We’re Not Nameless, We’re Not Faceless, We Were Born for Muddiness

I wish that this blog was about how I reached my goals and everything went perfect and I couldn’t have been happier with how my first World’s Toughest Mudder went.

But that’s not this story; that’s not what happened.

Friday went as well as could be expected. It was raining and the ground was a joke.

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Taylor and I set up my borrowed canopy tent and staked it down with some stakes lent to us by neighbors when we realized there were none in the bag. It seemed to be fine, so we moved on and left.

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As we left, so many people were stuck in the mud and we had a good time helping them out. My SUV even got stuck but thanks to other Mudders we were soon on our way back to my place.

Dinner came and went. Eventually, it was time to sleep.

The next morning I was a bit apprehensive. This was it, this was what I had been waiting a whole year for. What I had been training a whole year for.

And we got to the site and the tent had blown over in the night and got damaged. It was no longer usable.

Thankfully, a call to the other member of my pit crew, April, had us back on track. She would pick up a replacement tent and it would be okay.

Time was counting down.

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I was trying to decompress while also helping to get everything ready. It was not easy; I’m sure I was more of a hindrance than a help.

April got there and the new tent got put up. A few people helped us, Kevin was the real MVP when he helped us get the stakes into the ground.

It was soon time to go to load in. This was it. This was the beginning of World’s Toughest Mudder 2018.

In my mind I kept repeating one word: shit.

WHAT WAS I DOING HERE?! WHY WAS I DOING THIS?!

I looked around and saw so many people that I decided were better athletes than myself. They were more fit. They were definitely faster.

What the hell was I thinking?

I made an effort to hug everyone I recognized around me. And even some people I didn’t.

These were the people I was doing this with because even with my doubts, I was here. I was doing this.

The first hour of the event is the sprint lap. No obstacles are open for that first hour. But the terrain and rolling hills through the woods were no joke.

The first obstacle to open was Mud Mile. And it was slick and red and a good laugh as always.

While in Mud Mile, Noah Galloway caught up with me. This was something I will remember forever because I had met him the year prior at the Tough Mudder event at the same venue.

Yes, I did have his book and he signed it that year.

At the time I also had a moment that made me realize I will never be the kind of ‘fangirl’ that interrupts someone’s dinner. I felt weird calling him by his name.

But at World’s, I had no qualms what so ever.  I called out to him like we were neighbors. Really, I called out to him like we were teammates, and at that moment, we were.

The next open obstacle after Mud Mile was Kiss of Mud. And it’s barely an obstacle. Anyone who’s done any of the Toughest events knows that you just roll across the ground, don’t do it like you’d do for the regular events.

After Kiss of Mud was another trek through the woods. And as we are going through the woods, I’m realizing something: It’s going to be dark soon and the ground is going to be slick, like a slip and slide. And that is going to be dangerous.

The last obstacle before I finished my first lap was Mudderhorn. The mountain of an obstacle was 25 feet high and had a nice little area at the bottom where most of the population needed help getting up.

And then you climb up a cargo net over an A-frame. And back down the other side.

And then it was to the pit I went.

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I had a pretty detailed plan for how the day could go. I had a detailed Excel sheet, with what I would do after each lap, including gear/clothing changes, what I would eat between laps, and what I would take on the course.

That was all thrown out of the window after realizing a few things: it was cold, a lot colder than I expected leading into the event. AND the course was a bit more brutal than I expected. The trails through the woods were different than the ones we were on for the Atlanta event a few weeks prior.

My pit crew met me at the quick pit area with the planned food, but I waved them around the barricade and explained that the plan had changed.

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The wetsuit had to go on.

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The second lap blurred together. I remember seeing my friend Eric at Funky Monkey. He gave me a quick hug and took a picture.

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I remember the horrible hill leading to Ladder to Hell. I stopped and used my inhaler there and I’m pretty sure someone saw me and told the medic up top because he was concerned before I even made it to him. But nevertheless, I trudged on.

More woods and more cold. Then came some water obstacles, because why not. Underwater Tunnels and Cage Crawl were wet. Mike Jones greeted me at the tunnels with a hug and a smile. The volunteer at Cage Crawl was sharing dad jokes, which made me happy.

Trench Warfare had you crawling through a dark space and low-key afraid of snakes and spiders jumping to get you.

In a few hours, the electric route would open here, but it wasn’t yet open.

