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Last weekend, over 1200 of the toughest people on the face of the planet descended on the desert sands of Las Vegas. Competitors from every corner of the globe came to Lake Las Vegas to compete in the 5th annual World’s Toughest Mudder competition. WTM is a 24 hour endurance mud run that tests every facet of an athlete. This year, competitors in the male, female, and team categories battled a 5 mile course complete with 21 obstacles (plus up to an additional 1.5 miles of penalties spread across nine obstacles), freezing cold water, and their own mental grit and stamina for 24 hours to complete as many laps of the course as they could.
World’s Toughest Mudder 2015 is considered by many competitors to be the hardest WTM to date. After a one hour sprint period with no obstacles, the runners were thrust into a grueling battle with the course. Each lap had over 800 feet of elevation gain, and as many as 13 encounters with the freezing cold waters of Lake Las Vegas, depending on how many obstacles one failed. This meant that the participants spent the majority of the race soaking wet and freezing cold, with many participants rarely going more than a ½ mile without swimming or wading through the water. In addition to the long swims and the 5 mile course, the runners had to tackle 21 obstacles per lap, keeping their upper bodies just as exhausted as their legs.
At the conclusion of each lap, competitors end up in what is known as the pit area. This is where each competitor is allowed to set up a tent, store supplies and food, and have their pit crew (2 per competitor) available to help with whatever they need. Between laps, competitors can spend as much time as needed in the pit, to refuel, recharge, and prepare for another lap. Once they cross the start line again, their pit crew can no longer assist. The only help beyond that point is the fellow competitors on course. Unlike most endurance races, WTM is not only a race, but it is a community gathering. These are Mudders that embrace the true spirit of teamwork and camaraderie.
With a prize pool of $60,000 and a bonus prize powered by Cellucor of $100,000 up for grabs, nobody would fault the competitors for taking every advantage they could get over one another, but that is not how WTM competitors see it. The sense of community at this event is unlike any other. Many of the contenders out on course are friends, and most all of them are always willing to lend a hand. Whether you need someone to pull you up Everest on your first lap, help you over a Berlin Wall at 2am, or spin you through Roll the Dice (a 2016 trial obstacle) on your last lap, you can always find camaraderie alive and well on a WTM course. However, at the end of the day, this is still a race, and 2015 left us with some thrilling moments throughout the 24 hours.
WTM 2015 was a grueling challenge for all competitors, and the miles were definitely not easy to come by. Of the 1200+ competitors, only 338 were able to reach the 50 mile mark, and only 24 of them were able to push through to the 75 mile mark. Many competitors fell short of their goal, battling with injuries, fatigue, and the frigid temperatures. While some were WTM veterans, many more were first time WTM competitors who came looking to test themselves against what may be the toughest event on the planet. It is not a course to be taken lightly, and many WTM competitors were humbled by the unrelenting nature of the event. Despite the challenging course and conditions, there are always some that rise to the challenge, and compete for the title of World’s Toughest Mudder.
Defending champions Amelia Boone, Ryan Atkins and Wolpack Spartan Team all came back for another dance with the devil that is WTM. The new twist for 2015 came in the team category. This year, if a team of 4 or more people was able to hit 100 miles per team member (excluding penalty mileage), they would have won a $100,000 bonus prize. This incentive was enough to entice defending male champion Ryan Atkins to form a team and take a run at the bonus prize. He pulled together some of the biggest and best competitors from endurance racing to tackle the challenge. Facing off against him were several top teams including Wolfpack Spartan Team, CarboPro, Getting Tough and Runners Lap Denmark. Teams had until 10am Sunday to either continue as a group, or split up. Throughout the night, many of the top teams broke apart to compete as individuals instead. When the dust settled in the morning it was Atkins’ team Sinergysports.com that stood alone at the top. They finished with 80 miles and were crowned as the WTM 2015 team champions. Behind them in second was Getting Tough Team with 70 miles, and Team Runners Lap Denmark in third with 65 miles.
With Atkins switching to the team competition, the door was wide open in the men’s competition. Perennial favorites like Junyong Pak, Trevor Cichosz, Matthew Hanson, and Anthony Tadajewski were all among the lead contenders heading into the event. Of those, Trevor Cichosz had the best shot at the title, finishing with the same mileage as the eventual winner, finishing 95 miles just 17 minutes behind the champion. The man standing atop the podium was a true dark horse. Chad Trammell had never competed in WTM, and had never run more than 30 miles at a time in his life. He was a cross country runner at Pepperdine University, and hails from Anchorage, Alaska where he is a dentist. Chad put up some serious miles early, completing his first 5 laps in under an hour each, giving him an early lead that he never relinquished. He went on to win his first WTM with 95 miles in just over 24 hours. Hopefully he will return in 2016 to take a run at the 100 mile mark reached only by Ryan Atkins in 2013.
The female competition was fierce this year, with several women in the running to take it home. Returning champions Amelia Boone and Deanna Blegg, spent most of the race squaring off against two first timers, Sara Knight and April Hartwig. April took the early lead, and held it for most of the event, while the other women laid chase. However, as the event progressed, it was the relentless push of Amelia Boone that overcame them all. After 60 miles, Amelia was able to post a negative split time that helped propel her back to the top of the race that she has dominated so many times before. In the five years of WTM, Amelia missed one year due to an injury, took home second place in the inaugural WTM, and has stood atop the podium three times, taking home the 2012, 2014, and 2015 female titles. She has proven to be the most consistent competitor in WTM history with her third individual title.
Congratulations to Chad Trammell, Amelia Boone, Team Singerysports.com and all of the other competitors and finishers in WTM 2015. As many competitors mentioned, this truly was the best WTM yet.
Thank you from all of us at TMHQ for another stellar event. Stay tuned for announcements for WTM 2016 by the end of the year.