World’s Toughest Mudder – From Crew to Competitor
It’s Saturday morning and I just got home from training an early morning client. I am standing by the stove making my daughter French toast and sausage. I start thinking back to where I was this time last week. I was about to embark on my toughest adventure to date, World’s Toughest Mudder 2014 at Lake Las Vegas in Nevada.
I was fortunate enough to get an inside view of the race last year. I helped crew for Margaret Schlachter and Team Shark School. After being a pit crew volunteer, I was seriously thinking about doing the race the following year. Once I found out the venue had been changed from Englishtown, NJ to Las Vegas, NV, I was eager to sign up. I am the biggest baby when it comes to cold weather. Here I thought awesome, Las Vegas will be so much warmer than New Jersey. Let’s just say Mother Nature has a weird sense of humor and I will explain that soon enough.
It was 10am and we are all lined up at the start. It was a beautiful November morning. I think the temps were somewhere in the low 70’s and the sun was shinning down on us. We are all decked out in our Summer race gear. I decided to carry extra hydration because of the warm temperatures. The first 3-4 laps of the race were amazing. When I finished my 4th lap, my pit crew advised me that I should put on my full wetsuit. I was a little confused because it was still so mild out, but I didn’t argue and did what I was told. Thank goodness I did, by the time I was halfway through my lap the temperature had dropped quite a bit. I was very thankful for the extra warmth. I continued on with my laps and stopped at my pit area just long enough to take in some calories and change out my water bottle.
Between laps 7 and 8 everything changed. Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench into this race. The winds started picking up and next thing I knew I was racing in a full on dust storm. I had heard that the winds were between 50 and 60mph. One of the obstacles had collapsed because of the high winds and there was even a report of a porta-potty that blew over on the course. The temps had dropped when the sun went down and now factoring in the winds, it was reported that the wind chill was around 30 degrees, so much for my warm climate race. It was very hard to continue on.
This is where our plan came into play. Margaret and I decided before the race, that she was going to run the first lap with me and do an additional lap with her GoPro camera during the day. After that, she was going to hangout in the pit area until about 10pm. At that time Margaret would run the remainder of the laps with me to help keep me going. She had said the race really starts in the overnight hours and boy was she right. She had nice fresh legs and would be able to keep me going. Thankfully with Margaret’s help, she pushed me to complete two more laps during the night. She even sang for me in the dark as we hiked up what seemed to be a mountain but wasn’t much more than a long hill. It is amazing the games that your mind plays on you.
After we completed the 9th lap, I was so cold and shaking uncontrollably. We stopped in the Outpost to try and get warmed up. There were so many racers in the tent trying to do the same thing. They were drinking hot water, had space blankets wrapped around them, doing everything and anything to try and get warm and out of the wind. As I listened to everyone, many were deciding if they were going to throw in the towel at this point. The wind and the temps had gotten the best of many of the racers. I knew I needed to do one more lap. My goal was to at least hit 50 miles but at this point I couldn’t stop shaking and I don’t think I was all there mentally especially after I had told Margaret I thought I heard kittens meowing out on the course. After having a talk between my friend Nicole who was my pit crew and Margaret, we decided that we were going to change out of our wet clothes and get warm until the sun came up and then go back out for our last lap.
It was about 6am and we emerged from our sleeping bags and decided to start the process of getting dressed again. All that we had left were our short wetsuits. We put on our layers and headed back out for our last and final lap. The wind was still going strong with no sign of mercy. We plugged along. If it wasn’t for Margaret I’m not sure I would have gone as far as I did. She literally pushed me up some of the hills with her hand on my ass. I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough for her. I certainly didn’t object since at that point my right hip was tightening up on me and had pain that was shooting down my right leg. We ended up taking a few extra penalties that final lap. We finally came up to the cliff jump obstacle and I was adiment that I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to get my head wet. I was afraid I would be too cold. Yes, I was being a big baby at that point and I think Margaret was about done with me when I said I wanted to take the penalty, but she respected my choice and we continued on. I had heard that the swim penalty was not that bad. We came upon a small swim and then I looked up and saw an additional longer swim that we had to do. At this point I realized I had made the wrong choice. I should have just sucked it up and did the jump. We completed the swim and found ourselves coming into the finish line. I had done it 10 laps, 50 miles. I was so happy to be done and told my husband on the phone that it was an amazing adventure to do once. I told him I had no plans on doing it again. Well, I flew home Tuesday night from the race, by Thursday morning I was signed up for World’s Toughest Mudder 2015 with a goal of 75 miles. I’ve got a year to prepare!