World’s Toughest Mudder Champion Chad Trammell is Training Hard for a Repeat in 2016

By Mark Barroso | November 1, 2016



After winning the 2015 World’s Toughest Mudder race, Chad Trammell was initially skeptical about signing up for the 2016 edition. Not surprisingly, his body was pretty beat up from the grueling 24-hour course at Lake Las Vegas.

“I was thinking I’d take a year off from World’s Toughest Mudder mainly because it was such a difficult recovery process,” says Trammell. “I hurt my knee during the race and couldn’t run for like six weeks afterwards. But, six months after the race, I started to think, ‘Maybe, I’ll give this another go’ and eventually heard about the team prize.”

The prospect of winning $100,000 wasn’t the main motivator for Trammell’s change of heart as he also wants to prove to himself, and any doubters that last year’s win was for real. The dentist from Anchorage, AK will be teaming with 2016 Best Ranger Robert Killian in a bid to defeat all of the competition.

“Our goal is to shoot for the prize money and the win but mainly WTM would reaffirm to other people and myself that I’m capable of doing something like this,” Trammell says. “A lot of people think last year may have been a fluke win, especially without Ryan Atkins in the division.”

Atkins won the team division last year as part of Sinergysports along with his 2016 teammate Jon Albon. Now, there are two-person (instead of four-person) teams and Trammell has experience running Killian. Last year, Trammell and Killian ran a large part of the first five laps together at WTM and they’ve teamed up at other obstacle course events before. Trammel asked Killian to form a team for 2016 and Killian was in.

“On paper, Robert should be one of the strongest guys out there given his consistency in shorter races, his abilities in longer, 72-hour events like Best Ranger, and his background in Ironman Triathlon,” says Trammell. “He’s a really good swimmer which comes in handy for this event. He’s tough as nails and if you could put together a World’s Toughest Mudder machine or build a character for a World’s Toughest Mudder video game, you’d basically be putting together Robert.”


A runner since age eight, Trammell’s favorite high school distance was the 2-mile, as he always favored longer distances. Trammell attended Pepperdine University in California where he ran on the Division I cross country team, which were 8 or 10km races. He ran a marathon while at dental school at the University of Washington in Seattle then entered the world of OCR. 

“Once I started doing OCRs that had me on trails for 3-4 hours, it made me want to try my hand at races without the obstacles,” Trammell says. “OCR changed me from a road runner to a trail and ultra runner.”


Fast forward to 2015 and Trammell was doing mostly running to train for WTM and he cites a lack of ascending/descending work. The result was super sore quadriceps from downhill running. This year, all the running training is still there, but he’s added components of strength training, more up and down climbing/running and swim-run workouts in a wetsuit. As for the running, at five weeks out Trammell runs 120 miles per week, only tapering to 100 miles per week for the last two weeks. 

“My plan is to train hard up until about a week before the event then just taper off for the last week,” Trammell says. “That’s what I did last year and I feel like the way my body recovers and handles tapering, that’s the best fit for me.”

Leading into WTM last year, Trammell hadn’t gone for a swim in a year and hadn’t worn a wetsuit for years. This year, a typical swim-run workout performed wearing a wetsuit is swimming in a cold Alaskan lake for five minutes, getting out, running five minutes then repeating for an hour. Strength training occurs mainly in his garage gym or in a local CrossFit affiliate and he’ll also hit up a rock climbing gym to work on grip strength. Performed 2-3 times per week in a circuit-style with minimal rest, some of Trammell’s favorite workouts include a combination of power cleans, squats, weighted pullups, kettlebell swings, box jumps, jumping lunges, and rounds on the punching bag. Although Trammell has seemed to put together the perfect training puzzle, perhaps his biggest advantage are his surroundings.

“I’ve been running in snow for a couple of weeks and on my morning run, it’s usually below freezing,” says Trammell. “This time of year, we get into quite a bit of darkness since we’re so far North in Alaska so for a month leading into WTM, it’s a lot of headlamp training in the cold. It makes running in the cold and dark at WTM seem not so bad.”


On the nutrition front, Trammell makes sure he is not in a caloric deficit in the weeks leading into the race. He says that the goal isn’t to lose weight, as any possible advantage of having less body weight is outdone by a lack of energy one needs on the course. Both last year and this year, Trammell has practiced eating right before running, because this is a staple of WTM. Trammell’s favorite intra-race snacks are Krispy Kreme doughnuts and peanut and butter jelly sandwiches since they don’t require much chewing and pack plenty of calories. 

“During WTM, you’re pretty much eating every lap and the body can get used to running on a full stomach and processing food as you go,” Trammell adds.

Trammell acknowledges that at the end of the day, the fate of the Mudders is in the hands of TMHQ.

“TMHQ could make a course that several teams could get to 100 miles on and they could make a course that no one gets to 100 miles on,” says Trammell. “It depends on what obstacles, penalties, how much swimming, and how much elevation gain there is. Plus, how much of windstorm there is year like there was a couple of years ago.”

The most challenging obstacle for Trammell? King of Swingers. 

“Even if you do hit the bell, and it’s difficult to hold on and reach that distance, you’re going to fall 15 feet and land awkwardly in the water so it’s a mental and physical challenge.”

Once Trammell, DDS, returned to the dentist’s office in Alaska after WTM 2015, he was on the front page of a local newspaper and his patients started asking him about his experience in Vegas.

“It’s flattering that you get recognized for World’s Toughest Mudder.” 

Trammell hopes to return to the Last Frontier with another story to tell, not to mention, the largest cash prize in OCR.


Age: 32

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 155 pounds

Residence: Anchorage, AK

Instagram: @chadtram

Occupation: Dentist