Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Worlds Toughest Mudder Race Recap

On the car ride down from Toronto, to New Jersey, we were asked by the border patrol, where we were going, and what we doing. My Girlfriend was driving at the moment, and she said "We're going to New Jersey. One of us, Ryan, is doing an event called the Worlds Toughest Mudder!" He replied saying that he already had several people cross tonight who were doing that event. She replied by saying "Yeah, but you haven't had the winner come through yet, have you?". I have the best, most supportive girlfriend ever!

Taking a post race pic with all the Tough Mudder employees. They were all so nice.

Self belief, confidence, and cockiness shouldn't be confused. I had 100% focus coming into this event, 100% belief in myself, and although there was a ton of uncertainty, I had come for a purpose.

We drove the 8 hours down on Friday, and ate at the Olive Garden. I had raviolis, and pumpkin cheesecake. Even though I had rested for 1 full day, and had a very low-key week leading up to the event, I was super hungry, and just mowed down. We got 2 for 1 meals, and I decided I would take my extra meal for the race. After we got to the Hotel, me and my friends all fell asleep.

Just after the first lap. I look like
i'm in a Powerade poster!
We arrived at the venue at 7:00 am. Perfect timing. I got signed in, got my tent set up, and then got all set-up, and ready to rock. From then, until the start, we just hung out, and chatted. My support person, Kelsey Krushel was totally ready. He knew all the gear I brought, were it was, and what to do with it. Kelsey, my girlfriend Lindsay, and my other roommate, Matt, all have the ability to rock a top 10 finish at this event, so having such a great athletes there to run ideas by, was invaluable. I arrived at the start line in an ideal mental state, and then just chatted with some other Mudders. The start went off, and boom. I went.

The first lap was foolish. I ran it pretty fast. I pulled through the pit after doing the first 5 miles in 30:20. This was a little bit reckless, but I was only running at about 70%, and really trying to dial the excitement down. After this, I pitted for about 30 seconds, grabbed a drink, and headed out for lap 2. I think this one was 42 minutes. I really tried to "feel" the pace, on the pavement, and dial it in, to a speed that I would be able to maintain for the next 23 hours, and 29 minutes.

After this I just kept going. I got to run with Knut. He seemed really nice, once I finally got him to talk to me (which took a few laps). The one thing that I wasn't impressed with, was his lack of "Mudder" mentality. To me, it seemed like was just "in it to win it". I kept catching him on all the running sections, then he would push by other Mudders, when going through obstacles, never helping out, and butting in line, in front of others. I knew it was a long race, and I couldn't keep this yo-yo-ing all day long, so I let the gap go on lap 7. I believe it was on lap 9 that I learned that he had hurt himself. As bad as it seemed, I felt like there was some Mudder karma being dished out, but I felt terrible for his misfortune. I think I was down about 5-10 minutes when he pulled out, and from then on, I would sit in first place.
Being the funkiest of all monkeys

I think it was also on lap 7, that I was interviewed by Matt Davis, from Obstacle Racing Media. He asked me if I knew that I was in second. I said yes. He hinted that I was going too fast. I said that I was running "my pace" and that I felt "really good". It honestly felt like I was running on a cloud. Each step was pure pleasure, and I was in that place where everything flows. He asked if I knew the caliber of the athletes that were behind me. I did. I had one person on my mind the whole time... Junyong Pak. I had prepared myself for the logistics, and physical requirements, by watching videos, and reading all about Junyong, so I had put up on a pretty high pedestal. He is an obstacle racing demi-god. He is an amazing athlete, and I knew this. But somehow, I still believed in myself. It seemed like the only other 3 people who also believed in me, in all of New Jersey, were my three friends. That was all that I needed. It made me feel like I wasn't crazy, for thinking I could possibly out pace this Tough Mudder machine.

From then on, my laps slowly got slower. I took breaks of approximately 2-4 minutes each lap, and then I would follow this, by walking the next 1/4 mile. After that, I would always run. Run to the obstacles. Run between them. Run after. Run through the woods. Just keep running. I kept thinking of "Finding Nemo"... where the blue fish sings "just keep swimming". Starting on lap 4 almost every lap was about 1 minute slower than the previous, and this trend held almost perfectly true, until my last lap of 1:15. I kept getting splits, and I kept running. My friends ran around the spectator route, and gave me cheers all night long. Once the sun came up, I knew I had it. My lap had grown to 2 laps, and I still felt good enough to keep running. I finally got to meet Mr. Pak. I told him that I had so much respect for him, and his performances. I also felt like he was a ninja, because I only saw him on my 18th lap. It was about time! He must have been in stealth mode all race long.

