America’s Toughest Mudder West – TV Show Review

It seems that Obstacle Racing is finally moving into primetime TV. When I first started reviewing ORC events on that were shown on TV, they were usually not on the main network channels but instead shown on “Sport Channels” of the networks, the first “Spartan Ultimate Challenge” was on NBC Sports Channel. And the “Tough Mudder – The Challenge Within” on the CW’s, The Seed website. But Season 2 of  “The Spartan Ultimate Challenge” in on NBC mains channel and “America’s Toughest Mudder” is being broadcast on CBS. Obviously advertisers and networks are seeing the potential of these shows in regards to new customers and ratings.

The America’s Toughest Mudder – West is the first in a series of regional events in which the participants hope to win an elite spot at the 2017 World’s Toughest Mudder.  They also hope to earn some dollars for their effort. The 1st place men’s and women’s finisher will each get $5,000 and the first person to do 50 miles during the event also gets $5,000.

There was a brief overview of the 4 different regional events, starting in LA (San Bernardino) , Atlanta , Philadelphia, and Chicago.  Also being shown on CBS will be the Tough Mudder X prelim and finals events and ending with the World’s Toughest Mudder in Las Vegas, NV.

The schedule for the remaining shows is as follows (all times shown are Eastern Time Zone);

  • Sunday, July 30, 1:00-2:00 PM – America’s Toughest Mudder – South, Atlanta, GA
  • Saturday, August 19, 2:00-3:00 PM – America’s Toughest Mudder – Northeast, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sunday, August 27, 1:00-2:00 PM – Tough Mudder X Prelims
  • Sunday, September 3, 4:00-5:00 PM – Tough Mudder X Finals, Twin Cities, MN
  • Saturday, October 28, 2:00-3:00 PM – America’s Toughest Mudder – Midwest, Chicago, IL
  • Saturday, December 23, 12:00-1:00 PM – World’s Toughest Mudder, Lake Las Vegas, NV

Now what is a America’s Toughest Mudder event? It is an 8-hour obstacle event, starting at midnight and finishing at 8am, basically on overnight race. As someone that has done trail running at night as well as GORUCK Toughs (12 hours overnight), I can tell you from experience that night running is a totally different event. You are running in an environment in which your vision may only see a few feet in front of you. Also you have to contend with a lack of sleep during the events as well as nutrition and hydration needs.

Like almost every other OCR show that has come before, the show focuses on the elites. While I understand why, it was nice to see the short story on Jim “Da Goat” Campbell, who has completed , at the time of taping, 107 Tough Mudder events. Not an elite racer, just someone who enjoys the sport and enjoys helping those complete their first event. In fact it was mentioned during the show, for many racers, the camaraderie is what helps them to complete the course.

America’s Toughest Mudder is actually 2 sub-events rolled into one. For the first 4 hours of the event is basically a 5 mile “easy” course which provides an opportunity for many racers to rack up miles.  At the 4am switchover races move to the longer 10 mile course with more more challenging obstacles.

Early in the event we saw very little movement in regards to the top 5 finishers (the top 5 of male and top 5 of female, earn elite status at World’s Toughest Mudder.) At about 1hour 20 minute mark the leaderboard was as follows;

WOMENS:

  1. Sara Knight
  2. Lindsay Webster
  3. Allison Tai
  4. April Harwig
  5. Tied for 4th – Alex Roudayna

MENS:

  1. Ryan Woods
  2. Chad Trammell
  3. Glen Racz
  4. Ryan Atkins
  5. Zac Martin

Now I am not going to bore you with a mile by mile, or even hour by hour, recap of who is in what place. If you want to read a first hand review of the event, check out this article. Instead I want to talk about an obstacle I had never seen before, The Augusts Gloop. Basically you climb up a 14ft tube, that does seem to have footholds in it to help you climb. Seems easy enough…. but add a stream of cold water coming down at you at 120 psi, and this makes the obstacle a daunting challenge. Now remember the racers have already been running for 4 hours before they got to the “big boys” in regards to obstacles and they have to face this one. Racers are already tired and cold and this does not make things any easier.

In fact, may of the known obs that we have seen at regular TM events seem to be modified for this event. The Berlin Walls added an additional protrusion you had to climb over. King of the Swingers had you swing over to a cargo net. So while racers may be a “pro” at the normal TM events, these changes added to the challenge of this event.

At 6am the sun started to come up. Nothing rejuvenates a racer more than when the sun comes up, you can see things better, a sense of warmth comes over you, and in this case, the racers knew that only a couple of hours remain. Lindsay Webster was the lead female racer and Chad Trammel was the lead male race at this point of the event. But Ryan Atkins had moved up to 2nd place and was gaining time on Chad. Only 10 minutes separated the two as the 7am hour approached.

It was during the last hour that Chad could not maintain his lead and Ryan was able to pass him and take the lead.

