How To Get 40 Miles at World’s Toughest Mudder

I was able to watch first hand as two friends of mine, J.D. Allen and Jared Campanella, competed in this year’s  World’s Toughest Mudder.

Jared spent half of the event in his sleeping bag curled up with his significant other.  J.D., on the other hand, never stopped.

They both finished the event on Sunday afternoon,  earning their black headband, after completing 8 laps.

I reached out to both men and emailed them identical questions to learn more about their experiences.

Name
J.D. Allen

Age
46

JD Run The ATl

City, State you reside in
Acworth/Kennesaw, GA

Height
5’10 ¾”

Weight
165# for WTM, Usually closer to 175# plus (didn’t try to lose weight – I actually tried to eat more and more often to prevent losing too much mass in the last couple of months leading up to WTM).

Best OCR finishes to date
2nd Place AG 2011 Carolinas Super Spartan
2nd Place AG Spring 2013 Atlanta Savage Race
2nd Place AG 2014 Superhero Scramble Georgia
3rd Place Elite AG Spring 2013 Savage Race (completed all obstacles, kept wristband)
(btw, I wasn’t aware of some of those finishes. I just looked them up on Athilinks.com)

Best road finishes to date
Didn’t die during #RuntheATL 2015
I finished the 2007 Ironman Wisconsin in just under 13 hours.
3rd Place AG, 25th Overall 2008 Motor City Triathlon
3rd Place AG 2006 Anchor Bay Triathlon
4th Place AG 2004 Pleasant Prairie Triathlon (This is the only time I have ever actually stood on the podium to get a medal during the awards ceremony – I got the third place medal, but later a timing error was corrected and I was actually in 4th. The other races either didn’t have awards ceremonies or I wasn’t able to attend)

Longest training run leading up to WTM
I ran 20 miles once or twice from my home to the top of Kennesaw mountain and back.
I also ran a couple of shorter (18 and 17 miles) from my home to top of Kennesaw Mountain and back.

WTM mileage goal
35 – 55 miles (but I really wanted to get 50 miles)

At what point in the race did you decide you could make/not make that goal?
At 2 am I had 30 miles, felt great and knew I could get 50 miles. I kept trying to tell myself “don’t trust your high” which I learned from the only entry I read on Nickademus’ blog.

At some point on lap 8, though, I decided that I couldn’t get up for The Cliff three more times. I could do it one more time, but that was it. I was also worrying that I wouldn’t be able to do The Liberator anymore because my strength was depleted. I didn’t want to get DQ’d and sacrifice all the mileage I had already put in. I sandbagged the rest of the lap until it was impossible to get even 1 more lap after lap 8.

What was your crew plan?
I brought my childhood friend Andy who was a runner and who had done a few Tough Mudders.
I knew he’d do what I asked and think of things I didn’t.
I knew he’d have food ready and waiting for me.
I knew exactly what food / Drink I wanted and when. I told him and he had it waiting.
I knew he’d be empathetic, trustworthy, and responsible.

I had instructions written on 3×5 cards. I planned on lamenting them but didn’t get to it. Instead I just put them in a zip lock bag and Andy carried them with him. 

At some point you made a decision to suffer more or suffer less, when was that and what had you make that decision?
I was never in much pain. I was never cold.
When I went out on lap 8 I decided that I wouldn’t put myself through the mental anguish of The Cliff (and I wouldn’t take the electroshock therapy penalty) I couldn’t face The Cliff more than 1 more time. I wasn’t going to do any more laps. Every jump was very difficult for me psychologically. I was terrified every time and it wasn’t getting better. It took everything to jump each time. I didn’t think I’d have the mental resolve to do it any more. It took mental grit to jump, but I was afraid that I didn’t have the toughness to do it any more.

JD Cliff

What did you think of the other person as you saw each other at 2am?/10am?
2 am: I thought he was done and he wasn’t going to be coming back. He was asleep after being near hypothermic.
I thought “Won’t the folks at home be surprised when they see that I completed the most mileage out of our guys from Georgia” (I was sure I was going to get at least 9 laps and have more mileage than Christian, and I was sure that Jared was done).

Because Jared is such a great athlete I thought it would be fun to finish with more miles/laps than he.

