Tough Mudder X 2018 Part One


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Tough Mudder X took place on Friday June 8, 2018. We got so much content that TMX 2018 will be one of those “2 parters from live events” that you have come to know and appreciate from ORM.

Today’s episode starts Rich Abend, who we spoke to the evening before TMX began. Rich is the Vice President of Global Partnerships for Tough Mudder. He sat down to discuss his long career with health and wellness brands, plus what he and TMHQ are up to this year and beyond.

Then the Friday athlete interviews begin fast and furious. We speak to:

Brooke Ence
Shelby Stalnaker
Emily Abbott
Christin Panchik
Shawn Ramirez
Ryan Atkins (bonus appearance by Jesse Bull)
Sam Dancer
Talayna Fortunato
Haley Adamssss

Be sure to watch Tough Mudder X, this Summer on CBS July 14, 21 and 28. 1pm EST So set your DVRs now.

 

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Show Notes:

Rich Abend on Cheddar.

Lots of Great Tough Mudder X 2018 Photos

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

Ryan and Lindsay get VO2 Max Tests


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HumanN (makers of Beet Elite), sent Ryan and Lindsay Atkins to have their VO2 Max tested. Lindsay took questions from the OCR community about those tests, and we attempted to answer them here.  Spoiler Alert: We also learn about the law of diminishing returns!

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

 

Ragnar Relay and Ragnar Trail Series

runragnar.com Enter code ORM18ALL for $60 OFF any 2018 Ragnar Relay

Show Notes:

Law of Diminishing Returns

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

Tough Mudder Introduces Their 2018 Pro Team/Competitive Series

12:20pm Update – Here is the podcast interview.

In September of 2017, TMHQ announced the first ever Tough Mudder Pro Team. Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, Hunter McIntyre and Stef Bishop had already been featured on most of TM’s online content, so few were surprised.  Today, the 2018 team is being announced much sooner in the year. TMHQ revealed this morning that Ryan, Lindsay, and Hunter are all coming back, and they have added two more women. The first is Corinna Coffin. Corinna had been mostly dormant in OCR since BattleFrog folded in the fall of 2016. She came back last July to win the first ever Tough Mudder X.

The second woman is Allison Tai. Along with being the favorite guest of The World’s Toughest Podcast, Allison won last year’s Holy Grail Leaderboard (Total competitive miles) with 305 total miles. Stef Bishop is not returning to the team. Stef won World’s Toughest Mudder in 2016, then had a relatively disappointing 2017 Tough Mudder season.

Matt B. Davis spoke to TMHQ’s Eli Hutchison and Corinna Coffin to discuss some of the news. The podcast episode will be released later today, so be sure to download it so you can listen to it on your next run.

Matt and Eli will be talking about the evolution of the competitive series. Many Mudders enjoyed the Tougher and Toughest events in 2017, as well as Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder. Tough Mudder is now calling these events, Fittest, Fastest, and Toughest, with the culmination being World’s Toughest Mudder on November 10th and 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.

Check out the video introducing the different championship series here!

Photo Credits: Tough Mudder

Planning and Training for World’s Toughest Mudder Success

World’s Toughest Mudder is a BIG THING. You can’t just show up and wing it. Success at WTM demands both careful planning and intelligent training, which is what this series will be about. Before submitting these articles, I thought I’d ask a guy I know what he considers to be the optimal way of approaching WTM. The good news is that his approach and mine were essentially the same. The bad news is that he was super concise, so I’m here to expand on it and flesh it out into usable tools and guidelines. Oh yeah, here’s what he said:

Think through every possible detail/angle carefully, practice it, then systematically kick ass. – Ryan Atkins


PLANNING


I am not one for clichés, but I can’t put it any better than these, so here is a short list of planning clichés :

  • If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” – a bunch of memes
  • No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” – Helmut von Moltke
  • “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
  • Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

When your plans meet the real WTM, the real WTM wins. Few things go exactly as planned. Mistaken assumptions chow down on your asses. The most brilliant plan loses touch with reality, and if you’re not careful you’ll follow it down the crapper.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Planning-Invaders

OK, what’s the deal, Dobos? To paraphrase Hamlet: “to plan or not to plan, that is the question.” Well, the answer is a qualified “yes.” DO absolutely definitely plan thoroughly, but DO NOT place absolute reliance on your plan. Accept that your beautiful plan will start falling apart at some point during the event, likely much sooner and in more and shittier ways than you had anticipated. Make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for “plan B”, “plan C”, or just going into survival mode. Reality will not yield to your plans, so you must adapt to the actual circumstances at hand.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Plan

