Rucking World Championships 2022

We asked Rucking World Champion, Mark Jones, to describe what it was like successfully defending his title. 

After winning the inaugural Washington D.C. Rucking World Championships in 2021, after a two-year COVID hiatus, my GORUCK “Trifecta” was now completed. This personal trifecta consisted of:

  • Winning the inaugural GORUCK Team Assessment
  • Finishing GORUCK Selection
  • Winning the inaugural GORUCK Rucking World Championship

    When the last challenge was completed, Rucking World Championship (RWC), my 2-year journey had ended and I was unsure of what to pursue next……. THAT WAS UNTIL GORUCK put out a NEW rule to an old challenge.

    The RWC put out that support crews were NOT allowed on course period!! My mind went immediately to “being attacked” by GORUCK, along with the unspoken, “He wouldn’t have won/done so well without a crew. So let’s shake things up a bit.” Of course, none of this was said, but for me I needed to challenge myself one more time before calling it quits. This ultimately meant winning back-to-back Rucking World Championships.

    Fast forward to RWC 2022, with a good base line of fitness, being a new father of 5 months, and having low running milage >40miles/week and >10miles of that being rucking, I questioned if this was a reasonable goal. After a few seconds, I registered about two months prior to the event and got my mind right.

    Finally, start t-minus 2 days, my car breaks down, in Kentucky, at a gas station. It’s a funny story because my insurance company gave me a repair shop number to call while stating a tow truck was coming to get me (later to find out they were 100ft away from me). Due to their close proximity to the repair shop, I called and ended up having the repair man check it out and get it back on the road within 45 minutes. HUGE WIN!!!

    Knowing that the universe had just provided this win for me, my optimism and positive approach to the event resurfaced. This feeling had not been around for a few years now.

    Side note, “the secret to life is to laugh and smile at the things most people would just break down and cry from.” Learn to love challenges, hard work, and a lifestyle of struggle and I promise you will never be upset.


    Rucking World Championship did not go out of their way to market this event at all. Because of this, you really did not know who your competition was prior to the start. Trust me. I asked HQ and other GRT’s, and the response was nothing but crickets. Plus, everyone starts in darkness and pursues points on a route that might be different than your own. This complicates the ability to gauge your opponent and dial in a competitive pace. It really is a love/hate relationship with the event.

    Bonus note: I was peeing on a tree when Cadre Mocha was handing out the first checkpoints location. This set me back 3 minutes from the start of a long race.

    First mistake made, besides starting late, was not putting my route on “walk.” This was not a huge issue, right off the bat, but pushed me in a different direction. I questioned why I was going the opposite way as the entire field, which brought my inquiry into fruition. This allowed me to catch the mistake right away.

    Next mistake: Bombing down the hills!! Starting late, plotting wrong, enjoying the down hills got me going way too fast way too early. The adrenaline was PUMPING!! After a few miles, this all settled in, and I dialed back to where I felt comfortable. The first few points always seem to be where others make the mistake of going out too fast…including myself. I knew that this was NOT where I would be winning the race and needed to get back on track.

    Start to Point 1

    The first point was about 10 miles away. This point was a good test for my nutrition plan, along with resupply time and route planning. Point 1 was a baseball field, nothing special. However, the aid station volunteers were blown away with my time getting there stating, “You are the first to arrive.”

    Point 1 to Point 2

    Back to the start point and beyond, about 13 miles. Point 2 covered some outskirts of the city and into some bike paths into the woods. The coolest parts were this memorial bridge we crossed over and tunnels we went under to get into the skate park where the checkpoint was. During this route, I passed fellow competitors and began to gauge my distance and time between each placement.

    Again, nothing special with the actual point. Cadre Mocha did say in passing, “I wish I would have bet a paycheck on you.” The aid station guys announced, “You are the first here.” I filled up my bottles and took off happily down the road, but still knew I had a 50k to run before I was truly safe.

    Point 2 to Point 3

    Similar to the last journey, I was able to see my competition again. From what I noticed, 2nd place had fallen back to 3rd , and the team division actually was in contention for 2nd. This time they seemed to be about 2 miles back, which was about 20-30 minutes behind. NOT enough time to be comfortable with about a marathon+ to go and 10 miles to the next point.

