Earning the Gold Buckle: Tough Mudder Infinity Tips

Tough Mudder launched their latest multi-lap experience earlier this year called Tough Mudder Infinity.  The 9-hour multi-lap experience rewards participants for achieving mileage goals.  The biggest reward they offer is the gold belt buckle you get for racking up 60km.  Here are a couple of tips to help you squeeze in some PRs at Tough Mudder Infinity:

Opt for the 15k

Athletes have to run a 15k lap and a second lap (either 15k or 5k) to be considered an Infinity finisher.  My recommendation is to run the 15k as many times as you can before the time cutoff (5k laps have a later cutoff than the 15k laps).  The 15k has less obstacles per km on average (about 30 obstacle/15km = 2 per km) than the 5k (about 12 obstacles/5km = 2.4 per km).  While not substantial it does add up when multiplied by multiple laps and some of the obstacles you hit on the 5k tend to eat up more time/effort like Everest and Mudderhorn when compared to some quicker ones you’ll only experience on the 15k course. 

Strength & Speed athlete, Jeff Lipert, hit 70km at Infinity Colorado using the 15k method afterwards stating, “I 100% agree with doing as many 15ks as possible until you hit the cutoff to switch to the 5k.”

Additionally, when you run a lap the space between the finish line and start line doesn’t count as mileage.  This means you are crossing this distance 3x for a 5k lap versus only 1x for a 15k lap. 

Furthermore, from personal experience the 15k laps tend to be a little short of 15k and the 5k laps tend to be a little over 5k.  It’s not purposeful and it doesn’t hold true for every venue; but as a 50x Legionnaire, I feel comfortable stating this based off personal experience.

My final justification for focusing on the 15k laps is what I call ultra-math.  Running 3x15k laps feels like a lot less work than running 9x5k laps.  I know the distance is the same but mentally my mind can grasp 3 repeats easier than it can grasp 9 repeats.  (If you want to know more about mental tricks and tips pick up a copy of my book On Endurance, which collects knowledge from our sports best endurance athletes and the larger fitness world into one place).

Before publishing this article, I shared the above tips with Chris Mikolajewski who ended up reaching 65km and said afterwards “I need to thank you for the tips on the 15k…that was the better way to go.  Some others went to the 5k and didn’t make it.” 

Pit Times

It’s always in your best interest to limit pit times.  If you are in the pit, you aren’t moving forward and not getting closer to your goal.  Just like with Toughest Mudder, try to be efficient but still get all your nutrition into your body.  If you just skip the pit altogether it will eventually catch up to you and you’ll crash. 

Chris Mikolajewski echoed the above sentiments when I was talking to him after his impressive performance, “The same things hold for the other races.  Always move forward, limit your pit time and solve issues as they come up.”

Be Polite, But Move to the Front

If you read this website you probably make up the 10% of the sport that loves OCR and races frequently.  You are the heart and soul of the sport; however, even if you go to every race you can, you still aren’t what is bringing in the most revenue that makes our sport sustainable.  The 90% of open wavers who are just there for a good time attending their local event are what makes the sport viable, which is why being polite is important.

If you are shooting for a mileage goal, you can move to the front of the line to complete the obstacle.  However, I always try to ask politely, and if the front person says no, then I don’t jump the line.  Furthermore, try to approach with speed; and then, power through the obstacle as quickly as possible to avoid causing any further back up.  Also, make sure your bib is visible so they know you are an Infinity participant, which should help clear up some confusion.   

Jeff Lippert also pointed out that in the later 15k laps (for him it was laps 3 and 4) most of the lines were gone; and by lap 4, “it was a ghost town.” So, you “could get through obstacles without people being in the way or having to cut to the front of the line.”  This just adds another reason to stick with the 15k as long as possible. 

LEARN MORE

Overall, Infinity falls within the realm of Ultra-OCR/obstacle course events that are 5+ hours in length, which happens to be my specialty. While this article is a great starting point, I recommend you dive deeper by picking up a copy of my book, The Ultra-OCR Bible. It is full of helpful information that can be applied broadly to help your performance at any ultra competition as well as cheat code -like tips that are unique to specific races and usually only learned through experience. Grab your MudGear socks and start training.  See you out on the course!

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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