The first step to planning is to understand as much as possible of what will go down in Atlanta next year at WTM. Do all the obvious things: watch videos of past WTMs, read race reports, go to WTM groups and pages online, look over maps of past WTM courses, etc. That will give you a good idea of what challenges will be presented to you. The other big thing you need to understand is exactly what you will be bringing to the show. Where is your fitness now? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How much improvement can you realistically expect in those by the time Atlanta rolls around? (That last refers to TRAINING, which I’ll come to later in this series)

World's-Toughest-Mudder-2016-course-map

As you can see, it’s very, VERY easy to get hopelessly buried in details, so you need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Try to group things together into categories of challenges that you need to overcome for success.

The challenges presented by WTM can be boiled down to 3 big ones:
1. dealing with the cold and wet conditions

2. being on your feet and moving for 24 hours

3. completing as many obstacles as efficiently as possible

I have cleverly triaged those challenges in order of importance: 1 is to survive, 2 is to complete, and 3 is to perform. Number 1 can end your race prematurely. It has done so time and again, to rookies and veterans and elite racers. It is the first thing you need to figure out how to deal with because without it the rest of your grand plans are just so much fantasy.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Cold-Wet-Tired

WTM Challenge #1: The Horrible Laws of Thermodynamics

Regardless of where and when WTM is held, it’s always cold. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check and monitor the weather forecast as race-day approaches, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security. Every single person at WTM this year – racers AND crew – knew that the single biggest challenge, the #1 reason for DNFs, was going to be cold. Just like it was last year and the year before, and so onto into the mists of prehistory. However, knowing the problem is only half the problem. You need a solution or, preferably, several solutions.

Problem: you’re cold
Solution: dress warmly, with layers and stuff. No problem, right?

Well…not exactly. The other thing every single person knew was that you would be wet for pretty much the last 22 hours or so. Therefore that bitchin’ fleece hoodie you got yourself, far from keeping you warm, will be worse than useless once it’s soaked. That’s why you see almost everyone wearing wet-suits from late afternoon through to well after sunrise.

Problems: you’re cold and wet
Solution: get a wet-suit. Problem solved, right?

Nope. We need to understand the basics of heat transfer, and exactly what clothing can and cannot do for you. Time for a thought experiment…

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Campfire

 

Take 4 identical water bottles. Fill 2 of them with cold water, and 2 of them with hot water. Now go dig up the toastiest sleeping bag you have. Bring out that 800 fill -40C rated monster, the one that has you sweating inside of 12 seconds if you dare crawl into it in anything warmer than -20 conditions. If you don’t have one, borrow from a friend.

Place one cold water bottle inside the sleeping bag way down at the foot end of the bag. Place a hot bottle up near the head end of the bag. Place the other 2 bottles a fair distance apart on the floor outside the sleeping bag. BTW, this is happening in your living room, so the ambient temp is around 22C. Go re-watch 2 hours of your fave WTM coverage, then come back and check the temperatures of the water in the bottles. What do you think you’ll find?

<Spoiler Alert>Let’s start with the easy ones: outside the sleeping bag. Both of those should be pretty close to room temperature. Heat always travels from warmer to colder, so the hot bottle will have lost heat to the room, while the cold one will have absorbed heat from the room. Both bottles will be around 22C. Easy peasy. Now, what about the sleeping bag?

At first blush, it’s tempting to assume that the ones that were in the insanely warm sleeping bag would be warmed up. Sadly, first blush is dead wrong in this case. What you’d actually find is that the cold one stayed quite cold – much colder than room temperature – and the hot one stayed quite hot – much warmer than room temperature. This is because a sleeping bag is simply a thermal insulator. It neither heats nor cools, it simply insulates whatever is inside it from whatever is outside.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Thermodynamics-Batman

Clothing, including wet-suits, are the same: they generate exactly 0 heat. None. Zilch. Bupkus. SFA. If you’re freezing and throw on a 20mm wet-suit with a dryrobe over top, it will NOT warm you up. At least, not quickly enough.

At this point, you may be asking “why wear anything at all?” Well, the reason wearing insulating clothing works is because your body is constantly generating heat. Even if you’re curled up in the fetal position in your crew tent, your body is still generating heat because it needs to keep things at around body temperature in order to function properly. In the above scenario, you will slowly warm up as the heat generated by your basal metabolic rate gets trapped inside the dryrobe/wet-suit combo until you eventually get toasty warm. You need to know how to speed this process up, so keep reading.