Mostly, though, I was just thinking about my race and (since he didn’t seem to be in any danger) I wasn’t giving Jared much thought.

10 am: When I left our tents for lap 8, Jared was in a sleeping bag. I didn’t give him much of a thought. He passed me the first time on that lap before Mile 2. He passed me the second time after mile 4. I was surprised he got up and went back out to run again. I knew he was fast enough to make up a lot of miles. He was flying, but I didn’t think he could catch up to my mileage. But he did.

Is there anything you want to say to the other person?

Good job rallying back and getting back out there.
Let’s talk about cold weather gear/strategies for next year.
I have an extra wet-suit you can borrow if you need it.

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J.D. Allen

Name

Jared Campanella

City, State you reside in

Woodstock, GA

Age

25

Jared Warrior

Height

5’11

Weight

163 lbs.

Best OCRs finish to date

This year I took home a paddle for most laps completed in BattleFrog Extreme (BFX), Came in 2nd overall in Rugged Maniac, and 3rd overall in the Gwinnett Jailbreak Challenge.

Best road finish to date 

In October 2014, I came in 3rd overall in a 5k road race called Superheroes vs. Villains and I hit a PR of 18:54

Longest training run leading up to WTM

My longest training run was about 15 miles but my real training was done while competing in ultra-marathons this year. Between 6 ultra/endurance events, I ran a combined total of 320+ miles

WTM mileage goal

To hit at least 50 miles

At what point in the race did you decide you could make/not make that goal?

Once the sun went down and the temperature dropped into the 40s with wind coming off the lake, I started shivering very badly even though I had 2 wetsuits on. I knew at that point that I had to wait until the sun came back up to continue running or risk getting hypothermia. That decision lead to me coming short of my goal.

What was your crew plan?

My significant other, Cassy Aslani, was my one pit crew member and her main goal was to keep me hydrated and consuming as many calories as possible throughout the race. Cassy would check with me at an obstacle that was close to the finish line to see what I needed and she would run back to the pit to grab everything so she can pass it off to me at the completion of the lap. This plan made for little to no transition time at the pit between laps which worked very well.

At some point you made a decision to suffer more or suffer less, when was that and what had you make that decision?

Part way through my 5th lap, my core temperature started dropping and I couldn’t regulate my body temperature leading me to shiver very badly for the second half of the lap. Each time I would dunk into the cold water at an obstacle, my muscles would start to crap, an issue which I had never experienced before, and my hands were feeling cold and stiff making it hard to complete obstacles. When I came into the pit after completing my 5th lap, Cassy wrapped me in a space blanket and no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop shivering. At this point, I decided since the temperatures were only going to go down more and the wind was picking up, I needed to get the wetsuits off and try my best to warm up and rest so I could hit the course hard in the morning when the sun came back up.

Jared Bunked InWhat did you think of the other person as you saw each other at 2am?/10am?

2 AM: I was very impressed by J.D. Despite the cold and lack of sleep, he was dancing and singing at 2 AM and he looked like he was having the time of his life out there.

10 AM: I saw J.D. right as he was heading out for his 8th and final lap and though he still had a smile on his face, I could tell that the lack of sleep was wearing on him paired with the constant physical exertion he was putting forward to complete the obstacles.

Is there anything you want to say to the other person?

I want to say to J.D. that he’s champion in my book and that I wish I could have been out on the course with him throughout the night instead of shivering under a space blanket in the south pit. I also want to tell him that I’m thoroughly impressed by the huge effort he put forward to keep hitting lap after lap for a full 24 hours. To some endurance athletes, 8 laps or 40 miles in 24 hours may not seem that impressive but anyone who was out there with us at Lake Las Vegas in the middle of the night would understand just how big of an accomplishment that really is.

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Jared Lap 8

 

Photo credits: Jared Campanella, J.D. Allen, Tough Mudder, The MudCrusher, Cassy Aslani

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.

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Comments

  1. Can I correct my own typos here?
    “3rd Place Elite AG Spring 2013 Savage Race (completed all obstacles, kept wristband)” this was actually this year, 2015, not 2013.

    And, I was going to laminate those 3×5 cards, not lament them. I don’t even know under what circumstances I would lament them.