First Timer’s Guide to World’s Toughest Mudder

So you spent the weekend of World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) watching your friends and strangers run through a Tough Mudder course for 24 hours on social media - epic suffering, fun obstacles and moments of glory that you can’t get anywhere else, and now you’ve signed up for the next one.  Before you make the trip to Pensacola though (or any future WTM location), here’s a quick guide for a couple of key pointers that will help you to get ready for the 24-hour long WTM:

1. Get Involved in The Community.

You can show up, run by yourself, and not talking to anyone.... but that’s a lot less fun. Every year I’ve enjoyed WTM just a little more because I know more people on course.  If you aren’t already part of the online Facebook community, join us right now.  The group is a fun place to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.  One piece of advice though is they love to joke around; so be careful on the answers you get if you ask a serious question. 

2. Train.

WTM is a year away from the writing of this article, but you shouldn’t wait until the month before to start training. The online community does monthly mileage challenges as well as provides a great way to meet up with people at regular Tough Mudder events through the coming year.  Besides physically preparing your body, you’ll need to prepare you mind, which brings me to…

3. Come Prepared.

This is not only physically but also mentally and with the right gear. Regardless of what the temperature and weather look like, be sure to come prepared.  You never know how much water there will be on the course, what the wind will be like, or how your body will react after pushing it to the limit for 12+ hours (making thermoregulation a greater challenge).  While you can ask for advice in the community, I would warn you that you’ll get a mix of great, okay, and bad advice.  I already mentioned that some of the bad advice are jokes, but some are people that just don’t know any better. 

To avoid similar pitfalls, I would go with a source based on practical experience.  I personally have spent more than a cumulative month on Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) courses on my way to 65+ podiums.  While this means I did a lot of things right, more importantly, it means I’ve done a lot of things wrong and had to learn from my mistakes the hard way.  Rather than going and messing up at your first WTM, I would pick up my book Mud Run Guide’s Ultra-OCR Bible and save yourself a lot of money by learning from a lifetime of experience as well as reading interviews with some of the best Ultra-OCR athletes in the sport listed in the back of the book. 

4. Write Your Name on Your Bib.

It’s a lot harder to cheer for people if you don’t know who they are. WTM has bibs that allow you to customize it with your name, patches or drawings. Write something on there so people can talk to you on the course.  Trust me, not only will it help you stay motivated, but it will also motivate other competitors.  Plus, you’ll be surprised at some of the new friends you walk away with from talking to other participants.

5. Always Go For One More.

After 20 hours you are going to try to reason with yourself to stop. Let me save you some time.  There’s always a good reason to quit: your feet hurt; you’re tired; today isn’t your day; or you’ll do better next year.  Go ahead and make this decision before you show up:  “If you have time, you ALWAYS go for one more lap.”  It doesn’t matter what your mileage or placement are.  ALWAYS GO FOR ONE MORE.  No one wants to hear your excuse for why you could have done one more but didn’t.  Save yourself a year of justifying your performance with caveats, and just go for one more.  

6. Stay for Brunch.

After the race you will be exhausted, wet and tired.  While you can stay and socialize after the race, part of you is going to want to head back to the hotel for a shower and some real food.  You’ll want to enjoy your post-race high by sticking around until Monday afternoon because Monday is the World’s Toughest Mudder Champions Brunch.  The name is misleading slightly because, although they do honor the overall team and age group winners of WTM, the event is more of a celebration of the whole community.  Awards are given out for Holy Grail Champion (Tough Mudder’s points series), Tough Mudder Hall of Fame, recognizing major milestones in the Tough Mudder Community like 100x headband, as well as Community Awards for things like grit and service. Plus, it's just a fun social event.  The brunch is also where organizers reveal sneak peaks and plans for the next year including the location of the next WTM.  I didn’t start doing the brunch until my 4th year; and since then, I’ve made sure to include it as an important part of my WTM itinerary.

Overall, there is a lot of advice I can give you for WTM.  It is a major muscle movement of an event from both the company’s side as well as the participant’s side.  However, you’ll find that even if you only go once as a racer or as a member of someone’s pit crew, it is an experience you won’t soon forget. 

Evan “Ultra-OCR Man” Perperis is a professional obstacle course racer for the MudGear-Battle of the Lions Pro Team.  With over 65 overall podiums and counting, he is best known for his annual ultra-endurance events that often last multiple days to raise money for the charity Folds of Honor.  You can read about these events and his military service in his biography “Ultra-OCR Man: From Special Forces Soldier to Record Setting Pro OCR Athlete” (available in hard copy, digital and audiobook).  A NSCA-CPT he also has an additional five books on training and preparing for Obstacle Course Racing. 

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