From Dusk Until Dawn: World’s Toughest Mudder 2014
Dark. Desolate, Deserted, Consumed in a Sand Storm, Strong winds, No Sounds, No Turning Back, No Quitting. This is what I encountered at 3AM at World’s Toughest Mudder 2014, alone on the course. The sand and wind were difficult to break through, my head and hands were like ice, the thought of stopping never crossed my mind. I kept thinking about everyone that I was running for: Sean Hall, my IR4 Buddy and the struggles that they go through every day. Can’t is not in my vocabulary. I had no friends that ran with me. All that could be heard was the pounding of my feet on the rocky terrain. I knew that I had to persevere and keep going. The energy from the volunteers was electric and quitting was not an option.
For a rookie, I didn’t know what to expect. I received some advice from The World’s Toughest Community Facebook group and a friend that was a previous contender, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come. Heart pounding. hands sweating. the butterflies in my stomach growing. awaiting the start of World’s Toughest Mudder 2014. Did I have the right gear? Do I have the right food? Who was going to help me if I couldn’t get over obstacles? All of these questions were racing in my head.
Getting on one knee and listening to Sean’s speech was inspirational and I was proud to be there. The first lap was a blur, the heat pounding on my shoulders, the swish of my tutu as I was jogging. Being amongst the sea of strong contenders built my confidence and my excitement increased. The second lap was a different story…obstacles. I had a strategy in mind where the goal was to last 24 hours, do 10 laps if possible, and to conserve my energy. With some of the obstacles, the penalty such as carrying the cinderblock or doing an extra swim gave me extra energy to save for later. One of my strengths is being a strong swimmer and I was surprised how much swimming there was. Also, I was surprised that everyone was really nice and I received help anywhere I needed help.
After 5 laps around midnight, I could not get my hands or ears warm. I was not smart and mainly wore cold gear and Under Armour hats. Bad idea! My cold gear pants were riding down and my shirt was riding up. I was pissed off, soaked, and freezing. I decided to rest and this is when the sandstorm began. I stripped down to 2 pairs of fleece sweats, 2 heavy sweatshirts, my hair wrapped in a towel, 6 blankets, a sleeping bag, 2 pairs of socks, and had toe warmers all over my body. I rested around 2 hours then suddenly at around 2AM, I woke up, felt really warm, and was ready to go.
I carefully got out of the tent, grabbed my contacts, and struggled to get them in with the windstorm and the tiny mirror from the trailer. Contacts were in, time to get into my wetsuit. Being a rookie, I know now that as soon as it changes to black ops-Wetsuit. I stood outside the tent eating a piece of KFC chicken and getting ready to go back out. I got to see Amelia Boone and Ryan Atkins along the way, but the course was deserted. The tents started dwindling throughout the night and when the sun came up that morning, maybe 20 tents were left. I ended up resting again for about an hour before the sun came up. The bright light of the sun streamed in my tent and I heard the sound of bagpipes. The plan was to do another lap before the cut off at 10am. I started my last lap around 8AM and I was finished around 10:15AM. I had survived 24 hours of hell.
I was shaking uncontrollably and was exhausted. I did not meet my goal of 10 laps, but 7 was enough. Napping, shower, hot tub, and eating were all that I had on my agenda. In and Out Burger was calling my name.
There are a million things I would do differently and will change for this year. I have increased my training especially due to the harder races I’m doing, a 50 miler and an Ultra Beast. I also obtained some warmer gear including a neoprene scuba vest with a hood and gloves that actually fit. Better camping gear as well will be purchased and hand warmers. Also, more friends of mine will be on the course as support and contenders for this year, which will help keep me motivated. Despite my changes, I am proud of my accomplishment and I am going to come back stronger and better than ever.
Mary will be writing about her journey this year including all the things she learned from WTM 2014 and what she hopes to accomplish in 2015. We are happy and excited to help document her journey.