So it was to some more water obstacles I went. Quagmire was simple. Blockness Monster was cold. The next few were still closed but my nemesis was looking in the distance.

Everest was waiting for me. And I gave it a chance. And then another. I landed weird on my second fall and headed towards the penalty loop, to a small Mud Mile.

In the trench. Out of the trench. In the trench. Out of the trench. Over and over.

We liked that so much, we decided to do it again a few feet later.

After that came the trifecta of horrible: T-boned, Skidmarked, and Lumberjacked.

Bane in my existence and made harder because I always need help. But I made it through with the hands of strangers on my butt.

Next came Pyramid Scheme, which is just going up an incline while using a rope. After that was Kiss of Mud, an excuse to stop, drop, and roll.

Now for another walk through the woods. And Mudderhorn waited still on the top of that hill.

I was cold and but not yet miserable. The sun was still shining and I was looking forward to night ops. The chance to see how good my mental grit was in the face of the dark and cold woods is one of those things that I was looking forward to.

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When I got to the pit I didn’t see my crew waiting for me, so I headed towards my tent.  As I got closer, I could hear them talking and, being myself, I threw the tent flaps open and scared them.

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I tried on the hood a friend had lent me but felt like it was a little tight; it was a good laugh for me and my crew.  I laid down and rolled my legs because they were a bit tight.

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Soon I had my headlamp on and I was on the course once more.

Twin Peaks was open.  It was a nice dip in the water and off to the penalty lap.  Spread Eagle was next, just enough to wear me out.  My hands were getting cold and it was harder than I expected.

After getting wet at Twin Peaks and cold at Spread Eagle, I got wet again at Augustus Gloop.

And then came my new favorite obstacle: Black Widow.  It was made more fun by the fact that the guys behind me were impressed and complimentary of how quickly I made it through.

At this point, I was soaked and cold.  The chill had settled in and making it to Funky Monkey and a friendly face was something I was both dreading and looking forward to.

Eric absolutely wanted NOTHING to do with my soaking wet hug.  He pretty much threatened me with bodily harm.

In the water, I went and off to the penalty lap.  After the penalty lap, I tried for another hug and Erice refused yet again. And by refuse I mean yelled threats if I came near him.

Hill to Hell, lead to a great view of the sunset.  A few other Mudders and I sat on top of the Ladder to Hell and watched it for a few moments.  It was beautiful and a sight I will not forget.

Through the woods and to some more water.  It felt like the next few obstacles were just in and out of the water and I was freezing.  The Gauntlet was open and I didn’t even attempt the rings; no reason to get myself wet if I failed.

I had already had experience with Leap of Faith, I expected and I knew I didn’t have the grip strength to complete it.  Into the water I went. Again.  As I started to crawl out the other side I saw a fellow Mudder struggling to get out.  I heard him ask someone for help, but wasn’t heard.  I told him that I’d help him as soon as I got out myself and I believe that gave me the strength to get out myself.   I moved to help him and then went on to my penalty.

There is a pattern of me and penalties.

This one though, I don’t know how but at one point I fell and pretty much just laid in the mud.  As I struggled to get out, I told myself, “I’m just going to build a house.  I live here now.”

I finally made it out.  I channeled my inner Optimus Prime and rolled out.

More penalties and more water meant more cold. I was shivering and couldn’t stop.

The trifecta of horrible had me thankful for Ryan Cray.  Without his help, I don’t think that I would have made it.

I couldn’t think about anything but HOW COLD I WAS.

Soon I was in the woods again.  And I was alone.  And it was dark.  And I was so cold.

I was so close to crying.

But then I heard one of the most amazing sounds.  It was Jon Copper’s bagpipes.  And at that moment I wasn’t alone.

I had enough energy to make it to Mudderhorn, where I saw the eyes and nose of a familiar face. “Nathan is that you?!” came out of my mouth before I could stop it.

Nathan helped me up and I slipped a little and hit my head pretty hard before I could brace myself.  I was sluggish and colder still.

Up I went and down the other side.  And it was all downhill to the pit.

I made it to the pit and I was freezing.  My pit crew started piling on the layers and I was struggling to warm up.

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Eric and Cole stopped by after their volunteer shift finished.   I couldn’t tell you anything that we talked about.  I was still freezing and it was all that I could think about.

I started to read a few of the letters from my friends and family.  Some made me laugh and some made me want to cry.  And I was in awe of the support of the people in my life.