In the end it was Ryan Atkins that not only won the men’s event but was the first to do 50 miles. This earned him not only the $5,000 prize money for being first place male, but an additional $5,000 for being the first to do 50 miles in the event. Ryan’s wife, Lindsay Webster, held on to win the women’s division and the $5,000 prize.

Out of 336 starters, 264 completed the course. The top 5 finishers were;

WOMEN’S

  1. Lindsay Webster – With an impressive 40 miles completed
  2. Sara Knight
  3. Allison Tai
  4. Kayla Kobelin
  5. April Hartwig
  6. Tied for 5th – Alex Roudayna

MEN’S

  1. Ryan Atkins finishing with 50 miles
  2. Chad Trammell also with 50 miles
  3. Glen Racz
  4. Austin Azar
  5. Mark Jones

Overall the pace of the show was good. Will give kudos to the advertisers that had commercials during the show as many were businesses that I as an Obstacle racer would want to do business with.  As I mentioned, the show was focused on the top elite racers, but that was expected. During the TM commercial shown I saw footage of Noah Galloway and I am pretty sure that during the show I saw footage of a local racer when the show was talking about the obstacles in general. It was at about the 19  minute mark, the person was coming out of a water obstacle. Need to try to grab a screenshot.

There is one thing I do not like.. actually it’s the way the show is distributed. You can watch the show on cable or satellite systems, but in order to watch it on the CBS Digital website you need to have a an account of one of the 8 systems shown in the screenshot below. I have a HULU account, but apparently it requires a LIVE TV account. So in order for me to watch this, say on the road via my tablet, I would have to shell out $39.99 per month for the LIVE TV version of HULU? Don’t think so CBS.

In closing, being an older racer myself, 60 years of age, I want to give a shout out to the oldest racers at the event. Bill Redmond, oldest male at the age of 67, completed 15 miles, and the oldest female racer, Lynn Pittman, 50, also completed 15 miles. There were a total of 13 racers, male and female, over the age of 50 in the event. Job well done to them all.

Next up, America’s Toughest Mudder – South. Looking forward to the show from my home turf of Atlanta.

Photos Courtesy of CBS Sports, Tough Mudder 2017, and Gameface Media, Inc. All rights reserved

 

Tough Mudder Extreme Obstacle Challenge 2017

Tough Mudder is giving anyone who chooses to, the opportunity to design one of their obstacles. If your design is chosen as a winner, the obstacle will be tested, and potentially be used at a future Tough Mudder event.

This is the 2nd time TMHQ has run this contest. Last year’s contest’s winner was Daniel Hiscoke from the United Kingdom. He designed something called “Ladders Of Success”, which made it all the way to beta testing. Daniel was even flown to New York to see his dream obstacle tested out. Read more about that here.

We never saw the obstacle after that, which I suppose means enough kinks weren’t worked out to make it official course worthy.

Regardless, now is your chance to take a crack at designing the next cool TM obstacle.

Additional details from TMHQ:

  • Launching today, the competition invites people from all over the world to submit an idea for Tough Mudder’s next new obstacle which could be made into a reality for 2018.
  • The winner will receive flights and accommodation to Las Vegas for our alpha testing, which is the third step of our ‘Innovation Team’s’ 5-step process.
    • Winners will get to watch their obstacle come to life, as well as test others that are being considered for our 2018 obstacle menu.
    • The winner will meet the evil geniuses that come up with Tough Mudder’s obstacles and work alongside the team in developing and bringing the next obstacle to life. 
  • We are accepting nominations from 6/15-6/21 and the Mudder community will help vote on the finalists. The TMHQ Innovation Team will choose a winner on June 30.

The new webpage about how you can enter is here.

X-Warrior Challenge announces ‘X Warrior Wild’ Event in Edmonton

Xwarrior

X-Warrior Challenge announced yesterday that they will be staging a second event in Edmonton, Alberta Canada this year, following the success of the Calgary Stadium Event earlier in May. X also hinted at a different type of event to their Stadium Sprint style race  suggesting that this could be the ‘Wild’ variant of the X-Warrior – taking place in an outdoor setting of some kind. Obstacle racers in Edmonton and Northern Alberta will be very happy to hear this announcement, especially since Spartan Race Canada and other OCR events have withdrawn from the city and the province as a whole this year.

I spoke to Race Director Darcy Chalifoux:

Alberta has such an amazing OCR community, it has been our goal to be able to bring X Warrior to the Edmonton Area. We couldn’t be more excited with the venue and partnerships we have secured. On a personal note, as I’m originally from Edmonton I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this home.

A venue is yet to be announced and registration isn’t yet open for the Edmonton race, but you can head over to X-Warrior challenge on Facebook to stay informed on when and where this event will be taking place.

Tough Mudder Goes Extreme(ly Short)

SKIP THE ARTICLE AND GO STRAIGHT TO APPLICATION

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Tough Mudder, one of the original giants in the OCR space, launched a 10-12 mile grueling obstacle race. Initially, only 75% of people who start go on to finish. It’s designed by military special blah blah blah. As I said, you’ve heard it.