There are several ways to warm yourself up much faster. The most enjoyable one is called “shared body warmth”, and all I’ll say about it is that you had better know your crew very, very well. The most effective strategy when you are in your pit is to ingest something hot, like a bowl of hot oatmeal or steaming cups of coffee or soup. The next pit tactic is to pour hot (not scalding – be careful) liquid into your wetsuit. The most important way may be less obvious, but it is the most critical because you can do it throughout the event: MOVE.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Sufferfests-Cold-Guy-at-Tough-Guy

The only way you can move is through your muscles doing work. Human physiology is laughably inefficient, and most of the feeble trickle of chemical energy that we manage to generate in order to move gets wasted as heat. This heat builds up until your core temperature starts to get too high, and your body starts dumping it by pumping blood (essentially like radiator fluid in this scenario) out to your skin and limbs. Your clothing traps some of this heat, creating a progressively warmer micro-environment right next to your body surface and voila: you warm up!

Your body knows this even if you don’t, and has come up with a fantastically inefficient pattern of muscle contractions to cope with cold stress. Inefficient at moving, but super-awesome at generating heat. It’s called shivering. Shivering is ok, but it’s exhausting and makes things like Operation hilariously impossible. Your goal is to spend muscular energy moving forward, not jittering madly in place, so work on moving forward as hard as you can. Conversely, if you know that you’ll be forced to go slowly, whether from exhaustion or injury, then dress more warmly.

Even with all of the above dialed in, there is still a big make-or-break challenge related to overcoming the wet coldness: the wetsuit. The next (much shorter) article will delve into the hows and whys and dos and don’ts of WTM wetsuits.

World's-Toughest-Mudder-Wetsuit-Crack-Memecenter.com

OCR World Championship 2017 Results

OCR World Championships Crowns Jonathan Albon and Nicole Mericle as 3K Short Course Champions Each claiming the $10,000 First Prize Purse

MEN’S PRO DIVISION

  1. Jonathan Albon- UK 17:23.6
  2. Ryan Atkins – CANADA 18:00.3
  3. Ben Kinsinger – USA 19:47.2

WOMEN’S PRO DIVISION

  1. Nicole Mericle – USA 20:24.1
  2. Lindsay Webster – CANADA 20:59.1
  3. Karin Karlsson – SWEDEN 22:21.7

Blue Mountains, Ontario – The world’s best obstacle racing athletes from sixty-seven nations converged on Blue Mountain Resort for the 3K Short Course Championships as part of the OCR Championships Weekend. For the second year, athletes made their way to the picturesque Blue Mountain for one of the most challenging and exciting short courses in the world.

The OCR World Championships Short Course featured nearly 3,000 athletes from sixty-seven nations and total prize purses over $43,500 disbursed among age group and pro divisions. The Friday event featured a 3-Kilometer course with fourteen obstacles from races and builders around the world. The athletes battled a challenging Farmer Carry from Green Beret Challenge and show-stopping Hanging Walls from Indian Mud Run. The Platinum Rig obstacle continued to test the athlete’s strength and perseverance.

With rain coming in right before the start of the Pro Division it meant that the already grip based obstacles were even more challenging when wet. Many athletes struggled at the new Northman Race obstacle and Platinum Rig. Both requiring grip strength and determination.

Athletes qualified to race from all over the world and this international race showcased the best in both the Pro Division and also the best Age Group racers in the world.

In addition to claiming the 3K Short Course World Title Jonathan Albon took home $10,000 in prize money. Joining Jonathan Albon on the podium was Ryan Atkins and Ben Kinsinger. On the women’s side, Nicole Mericle finished in the top place followed by Lindsay Webster and Karin Karlsson.

OCR World Championships Crowns Jonathan Albon and Lindsay Webster as 15K Classic Course Champions

MEN’S PRO DIVISION

  1. Jonathan Albon – UK 1:33:48
  2. Ryan Atkins – Canada 1:37:30
  3. Ryan Woods – USA 1:40:41

WOMEN’S PRO DIVISION

  1. Lindsay Webster – Canada 2:01:43
  2. Nicole Mericle – USA 2:09:33 3
  3. Karin Karlsson – Sweden 2:14:58

The Saturday event featured a 15-Kilometer course with over forty-seven obstacles from obstacle races and obstacle builders around the world. With obstacles coming from as far as Sandstorm Race in the United Arab Emirates and as close as Mud Hero in Ontario and Northman Race in Quebec as well as eleven other race series from around the world. The race showcased some of the most unique and exciting obstacles in the industry. Athletes qualified to race from all over the world and this unique race showcased the best in both the Pro Division and also the best Age Group racers in the world.

