I had the good fortune of experiencing my first World’s Toughest Mudder as part of a pit crew last week; and after years of hearing all of the hype that surrounds the event, WTM didn’t disappoint. There will be plenty of recaps out there of the final standings, records set, and physical prowess required. This blog post logs the little things that make WTM special while also addressing the one thing I didn’t like.
It’s not like I went into this thing completely blind. I had certain expectations - all of which were exceeded. The obstacles and sandy terrain were legit. The community’s encouragement and camaraderie was tangible like nothing I’ve ever seen. MC Sean Corvelle’s speeches generated laughs, chills, and misty eyes; while Coach’s DJ skills were top notch. Plus, the athletes’ determination and willingness to suffer was nothing short of inspiring. Throw in the occasional adaptive athlete, costumed WTM veteran, and teams of folks dedicated entirely to helping others get over both physical and mental walls, and the weekend yielded the type of positive energy that you can only hope the rest of the world finds contagious.
There were also the hidden gems that WTM regulars are probably accustomed to, but which were pleasant surprises to newbies like myself. For instance, the hospitality and campfire/lounge area was super inviting. There are also some incredible volunteers dedicated entirely to taking care of the “orphans” - referring to solo runners without a tent area or, in some cases, without a crew.
I was also blown away by Kyle McLaughlin, Tough Mudder CEO. Kyle knows the event and community inside out and can communicate the need-to-know whats and whys in a way that is fun and reasonable. Like most Tough Mudder staff, Kyle treats all WTM participants with the same respect he shows the sports’ top athletes and sponsors. Best of all, McLaughlin loves to take the occasional jab at Spartan, Joe de Sena, Will Dean, and other tongue-in-cheek villains in a way that is playful as opposed to mean-spirited.
My ONLY disappointment about the weekend has nothing to do with the actual event, organizers, or participants. It has everything to do with THAT GUY. You know the one. He’s the backseat driver who knows a better way. He’s the armchair quarterback who could have won the game… had he even played. He’s the guy who could’ve/would’ve ran faster, longer, and further… had he actually strapped on a pair of sneakers. Again, you know that guy.
Here’s how it went down. That guy came up to me and asked how my buddy was doing. Next, he proceeded to tell me everything he should be doing differently. He then picked away at a handful of other athletes - many of whom are my friends. Here’s the thing. This guy wasn’t trying to be a jerk. He probably wanted them to do their best and felt that he had the answers to helping them accomplish it. The problem is, especially at an event like WTM where you have to consider the dozens of loops/miles ahead, your recommendation to “redline,” go “full throttle,” and “leave it all out there” is just hot air if you’re not willing to lace’m up yourself.
I’m not hating on the guy. In fact, though I barely know him, I think he’s an alright dude. I’ll just blame his comments on immaturity and some intoxicants that may have been in his system. However, I hope somebody that knows him better eventually introduces him to a famous speech from one of our most mudder-like presidents. Here is the most relevant section:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena
Mudders, men and women who actually stepped into the arena last weekend in Laughlin, NV, hella props from your friends at MudGear! We can't wait to do it again next year. 👊