Tough_Mudder_obstacle_Arctic_Enema

But then one day, they added a new event – World’s Toughest Mudder.

“Off brand!!” – They screamed.  “Why are they timing?”- Said a person “WTF!!?!” – Said another.

Then Tough Mudder created Mudderella, It was just like Tough Mudder, but for women, and was purple. Similar cries of confusion were let out across the land.

Over recent years, all of us in the OCR world then had the same conversations and online arguments with Urban Mudder, Tough Mudder Half, Tougher, Toughest, and The Tough Mudder 5k.

And now the one you thought they would never do. The one that if I told you even 2 years ago,  you would have never believed me. The one that was created as a joke Facebook group because that’s how far from reality, OCR fanatics thought it was possible.

Are you ready for…DUN DUN DUN…

A Tough Mudder 1 mile course?

Tough Mudder announces an event they are calling  –“Tough Mudder X – The Toughest Mile On The Planet”.

 

The one mile course consists of 10 Tough Mudder obstacles and 10 “Functional Fitness Workout Zones”. The Zones will have exercises such as pull-ups, box jumps, and wall balls. All obstacles and workout zones are MUST complete. This means there are no penalty loops or penalty alternative exercises. You either complete the obstacle and/or workout zone or keep trying until the race is over.

Additional Highlights:

  • First event is Friday, July 14th at Wild Wings of Oneka, Minnesota. (Which is not a wing place)
  • It is not an open event – You must apply to be chosen or be personally invited.
  • 12 athletes per qualifying heat – Top athlete in each heat moves on.
  • Judges will be present for each obstacle and each “Fitness Zone”.
  • Last chance heat that allows top 12 non winners to move on.
  • One final heat for all of the marbles of $50k prize pool. ($25k to top man and woman)
  • Events to initially air on CBS, with repeats airing on CBS Sports.
  • For those looking to apply- go here.

When we asked TMHQ who they had already invited to this event, we were told:

We put it out to a wide range of athletes including top OCR competitors, Decathletes, Crossfit Pro’s, Ultrarunners, Parkour Athletes, a couple of the Harlem Globetrotters, etc… The event will have some of the best athletes in the world competing against each other”.

Since everything has been under wraps until today it has been hard to get in touch with athletes to confirm their attendance. However, a little birdie told us a certain “Macho Man” has made plans to attend.

Tough Mudder X

The complete press release, which includes TV air times for Tough Mudder X, and Toughest, is below.

CBS SPORTS AND TOUGH MUDDER EXPAND BROADCAST PARTNERSHIP

Tough Mudder Launches Tough Mudder X – The Ultimate Race to Determine Fittest, Fastest Athletes in the World

NEW YORK (June 1, 2017) – CBS Sports and Tough Mudder, Inc., a leading sport, active lifestyle and media brand, have expanded their multi-year media partnership to debut all Tough Mudder programming on the CBS Television Network. CBS will broadcast seven shows this year beginning July 22.

The deal features the launch of the new sports event, Tough Mudder X, named “The Ultimate Race to Determine the Fittest and the Fastest Athletes in the World.” With the new agreement, all Tough Mudder television programming – Tough Mudder X, America’s Toughest Mudder and World’s Toughest Mudder – will now debut on CBS. Encore presentations of the shows will air on CBS Sports Network in prime time.

The two-part Tough Mudder X event debuts August 27 (1:00-2:00 PM, ET) on CBS with the finale on September 3 (4:00-5:00 PM, ET).  Broadcast coverage of America’s Toughest Mudder, the eight-hour, regional overnight competitive race series, begins on CBS on July 22 and culminates with the World’s Toughest Mudder, the grueling 24-hour endurance race held in the Las Vegas desert, airing on December 23. Full broadcast schedule below. CBS Sports Digital will also feature 2017 Tough Mudder events on-demand across CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports apps for mobile and connected devices.

With $50,000 on the line, one of the largest prize pools in the fitness sport and obstacle course racing (OCR) industries, Tough Mudder X will pit top male and female athletes across multiple disciplines, ranging from OCR to HIIT/functional fitness training to racing, against one another. The competition will test their strength, agility and speed over a one-mile course in search of the fittest and fastest athletes in the world. $25,000 will be awarded to both the first place male and female finishers.

“The debut of Tough Mudder X , in partnership with CBS Sports, solidifies our commitment to innovation and continued leadership in the sports event world by debuting the ultimate race in sports that will capture all the hottest elements occupying elite athletes and sports fitness enthusiasts alike,” said Will Dean, Co-Founder and CEO, Tough Mudder, Inc. “Due to the overwhelming success of World’s Toughest Mudder on CBS, the expansion of our partnership to broadcast further positions Tough Mudder as a leading active lifestyle sports brand and video content company. We can think of no better partner than CBS Sports to bring this new sporting event and all of its drama, action, and excitement that makes for compelling sports television to millions of viewers and fans across the United States.”

