America’s Toughest Mudder West – Broadcast Review

It seems that Obstacle Racing is finally moving into primetime TV. When I first started reviewing obstacle racing 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, the “Tough Mudder – The Challenge Within” on the CW’s, The Seed website and “The Ultimate Beastmaster” was on Netflix. 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 obstacle racing 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

 

John Tackett

John Tackett is a project manager for a large telecommunications company – the one with the death star like logo. When not sitting in front of a computer monitor, John can be found running or cycling the streets of Atlanta and getting muddy in the hills of North Georgia. John, aka Fireball, is a member of the Georgia Obstacle Racers and Mud Runners (GORMR), The Grey Berets and the Dirty Old Men OCR teams as well as a GORUCK GRT. If you see him at events, ask him for a shot of Fireball, he is usually carrying a bottle (or 2.)
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