Thank you Dolemite for writing PART ONE. I will take it from here. Please note, I’ll try and keep this short. I tend to be very long-winded. I’m trying to work on that.
Right out of the gate all 1200 or so of us WTMers ran at a nice pace until the first few obstacles that were a mile and a half in. We hit the first new obstacle, “Rock Out With Your Block Out”. Pretty much “Hold Your Wood” except with a cinderblock.
I should mention that our team, The Lords of Coventry, started off running with a kid from Australia named Kieran. He’s a 20 year old guy who contacted me through Facebook. He got to the states a week before WTM and came to my hometown to get some last minute training in. He’s a great kid and his mom is probably one of the sweetest persons I’ve ever met. Sadly Kieran only made it two and a half laps at WTM before he succumbed to IT band issues.
The first two laps were a bitch. The temps were in the low 50s and running in a wetsuit caused us to overheat. Cramps were brutal and no amount of salt tabs helped. You just had to power through. Somewhere around here I saw a spectator wearing a MustacheMan “Doin'” Tshirt. I ran up and shook his hand. His name was Rob. If you are reading this, thanks buddy. As soon as the sun set the cramps were gone for good and we all hit our stride.
Temps dropped considerably and the crowds thinned out. Between laps 2 & 3 Ben switched wetsuits and I reapplied a silicon based gel on my feet and changed socks. Between laps 3 & 4 I changed wetsuits. Two time stealing decisions that plague me to this day. Long after midnight hypothermia got a grip on most of the team. Warm broth was not only consumed but poured on feet to stave off early stages of frostbite.
Don was getting worn down and the cold started getting to him (see below). Like a great big brother should, Jason hung back with Don and helped him over the hump. After about a lap Don bounced back stronger than ever.
Maybe around 3am Ben and Jon needed to take a dump. Wetsuits needed to be removed. The rest of the team waited in one of the warming tents and I decided to try and catch some sleep on a frost covered patch of grass. As soon as I laid down I heard the snores come instantly. I was probably there for a good 10 minutes when a medic on a quad bike came flying past and nearly ran me over. He stopped and I knew they thought I was another casualty. I got up and smiled and told them not to worry, I’m all good. It was true, I felt completely refreshed. Back in the warming tent the guys were struggling with Jon’s zipper. Something was wrong and they couldn’t get it back up. Eventually it was fixed, but this whole pit stop cost us over a half hour. Another mistake.
Somewhere along the way Jon fell and dislocated his elbow. He popped it back in without most of us even knowing. That’s hardcore. I probably would have whined like a bitch. Needless to say his arm was useless for the rest of the event. Back at the pit Jason made a sling out of duct tape so Jon’s arm was now immobilized.
Obstacles started to ice over. Things started to get really sketchy and downright dangerous. The Cargo Net climb out of the water was the toughest. The ropes were icy and exhaustion was setting in. After the fourth time up and over I needed to take breaks during the climb just to make it over.
Balls to the Wall (pictured below) was covered in ice and even with my monkey climbing powers I had a rough time. The plan was for me to get to the top and help the rest of the team over. Jon climbed the icy rope with one arm and I helped him over. Next was Ramon. He got to the top and planted his foot down on a patch of ice. His leg shot out from under him and his body twisted and contorted in the most sickening way. He landed with a thud on his back and laid there for what seemed like an eternity with his headlamp shining right up at me. Luckily he’s a badass and he got up and continued like nothing happened.
The sun came up but the ice remained. Pure exhaustion made obstacles like Everest next to impossible. We all took the penalties which was a dip in the Arctic Enema. For the most part Arctic Enema with a wetsuit is not a problem. But, after 20 hours or so that shit gets tiresome real quick.
I think for at least 80% of the race we had no idea where we were in the standings. We kept forgetting to check the leader board after each lap. For me personally, it wasn’t the most important thing on my mind. Sticking to the game plan and just powering through was my main concern. As long as we stuck to the plan I knew we’d be fine. I can honestly say the thought of stopping or quitting never EVER crossed my mind. I’m sure that is true about the rest of the Lords as well.
