a goal to run a marathon. Well, that was the start of running countless road races ranging from 5k’s to marathons. A few years later I found these races that were called “mud runs”, and the rest is history. I am 42 and in the best shape of my life right now and I am loving every minute of it.

What makes you different from other athletes? 
I don’t know if there is much about me that makes me standout from other athletes. A few years ago I would have said my age and that I am a mom, but as the years go on, I am finding that there are more and more women who are in their early 40’s and are moms that are kicking some serious butt out there on the course. Maybe one thing that makes me different is that I never give up. No matter how slow I might be going, I put my head down and keep going forward. I guess that is why I have been given the nickname of “Tank”. I may not be the fastest out there, but nothing stops me. 

Who are you outside of racing, and what are you passionate about?
Outside of racing, I find enjoyment in spending time with my family. I enjoy coaching my daughter’s recreation cross country team and track team. I am also passionate about helping people lead more active and healthier lifestyles. I am a personal trainer at a local gym and love helping people through their fitness journey. My passion for fitness spills over to my clients and have often been told that I inspire them with all the races and events that I do. I am a NSCA-CPT, I don’t have my own business, but I train clients at a gym called ZS Fitness in Long Valley, NJ. The staff and members are like my second family. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.

Do you practice specific obstacles before an OCR event?
Usually, about a week before an OCR event, I will practice a few of the obstacles. I am blessed to have a nice size backyard. I have transformed part of it into a training area where I have a rope traverse, 7ft wall, balance logs, spear throw and bucket carry. I make it a point to practice my spear throw and balance logs because those are the two that I often incur a penalty at.





What is the favorite race experience you can remember?
My favorite race experience, would have to be the 2014 Sunday Vermont Spartan Beast. I remember going through the woods and had a male athlete say to me “you know you are in first place right?". I couldn’t believe it. It gave me such a boost to continue on as fast as I could. I had no idea how far behind the 2nd place female was. It was absolutely amazing coming through the finish line and standing on that first spot on the podium!

What has been your toughest race?
I have two races that come to mind when I think of my toughest race. The first being OCR World Championships 2014. This race was physically tough for me. There were so many obstacles that just taxed your upper body especially the dreaded Platinum Rig. I was super excited that I was able to complete this obstacle on the first try. The other race that comes to mind would be World’s Toughest Mudder 2014. This race was not only tough physically, but mentally as well since the race was for 24 hours. Looking back on it, I think the mental aspect of WTM was tougher than the physical.

What's next for you - what are your goals in 2015?
Now, it is all about training for 2015. The winter months will consist of maintaining my strength, but I need to work on my speed so that will be my main focus now that my race season has come to an end for 2014. Now I can start thinking about my 2015 goals. I have found that I really enjoy the longer OCR events. I have already signed up to return to World’s Toughest Mudder 2015. My goal next year for this race is to place top 5. I am looking to find a spot on the podium at the Tri-State Battlefrog race next year. I am also looking for a top three spot at the NJ Super Spartan Race since it is in my home state. I will definitely be looking to uphold my 1st place finish in the age division category at OCR World Championships for 2015 along with running the Spartan Vermont Beast.

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