    The journey to this point was a noticeable topic of conversation. It would later (after the event) be referred to as the “pit of death.” Navigation took me to a “dead end.” Now, this was a commit or quit moment (play it safe) that I chose not to quit. Well, shortly after passing the sign, I went down this rocky slope that dropped off even further, but you had the opportunity to take this “downed tree bridge.” Literally laughing out loud, I though ‘f--k my life’ and ventured across the tree bridge, jumped off, and fell back down the slope, instantly cramping. 

    After getting through that shit-show, muddy, and full of spider webs, I got back on the trail and pushed forward wondering what the hell I just went through and if I was the ONLY idiot to do that. Later, I found out 2nd place, Todd, had done the same, but warned others of the treachery. I also found out that there was a quick non-treacherous path right next to where I went down. Son-of-a-gun!!!

    Shortly after, there were a group of racers coming at me and all I could think about was “did I make a navigational mistake” with the dead end and oncoming traffic. This forced a recheck in my plotting and confidence with my route. A few more miles and I was at my point. Fatigue, a bloated stomach, and a few priorities of work forced the ruck off to take an extended break.

    This point was memorable in so many ways and took about 10 minutes before I left. This got my heart racing because the work needed to be done, gas needed to come out, and a good quick yoga session was crucial. After completing the normal tasks, I went into my bag to turn on my power source for charging my phone. I immediately shouted “WHAT THE F—K?!!!” My charger was on, but my phone was not charging. Brand new cable, trained with this several times, and spot checked it even before we started. Again…WTF!!! Fortunate enough for me, the aid station had a cable on loan for me until the end of the race. Damn, again, super lucky!!

    Point 3 to Point 4

    My opponents and I all know that the number of miles left after arriving at this point (in the middle of the night) will be in the single digits. So, this is where the real competition unfolds. As an athlete, IF you have that grit in you, the move is made here to kick it into high gear utilizing the momentum and energy protruding from the sun. This journey seemed to have the greatest number of hills and, at this time, walking was dominating the run.

    Once again, after arriving at the point, “you are still in the lead,” and “bring home the win.” This obviously meant that I would now be heading back to the start for the final point and finish. With about 8 more miles to go, complacency would NOT settle in. Looking forward and performing at my best was the ONLY option.

    Point 4 to Finish

    The night to day transition is a phenomenal experience to not only witness, but to be fully engulfed with after hours of moving non-stop. In addition, extreme mental and physical fatigue along with sleep deprivation make this part of the race one of the most spiritual journeys someone could ever endure.

    At about two miles back, I came up to a very sketchy bridge and messaged Cadre Mocha that I was two miles out. Mainly, being the first to cross this bridge and “clear the cobwebs” so to speak. There were two main turns left, which seemed to be all uphill. After turning right on 7th street, I knew there was one big downhill and an equally steep uphill to the finish. I must have looked back 100 times to see if anyone was coming. What was funny is that I had turned on AC/DC Radio on my iTunes, at the bridge. No lie, the final song while crossing the finish line1 was Queen- “We are the Champions.” 


    I gave Cadre Mocha and Cadre Aaron big hugs and kisses. Then, they presented me with an amazing bottle of bourbon and a one-of-a-kind patch. These gestures and words exchanged mean more to me than titles, status, money, or most anything else. These Cadre are good people!

    Of course, when you finish an event like this and are beaten up, the last thing you want to think about is the next event. However, I am writing this a week after winning Champs and 3 days away from a ruck marathon. This is in my long pursuit of at least doing a marathon with a ruck in every state. So far, I believe this will be my 10th state.

    After this race, I’ve got a 24hr ruck race in November. I have no idea what will happen, but each of these events holds a purpose and intent. To evolve into a better rucker and have the ability to push new limits and boundaries. Call it my midlife crises after recently hitting 40.

    Most importantly, RUCK:FEST (@ruck.fest) • Instagram photos and videos will be going live any time, and I hope to have another solid turnout. Lots of BIG new coming soon and cannot wait to share. Of course, thank you MudGear for all your support! Let’s continue to dominate!

    MudGear Shirt and Ruck Socks worn the entire time in 42-50F with wind gusts. Gear was perfect the entire time!

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