NAVIGATION

World’s Toughest Mudder – Part 2 – The Race and The Mind

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Friday morning I arrived at the venue and finally had the opportunity to meet longtime virtual friend Vanessa Runs. Finally connecting in person and sharing stories, my team would shortly arrive and we would get registered then go and set up our pit area.

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This year I opted out of a closed tent, one of the downfalls in 2011 was too comfortable a place to stay. Instead I had brought my pop-up tent from Utah along with a wind flap that covered the back and some of the sides, put up a table to organize food, and two camp chairs to change shoes in. That was it. Our team on either side had two tents to use for changing purposes. This year I opted out of having a sleeping bag. I wasn’t there to sleep we were there to race. We set up our stuff and I headed back to Heather’s house. Not only did she host me for the weekend but also crewed and then picked up the pieces after the race. She is an angel! We ate dinner with her family and I headed to bed and actually slept pretty well.

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Morning came quickly and the alarm was off at 5:45am. Heather and I left her house and it was time to head to Englishtown for the race. Arriving just before 8:00am we got her registered as my crew and made our way to the pit area. As we wandered along I saw many familiar faces and was comforted to see the community I had come to know and love over the past couple of years. The team gathered and we did last minute preps. Then made our way to the starting line. It all had a surreal feeling to it. It wasn’t until we were standing there counting down to start, I realized this is World’s Toughest Mudder, I really made it here! This time surrounded by friends and there with an exceptional team, we were here to race. Then we were off…

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The first lap was just a run to spread out the 1000+ participants, which worked pretty well. We settled into a pace that was a bit fast for me but I was keeping up. Juliana had charted out all the time marks we would have to hit in order to reach the 75 mile mark (our original mileage goal). Luckily the weather was great reaching the high 50’s during the day and only dipped into the mid 40’s at night. We ran along trying to minimize out pit time and keep moving forward. We spent the first 20ish miles ahead of our schedule. Being the shortest on the team I was constantly struggling to keep the pace with my teammates and quickly found myself the weakest link in the chain. This is when my mind started to really play with me.

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WTM 2013 quickly unlocked my greatest insecurity in life. It found my crack in the armor and exploited it. My entire life I have had a deep seated fear of not being able to keep up. As the miles accumulated I found my teammate march was my jog and I was always playing catch-up. As the pattern continued to repeat itself my emotions took control and found myself upset and emotionally early on in the race. I apologized to my team several times and they told me to stop apologizing and we were in this as a team. They would move ahead in order to keep warm and I would shuffle trying to keep up. Each time playing deeper into my insecurity, this push and pull back and forth led to more strain on my body than I anticipated early on. As I struggled to keep up, my hips started to tighten up.

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As we switched into our nighttime gear and I donned a full wetsuit over my shortie quickly I had made a mistake in my gear. The two wetsuits constricted me and I was having some trouble getting a solid breath. My hips were extremely tight and I was still battling the war in my mind. I struggled through that lap, pushing myself forward with the support of my team. Our pace had slowed now and I was pretty sure that 75 mile mark had slipped away. Finishing up that lap I pulled off both wetsuits and put on my heaviest 7mm suit and cut both the wrists and neck back to allow more room to breath and move around. Already my spirits lifted, our team powwowed and we set a new goal 50-55 miles for the race or 10 or 11 laps.

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As we continued through the night I constantly would say to myself we are 7 laps in 3 more to go adjusting as we went along. At some point in the night I settled on the fact I was going to be in the rear the entire time, my teammates were amazing and supportive and I could not have raced this race without them. We all tried to encourage each other the entire race. Matt told us about 20 times he loved us all. Alex kept moving along and Juliana was our anchor. My mind cleared but my body continued to struggle. Pain varied from 6-8 the entire race, migrating from my hips to my knees to my back and all over again. My shins were sore, basically everything from my waist down was struggling while everything from my waist up had cleared and was ready to go.

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We push forward as a team, by the end everyone was dealing with one struggle or another. We pushed hard, and took a couple penalty options when safety came into question for our team. Our main goal was to start as a team and finish as a team, staying out there for the full 24-hours and not taking extreme breaks. It was before our last lap we thought we had to cross the finish line at 10am so we took a 45 minute break in the pit area to try to time the last lap perfectly, then a race official told us we didn’t have to do that and could finish when we wanted. We departed for our last lap prior to the sunrising on Sunday morning. It was our 10th lap and would be our final lap. We paced a slow lap, using as much time as we could and sharing in the experience, with our amazing support crew walking as much of the course along side of us. They had been out there all night cheering us on and being as much part of our success as anyone else.

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We savored the lap and the time together. Matt once again told us all he loved us while in the Devils Beard. We smiled through the pain, we cheered other racers on around us, and were surrounded by friends. As we approached the finish line it became real, we were finishing World’s Toughest Mudder a race that for me had started in 2011 and was finally about to be completed. We pulled together a shuffle jog to get across the line, the first team in WTM history to have two men and two women. The time was just about 9am or 23 hours since we first started racing. We crossed grasping each others hands accomplishing our goal, start as a team end as a team.

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The Race told in Pictures

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Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of DirtinYourSkirt.com. She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of MudRunGuide.com. She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
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