I don't like getting shocked... Shocking!
For some reason, I thought that when the Tough Mudder site said that you had to stay on course all 24 hours to be a finisher, that Mudders had to finish after 10:00 am. So, my second last lap involved a lot of walking, trying to kill time. Halfway through my last lap, the race official came up to me, and asked me if I had any questions. I told him that I was confused about when I could finish. He said that I can finish whenever I want! So, I started running, again, and ran the rest of the last lap. I ran in with 100 miles, and 20 laps complete (maybe slightly over, if you count penalty obstacles) in 23:02. Average pace of 13:49/mi, or 8:35/km. I had a few moments of worry, that I would have to run another lap, but after some quick math, I realized that to force a 21st lap, Pak would have to run two laps in 45 minutes. So, with that knowledge, I went to my tent, and got out of my wet-suit.

Overall, Worlds Toughest Mudder was a great experience. I would like to thank my Girlfriend, Lindsay Webster, and my two roommates/best friends Kelsey Krushel, and Matt Farquharson. Everyone was super nice, and the whole event was run so smoothly, and well, that I was really blown away. Tough Mudder Staff was AWESOME! Also, all the volunteers were incredible. Junyong Pak, and Olaf Dallner were really well spoken, great guys, and it was a privilege to race with them, and meet them. If anyone wants to learn about my training, leave a comment.

take care, and HOO-RAH!


  1. Congrats! Very nice! What this the hardest event you have ever done?

  2. Hey Ryan. Pak and Olof are two of my very good friends so, as a fellow Canadian, if they had to finish behind someone I am glad it was you! Congratulations on a monumental achievement!!

  3. Congratulations Ryan Atkins! You are the poster child for Physical Literacy! Drop by and gloat some time.

    1. Thank you Sir! I will stop by sometime and say hi. You are the best coach ever.

  4. Remarkable recap Ryan and congratulations on your accomplishment! Pak was quoted after the 2012 WTM that he ran 13.1 miles a day to train. Did your focus on the running endurance, upper body strength or all of the above?

  5. Congrats on a great accomplishment !!

  6. Great race, Ryan. What did you do for nourishment during the race? And what steps did you take to adjust to the change in temperature at night?

  7. Thank you so much Ryan for sharing your experience at such an amazing event! I was thousands of miles (or km!) away but was thrilled to watch and read the online feeds of the whole event, especially of you, and how well you ran and continued to do so through the night. You make Canada proud and I look forward to hearing about future exploits you may engage in!

  8. Hi Ryan:

    I spoke to you after the race. (Fellow Canadian Dylan Dewdney #1242). I'd love to talk to you more about your training whenever you have the chance. I am also pretty close (Cornell Village), so I'd love to go out on any future adventures that you and your friends have planned.
    Email is ddewdney@hotmail.com.
    Congrats on an excellent result.

  9. Congrats! I finished my 1st Tough Mudder this September in Kansas and don't know if I could imagine doing what you did anytime soon.

    Dreadmill Drummer

  10. Mate - Congratulations on an amazing run and win.. from halfway across the world in a different timezone watching all you guys race and reading the camaraderie that you podium finishers showed makes this sport all the more worth following. You guys are great role models to aspire to..

    If anything would be great if you could open up your facebook account to follow and start noting your trainings/conquests and photos..


  11. What an accomplishment Ryan! You are incredibly humble too which is extremely admirable and a great role model for other Canadian athletes. Really thrilled that you continue to support our community event too! (Chase the Coyote) Cheers, Jodi & Norm

  12. Hi Ryan, congratulations on a great competition, that was an incredible achievement. I also competed in the WTM race, I had two gear questions for you: 1. what type of wetsuits were you wearing (brand and also thickness) and were you using one piece wetsuit or a separate top and bottom? I used two different suits both full length but one was too thick and I've considered experimenting with two piece suits. Also, #2, on your feet, what did you use for socks? did you use or have you used scuba socks? I was wearing a few different types of socks (not scuba) and over time my feet continued to get cold and I had to warm them up under water for a few minutes multiple times. Curious as to how you handled this if it was an issue for you. I've thought of experimenting with scuba socks but never worn them in the past. My email is pattersb2000@gmail.com if you can send an email. Thanks again and I hope to see you at future races! Congrats again - brian

  13. Hey Ryan - congrats. The WTM needs a fitting gear sponsor. Drop us a line. Team@MudGear.com

  14. Hey ryan first odf congrats on your victory. Very impressive. I am going to do the 2015 worlds toughest mudder and would love to have any advice or as much advice as possible. I would do this year but spent too much money on future events already . I would love to fb friend so we could message easier or email back and forth. I cant find alot of advice on the nternet about what to bring or what people's experience on what to do and not to do. My email is bigdan6271@hotmail.com. i hope to hear from you !
    Daniel S.

  15. First, Congratulations Ryan! Second, a friend of mine and I are going to enter this year in Las Vegas - it would be nice to shake the hand of last year's winner, and we would appreciate any training tips you have as well as where you found all of the information on Pak. We are not serious challengers to your crown, but we are going to attempt as much as we can endure! My email is energized71@gmail.com and if you have a spare moment I would truly appreciate it!

  16. Congrats on last year's race again! See ya in Vegas ;)

  17. This is how i always take part in Obstacle Run, Spartan Run and Tough Mudder in which we all can enjoy this kind of amazing events.