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Tough Mudder and debut all programming, including the innovative new Tough Mudder X, on CBS,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming for CBS Sports. “We look forward to further showcasing Tough Mudder’s world class athletes and competitions, and all the drama surrounding their biggest events.”

Tough Mudder X is a one-mile course that combines the ultimate physical challenges and mental grit of a Tough Mudder course with the intensity of a timed, functional fitness workout and speed of a world-class mile. Elite athletes will be pushed to the brink of their limits as they conquer 10 of Tough Mudder’s most signature obstacles, including Kong, Everest 2.0 and Funky Monkey – The Revolution, and 10 functional fitness stations known as Workout Zones, in a battle to be the fastest to cross the finish line. 200 selected athletes will compete in qualifying heats with the top 12 male and female finalists progressing to the Final Rounds taking place on the same day. Tough Mudder X will take place on Friday, July 14 in Hugo, Minnesota.

The CBS Sports and Tough Mudder partnership began in August 2016, bringing Tough Mudder events to television for the first time. In 2016, CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network televised a three-part series on World’s Toughest Mudder.

The Tough Mudder broadcast schedule on CBS is as follows (All times Eastern):

  • Saturday, July 22, 4:00-5:00 PM – Toughest Mudder West, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sunday, July 30, 1:00-2:00 PM – Toughest Mudder South, Atlanta, GA
  • Saturday, August 19, 2:00-3:00 PM – Toughest Mudder Northeast, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sunday, August 27, 1:00-2:00 PM – Tough Mudder X Prelims
  • Sunday, September 3, 4:00-5:00 PM – Tough Mudder X Finals, Twin Cities, MN
  • Saturday, October 28, 2:00-3:00 PM – Toughest Mudder Midwest, Chicago, IL
  • Saturday, December 23, 12:00-1:00 PM – World’s Toughest Mudder, Lake Las Vegas, NV

For more information about Tough Mudder X or for interested athletes to sign up to compete, visit https://toughmudder.com/events/what-is-tmx. For more information on Tough Mudder and to see the 2017 schedule of events, visit toughmudder.com. Join the conversation on social by following Tough Mudder on Twitter at @ToughMudder, on Instagram @Tough_Mudder, on Facebook at facebook.com/toughmudder, on Snapchat at Tough.Mudder and on YouTube at YouTube.com/ToughMudder.

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About Tough Mudder, Inc.:

Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder Full event series of 10-12 mile obstacle courses, Tough Mudder Inc. has since grown to become a leading sports, active lifestyle and media brand. The brand includes: Mini Mudder, a 1-mile obstacle course designed for kids ages 7-12; Tough Mudder 5K, an accessible yet rewarding challenge packing signature Tough Mudder obstacles into a 3.1-mile course; Tough Mudder Half, an obstacle course challenge bringing the thrills of Tough Mudder to a 5-mile course; Tougher Mudder, a competitive start wave that takes place during all Tough Mudder Weekends; Toughest Mudder, an eight-hour, overnight competition series; World’s Toughest Mudder, a grueling 24-hour endurance competition; and Tough Mudder X, a one-mile short format course combining the most challenging elements of Tough Mudder with a functional fitness workout. The brand also encompasses an extremely vibrant engaging social and digital community and serves as a destination for fitness, nutrition and wellness content delivered across multiple platforms. The Tough Mudder family of brands and online community is united by a commitment to promoting courage, personal accomplishment and teamwork through unconventional, life-changing experiences. With more than 2.5 million participants globally to date, Tough Mudder Inc. will host more than 130 events worldwide in 2017 in nearly a dozen countries, including Asia, Australia and more through its partnerships with IMG, Seroja and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). More than 20 of the world’s leading brands are sponsorship and content distribution partners, including Merrell, Jeep, Vega, Amazon, Olympus, For Goodness Shakes, Lucozade Sport, Aflac, Nexcare, Bosch, TREK, Head & Shoulders, L’Oreal Men Expert, Käserei Loose, Snapchat, Live Stream, Sky Sports, CBS, CBS Sports, ESPN Media Distribution and The CW. To join the conversation, follow Tough Mudder on Facebook at facebook.com/toughmudder, on Twitter @ToughMudder, and on Instagram @Tough_Mudder.

About CBS Sports:
CBS Sports, a year-round leader in television sports, broadcasts a portfolio of events on the CBS Television Network, including THE NFL ON CBS; “Thursday Night Football;” college basketball, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship; golf, including The Masters®, PGA Championship and PGA TOUR; college football, including the SEC ON CBS; and CBS SPORTS SPECTACULAR. In addition, the division includes CBS SPORTS NETWORK, the 24-hour home of CBS Sports; produces INSIDE THE NFL for SHOWTIME; and partners with CBS SPORTS RADIO and CBSSports.com in creating recognized leaders in sports radio and digital.