Jonathan Albon continued to prove he is the top athlete in the world continuing his streak as undefeated at the OCR World Championships against the best in the world. Lindsay Webster won her third straight OCR World Championships.

Jonathan Albon took the lead early in the race and never looked back. Besting the rest of the men’s field by nearly four minutes. Ryan Atkins finished second for the fourth time in the four years of the event. Ryan Woods bested Hunter McIntyre for the third spot on the podium.

In the women’s pro division Lindsay Webster earned her third OCR World Championship title
winning 2015, 2016, and now 2017 15K Classic Distance. Nicole Mericle led most of the race but had difficulties at Skull Valley one of the final obstacles which opened the door for Webster to pass Mericle. Karin Karlsson ran a solid race pacing herself along the way to claim the third spot on the podium for the second time this weekend.

In addition to claiming the 15K Classic Distance World Title Jonathan Albon took home $10,000 in prize money. Joining Albon on the podium was Ryan Atkins and Ryan Wood. On the women’s side, Lindsay Webster earned her $10,000 prize for first followed by Nicole Mericle and Karin Karlsson.

In just four years, OCR World Championships has become the premier championship for athletes globally in the obstacle course racing industry and continues to set standards for excellence. Bringing together not only athletes but also race organizers in a truly OCR United effort.CR World

OCRWC 2017 Team Results

Pro Men’s Team Division

  1. Ryan Atkins, Ryan Wood, Hunter McIntyre 46:10
  2. Jonathan Albon, Conor Hancock, James Appleton 46:15
  3. Nickolaj Dam, Renaldas Bugys, Leon Kofoed 47:14

Pro Women’s Team Division Pro

  1. Nicole Mericle, Lindsay Webster, Rea Kolbl 57:55
  2. Linnea Ivarsson, Anna Svensson, Karin Karlsson 58:43
  3. Ashley Samples, Jacqueline Krekow, Jamie Stiles 1:13:44

Co-ed Team Division

  1. Tiffany Palmer Brakken Kraker, Brian Gowiski 52:04
  2. Wojciech Sobierajski, Piotr Lobodzinski, Malgorzata Szaruga 54:33  Thomas Van Tonder, Trish Bahlman, Bradley Chaase 54:56
  3. Thomas Van Tonder, Trish Bahlman, Bradley Chaase 54:56

Complete OCR World Championship 2017 Results 3K

Complete OCR World Championship 2017 Results 15K

Complete OCR World Championship 2017 Results Team 7K

 

 

Photo Credits: OCRWC Press Release/Social Media Sites, ORM Instagram
Press Release: Margaret Schlachter, OCRWC

Spartan Race Calgary 2017

Calgary Spartan Race (24)

By Glenn Hole with contributions from Ashley Bender. The Calgary Spartan Race.

Tired. Overdone. Flat. Boring. Fast (pejoratively), too muddy, not long enough, bad festival area, no spectator views, bad parking arrangements. I wouldn’t do it again. How would they run a super on this postage stamp sized area?

These are some of the comments I have seen on social media and from friends within the OCR community in Alberta, Canada.

Calgary Spartan Race (6)

As you can tell, the Calgary Spartan Race has a mixed reputation in Alberta. Unlike its more scenic cousin, Red Deer, the Calgary venue is not much to look at. It’s a worn motocross circuit. At times it is extremely dusty, at others it is prone to getting so muddy that it can be a frustrating experience to even try and complete the course. Historically the festival area has also been pretty grim underfoot, with limited vantage points for spectators.

There seemed to be a clear divide in the quality and style of the races we would find in Canada versus the ones we would experience in the USA. Calgary was part of that divide.

Thankfully Spartan Race Canada has been thinking hard about how to improve the Western Canadian Spartan Race scene. The standard is now higher. The obstacles are tough and varied. The festival area was now fantastically laid out and clear of mud. It was easy to see some of the key obstacles from the sidelines. The parking was fine. The check in was busy but efficient. For those who attended the race for the first time this year, they got as true an introduction to Spartan as you would find anywhere in North America.

One Problem

There is one thing I need to get out of the way before I get to the good stuff about Spartan Canada. My one pet peeve about the Spartan Race format is the high entry fees for spectators. $15 to WATCH a Spartan Race feels a little steep – it’s a little better now you can actually SEE what is going on during the race compared to last year, but I brought 5 adults with me to watch and they were all a little frustrated with the collective entry fee of $75.

Now, I felt that the race was spectacular, and I’m not saying I understand the economics of these races. There are costs to cover overhead to reach. All I know is that spectators are free of charge at many other races and that most other races tend to have more for spectators to do during the event.