The next few hours were a blur. At first, I didn’t want to get out of my wetsuit, afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t make it back on course.  After a little while longer, that was no longer an option.  I wasn’t warming up and I had to call it.

The wetsuit had to come off and dry clothes had to go on.  April mentioned to me that there were people talking about how other participants were going to their cars.  I knew that there was no chance I would do that.

Into the sleeping bag I went, I would try to warm up and go back out once I wasn’t shivering.

I wasn’t quite asleep but I wasn’t awake.  I could hear what was going on around me but didn’t really focus on it.  I checked my phone but didn’t have the ability to type a response to my sister’s request for an update.

Suddenly my bag opened up and something warm was tossed in.  And I cuddled it to my body without caring what it was.  It was warm and I wanted it as close as possible.

I could hear the MC commentating on what was going on, but more importantly, I could hear about obstacles being closed.  The dreaded trifecta of horrible was frozen over and closed.

That warmth that had been tossed into my bag was a bottle full of hot water. And it was a trick that April’s boyfriend, a Cub Scout, had told her. And thankfully it was working.

I was starting to warm up and felt like I could start to move around.  I wasn’t sure how much time had passed but I was warming up and I wanted the same for my pit crew.  I told them to go warm up in the cars, that they should do that. Taylor refused but April went to warm up.

To be considered a 24-hour finisher, a participant has to complete a lap after 8 AM.  I knew that it would likely take me between two and three hours to complete a lap.  I had decided to go out at 5 AM.

April soon arrived back in the tent and I was able to convince Taylor to go take some time to warm up.

Soon, it was 4 AM and I knew that I had to start getting ready.  It took about an hour and soon I was ready to get on course.

One of the most common questions I get asked about WTM is: What was the hardest obstacle?

The hardest obstacle was putting on a wet and freezing cold wetsuit and going out for my fourth lap.

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But before I could, I was face-to-face with another MVP and a champion for all Mudders, Molly Kenneth.  She and I spoke for just a few minutes and I told her how I had spent hours in my tent warming up and how I felt.  She had a hug for me and I felt ready.

The last lap was a bit of a blur.  I don’t remember a lot but moments stick out.

  1. At Spread Eagle, I was struggling to make it onto the platform. I had tried a few times and just couldn’t.  But suddenly the straps were tighter and I looked back and there was a guy getting onto the same straps, telling me, “You look like you could use a hand.”
  2. Falling into the water under Funky Monkey, more like just belly flopping, but not feeling a thing. And when I picked up a sandbag for the penalty, it was mostly just a bag.
  3. The Austrailian man that I death-marched with that confirmed that all the things in Austrailia are actually trying to kill you.  Who I met up with on another obstacle but had already forgotten me and was AMAZED when I told him where he was from.
  4. No longer caring about risking getting shocked at EST and eventually just batting the wires away from me. Operation wasn’t the worst until I got cocky and got shocked.
  5. The sun coming up was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.
  6. Walking by the trifecta of horrible and being amazed at the ice the covered Lumberjacked.
  7. Sitting on the steps on the downside of Pyramid Scheme and talking with a man who was pitting for a few people who were still cold and sharing the hack from April’s boyfriend

The last little bit of time on the course was mostly just taking it slowly and talking with other people who were doing the same.  We were all trying to time it perfectly to finish right after 8 AM.

Mudderhorn loomed in the distance and I looked over the venue, covered in frost with the sunshine reflecting off it.  I was still in awe of the beauty and what I had accomplished.

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Even though I knew I wasn’t where I had hoped to be, I accomplished my Plan C: Finish 24 hours.

Up Mudderhorn one last time.  Arms looping through the net, slow and steady.  I knew my hands wouldn’t work and at that point, I was afraid of falling more than anything.

Suddenly I hear a familiar voice telling me that I was good.  It was Anke, an amazing woman who I had only met a few times but already had mad respect for.  She was to get her 100th headband once she crossed the finish line.

Looking around there was about 30 people just waiting for 8 AM, which was only a few moments away, and I realized something.  This was it; in just a few short moments and a little walk, I would be crossing that finish line and I would be a World’s Toughest Mudder Finisher.

We heard the MC announce that it was 8 AM and we all started walking towards the finish line.

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I was overcome with emotion, which I had been off and on that whole last lap.

The finish line had never been more beautiful and I had never felt so overwhelmed.

I am a World’s Toughest Mudder. I finished with 20 miles. And I will be back next year for another try.

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