Scattered throughout the course were a number of timing mats that recorded your splits by the timing chips strapped to our ankles. Sometimes there would be a sizable gap between us but when we reached the timing mats we made sure we crossed as a tight group. After a few laps someone came up with the idea of doing the “Sloppy Swish” across the mats. The Sloppy Swish is some corny dance from a Saturday Night Live sketch. You can google it if you’re not familiar. No matter how tired or beat up we got, from that point on until the end, we did the Sloppy Swish across every timing mat. I have to admit, it looked pretty pitiful at times.
At one point someone (I can’t remember who) said we were in 5th place. Around 8am most of our families showed up to cheer us on. They snapped the picture below when Jason got snagged on barbed wire and got his legendary orange shell impossibly tangled up. After fiddling with it for too long he told us to just rip it apart, which we regretfully did.
After we emerged from the Log Bog Jog in the woods (which was literally a neck deep wade through liquid shit) our families confirmed that we were in second place. Shortly after that, we talked to a TMHQ worker on a quad bike that said the leaders were only around 15 minutes in front of us. He also said they were in real bad shape. According to the rules, if we could make it across the finish line before 10am we could force a seventh lap and battle it out with the first place team. It was now 9:20am and we had 40 minutes to complete 10 obstacles and run around 3 miles. A couple of the guys, including Jason, seemed up for the task but a few of us, including me, was running on fumes. Moving as fast as we could as a group, the realization dawned on us that we weren’t going to make the 10am cutoff. We all congratulated each other for a valiant effort and finished off our sixth and final lap.
We crossed the finish line proud and strong.
The team that won was called the Nine Inch Males (get it? hilarious.). They were not only 15 minutes ahead of us but in fact, more than an hour. They beat us. Congratulations. But that’s all I got. I fucking hated losing to them. Finding out that they were in such shitty shape really killed me. Check out the pics below.
We crossed the finish line at 10:40am. I think back on the so many different areas where we could have saved those forty minutes and it makes me nuts. A seventh lap for us would have been a grind but I am certain that we would of had an easier time doing it than they would have.
When we were leaving the site and driving through the parking lot I saw one of the members of the winning team walking with a woman and they were holding the big fake check. I rolled down the window and yelled “Congratulations!”. The girl looked over and said, “That’s right, the winner’s right here!”. Now I’m not sure if she recognized me and was being smug or she was just extremely proud of her man. Whatever her motives I could give a shit. That reaction lit a fire in me that can only be extinguished one way and it will have to wait a year.
The following day we got together at Jason’s house for a few drinks and some official “Lords of Coventry” cigars. Ben was flying back to England on Monday night and had to drive to work in Manchester right from the airport. The most ardent of our group, Ben gifted the rest of the team with custom Rugby jerseys, signature cigars, and personalized dogtags which featured our team nicknames, a quote by Winston Churchill – “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE IN” and our team motto – “FORTITUDINE VINCIMUS” (By endurance we conquer).
Before I go any further I have to mention the amazing performance by Junyoung Pak and Amelia Boone. Their 9 laps is nothing short of superhuman. I know it’s been said in hundreds of other places but they are both incredible athletes and they inspire me with their accomplishments.
Although Pak and Boone made history that weekend there were a bunch of other insane athletes out there that performed incredibly. Including us two top teams, there were thirty-one other individuals that did 6 or more laps in under 25 hours. Nine individuals made it 7 laps and three individuals made it 8 laps. Incredible. If Tough Mudder was using the same criteria to judge “finishers” as they did last year there would only be twelve. They would be Junyoung, Amelia, the Nine Inch Males, and the Lords of Coventry. Also, if you are keeping score, I was the only individual in my age group (45-49) to make it six laps. So there’s that.
Injuries and soreness for almost every one of the Lords lasted only a few days. Jon was the worst with his elbow separation. A trip to the doctor proved that he had a fracture of some kind as well. Ramon suffered a small patch of frostbite on his big toe and some nasty lacerations on his achilles. I lost my right big toenail which is fairly common when running Ultra distances and I had some nasty chafing. My throat was burnt for a few days from vigorously inhaling and exhaling that cool Jersey air for 24+ hours. It made my Sunday night victory meal of Chinese take-out inedible. I had a protein shake instead. My fingertips still don’t have all the feeling back in them. All things considered, no big deal really.
With all that being said, you can expect next year to be a fucking war.