CBS Sports Network is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 221 and Dish Network Channel 158. For more information, including a full programming schedule and how to get CBS Sports Network, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com.

Media Contacts:

For Tough Mudder PR:

Angela Alfano, angela.alfano@toughmudder.com

Jodi Kovacs, jodi.kovacs@toughmudder.com

For CBS Sports Communications: 

Dan Sabreen, dsabreen@cbs.com

 

The American Ninja Warrior Experience – Fans and Competitors: Come One, Come All

If you are a fan of American Ninja Warrior…
If you have a favorite Ninja…
If you train at a “Ninja Gym”…
If you love being challenged by new obstacles…
If you like racing against the best of the best, American Ninja Warrior Experience is for you. Fans and athletes of all ages and ability levels – spectator to pro – are welcome.  This is an immersive event with something for everyone.  Pssst…your kids (and you) can meet your Ninja heroes.  With the backing of NBC and Universal Brand Development, American Ninja Warrior Experience is sure to be high quality, challenging, and fun.

Here are the down and dirty details:

I know. I know.  Those aren’t a lot of details.  How much will it cost?  Which Ninjas will be there?  Is there swag and bling for competitors?  Obstacle Racing Media is in contact with Tom McCormack, Senior Vice President of Live Events at The ATS Team, and we will bring you the answers to these questions and more as they become available.  For now, you might want to revisit your Fall 2017 OCR calendar, especially if you live in/near Atlanta or Houston. This new brand in the OCR market is sure to be an event worth attending and fun for the entire family.

Read the full Press Release below.


NEWS RELEASE

NBC AND UNIVERSAL BRAND DEVELOPMENT COLLABORATE WITH
THE ATS TEAM TO LAUNCH

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR EXPERIENCE

Touring Obstacle Courses From the Emmy®- Nominated Hit NBC Series Challenge
 Fans of All Ages to Test Their Own Ninja Skills

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif, MAY 22, 2017 – NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” (ANW), the premiere obstacle course competition series that is revolutionizing sports entertainment, is coming directly to fans through an immersive live event experience geared for the whole family, it was announced today. Created in close collaboration with NBC, Universal Brand Development and The ATS Team, the specialists who design and build the obstacles and courses for the show, the American Ninja Warrior Experience will give fans of all ages an opportunity to test their “ninja skills.” Tickets for the American Ninja Warrior Experience will go on sale in June, with the first event scheduled for the fall of 2017.

Bringing together the show’s fan-favorite obstacles including, the Warped Wall, Quintuple Steps, Salmon Ladder and many more, the American Ninja Warrior Experience allows participants of all fitness levels to compete against friends and other athletes on a multi-stage adult open course. The best adult open course competitors can even earn a chance to run in the Pro Course Competition against the best Ninja Warrior athletes in the world. Pro-athletes also will be offering tips and tricks during adult workshops. Event attendees also will have the unique opportunity to be spectators and watch the best-of-the-best compete in pro-competitions.

Youth competitors will have a chance to get up-close and personal with professional athletes while they learn proper obstacle techniques during one of the many workshops held throughout the day. Kids also will revel in the fun of competing on two youth open courses, which will feature smaller versions of the obstacles seen on TV with varying degrees of difficulties.

“We’re incredibly proud to announce our partnership with NBC and Universal Brand Development. Together, with a groundbreaking show, we will bring the American Ninja Warrior Experience to cities around the country and give people of all ages the chance to compete on the official obstacles from the show,” said Tom McCormack, Senior Vice President of Live Events at The ATS Team. “This is set to be the authentic and fun, family friendly ‘American Ninja Warrior’ fan festival that audiences have been asking for.”

“Now in its ninth season, ‘American Ninja Warrior’ has become a national sensation, with millions of adults and children tuning in every week,” said Carol Nygren, Vice President, Worldwide Live Entertainment, Universal Brand Development. “The show inspires everyday people to test their own athletic abilities at home, and we’re excited to collaborate with NBC and The ATS Team to build the American Ninja Warrior Experience for the fans, bringing some of the show’s most popular obstacles to participants of all ages and all fitness levels.”

For additional information visit www.ANWexperience.com

About American Ninja Warrior
Now in its ninth season, American Ninja Warrior has become a national sensation with over 6 million people tuning in every week to watch incredible athletes and ordinary people alike challenge themselves mentally and physically on the most daunting obstacle courses ever seen on TV. The series has become a fan favorite for families and young adults spurning an entire athletic community to train year round for the show, build their own backyard courses and participate in American Ninja Warrior style competitions. Season 9 will air on June 12 on NBC.

About the ATS Team
The ATS Team is an international entertainment specialty company with offices in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and London. Our work can be seen in 193 countries. With complete entertainment industry solutions we offer development, production services, set construction, challenge and stunt design rigging, underwater and high angle life safety, camera solutions, special effects, and staging/truss rentals for all aspects of live and pre-recorded productions. Current clientele includes Netflix, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Hulu, Amazon, Disney, and many more.