I understand the need for paid parking spots and that carpooling can improve things, but OCR isn’t much of a spectator sport. Rugged Maniac, Mud Hero, Muddy Warrior and X Warrior Challenge, for example, have a free spectator policy. Rugged even has a full stage program with entertaining events and competitions running all day. For $15 I expect more. 

Now that is out of the way, let’s talk about the awesome action out on course.

Stats

The Spartan Race weekend began with the sprint distance on Saturday. Clocking in at 6.8 instead of the usual 4km that has been common over the years. The Super on Sunday came in at just under 11 km, which is remarkable given the size of the area. Check out the two maps we have on Strava showing the course and the layout.

Super flyby

Sprint Flyby

What to Expect

Calgary starts with a swooping vertical drop onto a wide dusty track. It’s easy to find your pace without bottlenecking. The course winds around like a game of snake, covering every lump and bump available across the track – with much of the action in good view of the festival area. The trail itself looks like a brain from above!

This is a race course that cultivates speed. There isn’t really a chance for any kind of relief or steady pace. It’s never truly flat, and what the course lacks in sustained vertical distance it makes up with the sheer number of short sharp climbs and controlled falls downhill. Some of the inclines and drop offs were more like scrambles at a 60-degree angle! The bucket carry and 50lb sandbag carry were both found on these incredibly steep sections. Even the tractor pull took place over a series of small whoops, rather than a typical flat course. For a course without any natural hills, it punched well above its weight and height; the sprint clocked 384 m elevation gain and loss while the super delivered 599 m elevation gain and loss.

Highlights

Barbed Wire from Hell

Barbed Wire

This year we were treated to a super long barbed wire crawl near the start of the race. The barbed wire was low to the ground and the crawl was cratered with watery troughs that made rolling extremely difficult. The entire route was split down the middle, turning back on itself halfway through. A lot of us didn’t see that coming. Well played.

The Stunt Park

After a grueling set of climbs and descents along the west side of the arena, we crested a hill and entered my favourite part of this race. The stunt park. It’s where dirt bikers practice balance and jumping from one rock to another.

The area is full of raised logs, drop offs, boulder piles, almost vertical climbs, and balance beams. To run on, it’s dynamic and challenging, requiring fast feet, concentration, flexibility, agility, speed, and the cardiovascular capacity of a racehorse. You get the idea. It’s by far the most effective use of embedded obstacles I’ve ever seen in a race. The section left me feeling like a superhero.

Olympus

I love this obstacle and I was so pleased to see it there again. It wasn’t particularly hard this time (if in doubt, just use the round holes instead of the chains or the climbing grips), but it’s a nice challenge and it feels great to complete it.

Faye Olympus

Tyrolean

The old ankle biter was back with a vengeance on the Super, but not for the Sprint.

Atlas Carry

A heavy Atlas Carry was added for the Super on Sunday. 5 burpees were performed at the halfway mark.

Sled Pull and Drag

The heavy sled pull was back for both races again. Again, I love the fact that competing at Spartan requires a lot of different training modalities.

Sled Drag

The Dirt

A big mud trap and a couple of short swims also were featured later in the race. They were effective at breaking down the pace of faster runners while becoming a source of muddy mayhem for more casual runners. Mud is great as an obstacle, but it can also make a race into an unpleasant experience if the entire race is too muddy. This year we had dry weather leading up to the race, so the mud was not an issue. 

Rolling Mud

Extended Bucket Carry for the Super

The bucket carry was even longer for the Super, creating somewhat of a death-march type situation.

Bucket Carry

Conclusion

The feeling of accomplishment in finishing strong on my particular race was really worth the effort. I know Ashley (who provided additional information for me about the Super) also finished first in her age group. Everyone who ran and attempted either of the Spartan races in Calgary this year should be very proud. It was the most challenging and interesting Spartan Sprint Calgary has seen to date and the Super was a huge success and an appropriate step up in difficulty over the Sprint. Overall I would say the event was a success in terms of reinventing the Spartan race in Calgary. I reached out to Johnny Waite, the new race director of Spartan race Canada,

“I am very proud of what our team is achieving with our reboot of the Canadian market, and it means a lot that the work is appreciated and acknowledged. As I said at the podium presentation, Canadians are among the very best obstacle racers in the world and we are committed to giving them some of the very best races in the world. (And, we are having fun doing it too!!)”

Keep it up guys!

Photo credits. Gamefacemedia. Johnny Waite (instagram) and Spartan Race Canada (Facebook)