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On most days, Vegas’ boldest gamblers are found in exclusive high roller rooms or at no-limit tables behind heavily-guarded, back-alley doors. On November 16, 2014, however, Sin City’s most fearless risk-takers will assemble at Lake Las Vegas for one of the world’s most insane endurance races—World’s Toughest Mudder.
For the first time ever, World’s Toughest Mudder, the military obstacle course endurance race to determine which man, woman and team can cover the most miles of course in 24 hours, will be held in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert.
Previously held at the brink of winter in New Jersey for three consecutive years, the terrain, temperature and tribulations at WTM 2014 will be something no Mudder has experienced before. One consistency at this year’s WTM, however, will be some familiar faces in the start chute.
Returning to WTM for the fourth consecutive year will be the men of 3am Waterfalls, the WTM defending team champions who racked up an astonishing 80 miles of course in 2013.
With their training in full swing, we caught up with 3am Waterfalls recently to talk training, preparation and what on earth they’re doing in waterfalls at three in the morning.
First off, who is on the official 3am Waterfalls roster?
- Jeremy Bucalo, 34, Shrewsbury, PA
- John Fagan, 34, Sykesville, MD
- Tony Fontana, 34, Laurel, MD
- Kevin Lasko, 33, Pittsfield, VT
How did all you guys meet each other?
Three of us went to the same college, and we met Kevin after running WTM 2012.
We heard that your team name stems from a signature training regimen of yours. Care to explain?
During one of our early morning runs, Jeremy introduced us to a 20-foot waterfall at a local Maryland state park. We decided to jump in and get ourselves wet. We couldn't resist. It ended up being great for cold weather training. From that day on, we started a 3am workout routine.
Do you guys have any good luck charms?
Our family, first and foremost.
WTM 2014 is in Sin City. What else do you plan to do in Vegas besides WTM? Is any celebration planned if you win?
What we plan to do in Vegas stays in Vegas. Seriously though, we won’t plan anything crazy until afterward, assuming we can still function. No knock on Vegas, but if we win, we are thinking Disney World. Our kids, seven future Tough Mudders in total, may get a vote or two.
What do your significant others think of you competing in this absurd race?
Initially, they thought we were crazy, but now they fully embrace our craziness and follow us from race to race. They also appreciate that our morning runs, typically from 3-6 am, have little impact on our family time. They especially enjoy the fact that our kids love watching us train and run races. They all really love climbing walls, doing pull-ups and hiking in the woods.
We train to be uncomfortable, and trust us, we get plenty uncomfortable.
To what do you attribute your 2013 WTM victory?
All four of us had a decent WTM track record in the past, and we executed our strategy perfectly. We stayed on our feet for 24+ hours and remained relatively injury free. Ironically, we took the lead around 3am, smack in the middle of the Black Ops [night] segment of the race.
Did you pull some all-nighters training for WTM last year?
No all-nighters, but we frequently went on 3am morning runs with little sleep. We train to be uncomfortable, and trust us, we get plenty uncomfortable.
What is one thing that you regretted not bringing to WTM 2013 that you definitely won’t be forgetting at WTM 2014?
Icy Hot? More ice cubes? Bionic legs? Sorry, those are classified trade secrets.
To ensure a team win, all team members have to complete the course and finish together. How did you motivate teammates who fell behind at different points of the race?
Everyone had a low point or two, but we talked each other through it. Quitting was never an option, and we knew going into the race that we were going to suffer. It never took long for each of us to get a second wind.
What do you expect to face at WTM 2014 that wasn’t a factor at WTM 2013 in New Jersey?
More sand. Lots and lots of sand in fun and unmentionable places.
Out of all 24 hours of last year’s race, which was the most grueling?
9am to 10am on Saturday immediately before the [10am] start of the race. Second, is probably the first hour on the ride home.
So what did you end up doing with the prize money from your 2013 win?
John went on a Disney cruise. Jeremy entered a 100-mile ultra-marathon, which he will run later this summer. Kevin moved to Vermont and opened up a catering business. Tony bought a new car.
Are there any other teams you expect to give you a run for your money?
We hear that Australia has a national team to look out for, and of course, Lords of Coventry is always a threat.
Lastly, will there be a repeat?
That's the plan, but may the toughest team win.