About Universal Brand Development
Universal Brand Development globally drives expansion of the company’s intellectual properties, franchises, characters and stories through innovative physical and digital products, content, and consumer experiences.  Along with franchise brand management, Universal Brand Development’s core businesses include Consumer Products, Games and Digital Platforms, and Live Entertainment based on the company’s extensive portfolio of intellectual properties created by Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, and NBCUniversal cable and television.  Universal Brand Development is a business segment of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and part of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).

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CONTACTS:

THE ATS TEAM
Tom McCormack
SVP, Live Events
tom@ANWexperience.com

NBC
Traci Saulsberry
818-777-6649
Traci.saulsberry@nbcuni.com

Leslie Schwartz
818-777-3233
Leslie.schwartz@nbcuni.com

Kevin Castech
818-777-4816
Kevin.castech@nbcuni.com

UNIVERSAL BRAND DEVELOPMENT
Lauren Purnell
818-777-9311
Lauren.purnell@nbcuni.com

 

The Complete Guide to Toughest Mudder

I can picture it now… The Tough Mudder team is held up in a room trying to figure out what kind of event they can come up with to both bring together their most devout followers from the World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) Community as well as possibly entice the average Joe racer to consider THE most epic of obstacle race down the road. If you were to create a “Baby” WTM experience what would it look like? What can we do that is more badass than a Tough Mudder and kind of resembles that 24 hour sufferfest but is something doable for most people and how do we include the most unique pieces of WTM so that we have a totally different event that people want to both participate in as well as interesting to watch on TV? Well you need to have this event go for a long distance or time in order to elicit a similar effect as WTM. You also have to have that unique component of darkness so it’s going to have to be at night. Lastly, we need to make sure we up the ante on the obstacles because those are our staple! Throw all of those things together and you come up with…Toughest Mudder?!?! While the name may not be all that original, the events are and I think they will bring a whole new experience to the sport of OCR!

Ok so now we have this awesome new event that’s going to attract a lot of new people to our sport but if these virgins step into these races without proper education then what you could end up with is a train wreck of athletes who show up ill-equipped and unprepared for what lies ahead of them. Such was the case after WTM moved to Vegas where this race was basically a new environment to everyone. In order to avoid issues that could occur from confusion for what will be necessary in the seemingly warmer environment of the Nevada dessert like the often asked question “do I need a wetsuit?” World’s Toughest Mudder Facebook Community Admin, Keith Allen, came up with the idea that maybe I should write both a Nutrition and Thermoregulation Hack to help people prep for WTM. I feel that these have a been a great help to many a competitor so when I heard about some of the difficulties after the premier of the Toughest Mudder series I figured this series needed its own “manual” so-to-speak. The following is more of a guide than it is an article and it is based on my five years of experience at WTM as well as my varied knowledge from within the sport of OCR since I began my involvement back in 2010. When necessary, I have also sought out input from others in the field whom I respect and I feel can add some valuable information. There are many ways to approach a race such as Toughest Mudder but it’s my hope that this piece will be a reference and at least help guide you as to how you might take on Toughest Mudder.

Toughest Mudder is NOT WTM!
For those who have participated in WTM and are now doing a Toughest Mudder, let’s get something straight right off the bat. You pretty much cannot approach these two events the same at all. Your pre-race prep, gear selection, nutrition, and most of all your racing pace/ tactics will pretty much be entirely different. Sure, you will most likely have everything that you need but how you utilize the gear and your race experiences will only slightly resemble WTM. I will try to break things down as best I can so you can be ready for what you will face at Toughest. Remember, for many participants WTM is more of the ultimate sufferfest. Toughest Mudder, on the other hand, is a full-fledged OCR!

Another key thing to realize about Toughest Mudder versus WTM is the difference in the environmental stresses between the two races. One of the most difficult aspects of WTM is the thermoregulation issues that can go on with each participant. The human body can adjust to being too warm; the body can also adjust to the cold. However, when you ask your body to quickly switch from being warm to being cold all while you are fighting overall fatigue it can sometimes mean flirting with a medical DQ due to hypothermia. God help you if you make the mistake of going from overheating in a wetsuit to actually removing that wetsuit rather than just venting it or taking it down. This will, most certainly, not end well as the body is now in “heat loss mode” and before it can readjust you will be hypothermic which at WTM often means your race is over. The Toughest Mudder races are different because you will start the race at night when the temps have already dropped. Therefore you will start cold and since the race ends not long after sunrise there will not be much change in temperatures overall. This means you will most likely never need a wholesale gear change, but only slight changes which will help out immensely. This is why having flexibility in your gear is much more important at these events but I will go more into this in the “Gear” section below.

APPROACH TO RACING
Race Day Prep: Toughest Mudder starts at 12am. Pretty much no participant is used to this. Most of us race early in the morning and even WTM started at noon in 2016. With this night start you have to be careful how you approach your daily nutrition as the wrong choice of a food that is difficult to digest during the latter half of the day could land you in the Port-a-Potty early in the race. To avoid this scenario you might want to consider flipping your daily diet upside down so that you are eating your typical pre-race foods closer to the event.

I would also plan on getting to the event location as early as TMHQ will allow you (9pm?). Remember that this event is new to Tough Mudder as well so expect things to go a little rocky for the time-being. Getting there early will also allow you a better staging area for your food and gear.

Remember this is an eight hour event so you should be able to run a lot of this race. Three time WTM champ and winner of the inaugural Toughest Mudder race, Ryan Atkins, actually recommends your pace for Toughest be “comfortably uncomfortable.” This is basically what exercise scientists call a high Zone 3/ low Zone 4 on the Heart Rate Zone scale. For a simple general calculation for using your heart rate (HR) to pace you can use this formula:

 (180-your age) + 5 to 10 = Heart Rate Goal in beats/min for the race

This type of pacing should allow you to run a lot and keep you moving as long as you are taking in the proper nutrition. Ryan told me that he thinks your best bet is to “shoot for even splits for your lap times.” Combining your monitoring of your HR and checking your lap times should keep you going at a decent clip and allow you to properly gauge whether you will reach you distance goal for this event.

One of the other major differences between WTM and Toughest Mudder is the “pit” area… or lack thereof at Toughest. The pit station we have become accustomed to at WTM has been reduced to a small area inside a tent within the festival area. This tent also serves as the participant gear tent for the regular Tough Mudder so this all sounds like a major pain in the you know what. Given the fact that this is actually off of the course tells me you need to plan on making limited trips to this stage area. If you have a pit crew then have a list prepared for him/her ahead of time so that person knows what to bring you and have him/her meet you at the proper spot to hand off your gear and nutrition. This will greatly speed the process and decrease the congestion in the staging test. I plan on using my Hydration pack to carry enough nutrition so that I will only need to pit after every other lap.

GEAR SELECTION
Depending on the location of the Toughest race, you could springtime rainy weather, summer time warm weather, or a feeling of nip in the mountain air of Whistler. My recommendation is to maybe not bring ALL of your gear…but bring more than you think you will need. It’s better to have it and not use it than to wish you would have brought something. If you are purchasing gear for these events I am a big fan of versatility. The more ways you can use an item then more value it will bring to you. As an example, there is pretty much no point in having a 5mm full wetsuit for a Toughest Mudder unless you plan on walking the entire thing on a cool night. A good plan is to have clothing that you can vent or partially remove should you get hot or if there is a portion of the course where you remain dry and don’t need the extra insulation. Items such as a quick drying windbreaker, possibly a front zip short wetsuit, and a Neptune Thermoregulation System all allow you to use them in a variety of temperatures and in a variety of ways to provide you a lot of flexibility during a lap to make sure that you stay comfortable. The Neptune allows you add chemical body warmers (you can choose how many you need based on the environmental exposure of the event) and easily wear a jacket over it to help keep you covered. Should you get hot you simply open your jacket to vent the heat. Worst case scenario you can dump the body warmers mid lap. Another item that is recommended by WTM vet Keith Allen is the Hyperflex 50/50 Polyolefin Top. “This shirt/vest can be layered over the top of a base layer to help keep you warm during the coldest portions of the race and then quickly removed between laps should you get too warm or it can be worn by itself depending on your needs.” The one downside is that this top cannot be vented so you still risk overheating mid-lap but at least it can be quickly removed in between laps if necessary.

Certain items can present issues based on their design. The problem with using something like Frogskins is it cannot be vented nor easily removed. In fact, Battlegrounds Battle Corps racer and WTM vet, Leah Hensley, told me “I wore my Frogskins during one of the races at the 2016 OCRWC and one of the biggest issues was the lack of venting and how freaking hard it is to get on and off. It’s so damn tight you can’t even lift the shirt to get air in to vent it!”

The point of reviewing this information is to understand how your plan to use your gear to keep you moving at the fastest pace possible. I have listed some of the items that I recommend you have for this event as well as some that I don’t recommend below. This is not a complete gear list by any means but it’s a start!

Recommended

NOT Recommended

  • Full wetsuit over 3mm
  • Frogskins Top
  • Insulated clothing of any kind that will hold excess water
  • Gloves (they usually don’t improve your grip)… and they make dry obstacles wet! L
  • Neoprene socks (these won’t insulate your feet as well as Medium weight Smartwool socks will)
  • Sunscreen… The race is at night!!!

NUTRITION
The old saying goes “you are what you eat.” In regards to racing, what you eat before and during an event can definitely determine whether you have a good race or a bad one. The key thing to understand when it comes to race nutrition is that you must find what works for you. This means it’s a good idea to trial and error, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider what “Science” says as well when considering what and when you should be consuming your nutrition! J

Research shows that the average endurance athlete can absorb about 200-350 calories/ hour while exercising (assuming they practice eating while training). If you are following the guidelines of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, this will equate to 40-50 gr of carbs, 10 gr of protein and 5 or so gr of fat (about the content of a Cliff Bar) per hour. The fact that these events are only 8 hours versus the 24 hours at WTM means you can get away with eating less but I would still use this as a goal for each lap. I also recommend at least some of this food be taken in during the lap and then loading up in the staging area.

Some key points to remember prior to the event:

  • Start carb loading about 5 days before the event. Take in a 30-50% more carbs that you have been eating. I even utilize a carb depletion phases during training to allow my body to adjust to fueling in this state. I do this again starting about 13 days out and then at 5 days I start loading.
  • On the day prior to the event make sure that you eat a lot of carbs while limiting your excess fat at every meal. Please be careful on the portions on both Friday and Saturday during the day prior to the event. The last thing you want is to miss-time your bowel movements and have to hit the head during the event. You also want to up your electrolyte content on the day prior to the race since the Sodium/Potassium pump system has a correction period of about 18 hours. The morning of the event should include a high carb and low fat meal. Fat not only slows the absorption of the meal, but it also can cause gastric distress during exercise leading to “the trots.” Fat, however, is not the only culprit of digestive issues during exercise. Keep in mind that single source sugar can also cause problems so try not to eat too much fructose or sucrose at one time before nor during the race. This is the reason that products like Gatorade and Tailwind utilize two forms of sugar in their products. Another thing to consider is the fact this event starts in what is basically the middle of the night will throw most people off so I think you might almost be better off flipping your meals on the Saturday of the race. For example, my dinner (with my usual race day breakfast foods) will be around 8pm. Then I will have a Clif Bar around 10pm and my 32 oz of Gatorade from 11pm-12am when the race begins. This is the same routine as my normal race morning.

Keep in mind, you must eat and drink constantly throughout the event in order to keep fueled. If you wait until you are hungry or thirty to replenish then you have already failed!!! It takes a minimum of about 18-24 hours to replenish your muscle glycogen stores after strenuous exercise much less while you are still moving when your digestion isn’t all that efficient during exercise.

Some key nutrition/hydration points during the race:

  • I suggest having an electrolyte drink either in your hydration pack or at least as your main source of fluids in the pit. Liquids absorb quickly so this will help you immensely. Tailwind seems to be the most highly recommended for this purpose. During the pit stops, have a plan with about what you need to eat so you get enough calories. You will get less hungry as you become more tired. This is a natural effect as your body is trying to conserve digestion energy to keep you moving figuring that you will eventually stop to fuel but as endurance athletes we can’t stop moving. You simply have to keep eating! Again, this is where calorically dense foods and engineered foods help you get in those calories.
  • Due to the higher level of intensity during this event versus WTM it will be much more difficult for your digestive system to do its job. This is the reason most ultra distance runners resort to liquid only nutrition such as Tailwind. I recommend that Toughest Mudder participants limit their “real food” intake to avoid the increased possibility of having issues. Instead, I believe it is more prudent to rely on “engineered” foods because these supplements will not only be easier to digest and provide less bulk but they are also easier to carry and faster to ingest. I will include a list of recommend types of nutrition at the end of this section.
  • As far as hydration goes, your body needs about 8 oz of water every 15 minutes (1 liter per hour) during exercise. The easiest way to ensure you get this is to have a hydration pack but as long as you drink when you can then you will be fine. I drank about 35 oz per lap (14 laps in 25 hours) last year at WTM and my level was spot on for me. A great gauge on this is how often you urinate. If you are doing so once a lap then cut back on the fluids. If it’s like once in the first three hours then you want to pick up the pace!

Nutrition List

  • Liquid Options
    • Gatorade
    • Tailwind
    • Hammer Nutrition
    • Cytomax
    • Endurox R4
    • Acclerade
    • CarboPro
  • Gels/Gummies
    • AccelGels/ GU/ Boom
    • Clif Blocks/ Gatorade Chews/ Sport Beans
    • Apple Sauce/ Fruit Sauces
  • Energy Bars
    • Clif Bars/ Powerbars/ Complete Protein Cookies
    • Granola Bars/ Nutrigrain Bars/ Snickers Bar
  • Other options
    • Beef jerky
    • Pickles/ Pickle Juice/ Pickle Juice pops
    • Mustard Packets
    • Hammer Salt Tabs
    • Hammer Perpetuem Solids
    • Stimulants- Cellucor/ caffeine pills/ Monster/ Red Bull

Remember that every person is different in how they like to approach a race. This guide represents a coherent approach toward tackling Toughest Mudder. Take this collection of information and use it as a base to develop a plan of attack as you prepare for the Toughest Mudder events. It is my goal to help prepare you so that you can give your best effort out there when the rubber hits the road… or trail in this instance.

Good luck and Godspeed!