My WTM 2014 Saga – Part One

Start Line Sean Doing His Thing

I was down on one knee listening to “Start Line Sean” Corvelle’s pre WTM speech. I have heard his “pump up” speech many, many times since my first Tough Mudder back in 2012, and, to be honest, I was beginning to tune it out. My mind was starting to drift off as I had already stood there for almost 30 minutes listening to the “safety speech” and the “rules speech”. Now I had to listen to Sean do his thing. On top of that, these were not ideal conditions. When 1100 people crouch down at once in the desert, lots of dust gets kicked up. I was wiping dirt from my eyes, and pulling rocks out of my knees, trying to get comfortable. “Let’s get this over already”, I thought.

Then, he said it…

“When was the last time, you did something for the first time?”

This woke me up.

Then, he said it again.

“When was the last time, you did something for the first time?”

All of a sudden, I was present and in the moment. And what a moment it was. I knew I was about to do something I had never done before. I was going to try to run for 24 hours straight with a bunch of bad ass obstacles in my way including a 35 foot drop straight to hell.  I looked at all the competitors around me and felt that camaraderie one only gets at the start line of something epic. You give each other that look and they give it right back to you along with a high-five or a hug or a fist bump.

I looked around to the left and to the right of the starting line area and saw families and blue bibbed crew members everywhere cheering us on.

I had stood where those families and friends stood in 2012 and 2013 in Raceway Park, NJ. I always was wowed at how brave and cool those athletes were for taking on an event like WTM, and here I was, finally one of them, ready to do battle along side them.

A sea of blue bibs watches us start

(Side note: Awesome move on TM’s part to give those blue bibs out. As the event went on, those bibs went on to become “ask me for help'” sign to those that did not have crews. I witnessed Blue Bibs helping anyone nearby, many times without being asked).

My long time OCR and travel buddy David Moore (D-Mo) and I had a plan for WTM, sort of. I met D-Mo in Sept of 2012. We had bonded as we began the 2nd lap together at The first Ultra Beast in Vermont. It was also the first DNF for both of us. Back then, we were just two guys trying to survive the suck and beat the clock. We have traveled a long OCR road together since at many races and have both found a way to make this sport our way to make a living. ORM is my baby and David is now the Creative Director for Battlefrog.

Anyhow, our sort-of plan in the weeks leading up to WTM was to stick together as long as we could.  Come the morning of, I could tell David had a different way of looking at WTM. We had learned there were several penalty laps involved which could slow you down and add mileage. Knowing my grip strength needs some work, I asked if David  if he would stick with me if I had penalties that he didn’t have. He was afraid to say no, but I could tell he did not want to be slowed down. I knew there was no way I was going to survive 24 hours alone so I needed to find running mates, fast.

Ryan Meade has made GoPro videos over the years that attract thousands of views. While many athletes record their race and show all the obstacles through a shaky camera with some horrible music track playing over, Ryan outshines them in a big way. Through his amazing, patented, Hockey-Stick-GoPro-View, Ryan shows some amazing angles, and along with interesting graphics and notes, make the videos really enjoyable. One fellow Mudder would say to Ryan later in the day. “All the races I don’t get to, I feel like I was there through your videos”. Ryan and I were going to be in the same tent at WTM, but we didn’t really talk about running together. When I realized D-Mo was going to do his own thing, I asked Ryan if he’d stay with me. He said “Sure” and let me know that he planned on taking his time, especially in the early going to get good video, and this relaxed me a great deal.

As Start Line Sean asked us to high five and hug our fellow Mudders, Ryan and I spotted Dr. James Hale (Doc). Doc and I met briefly last year in New Jersey, and had become Twitter buddies. The three of us took off together having no idea we would stay together for the next 24 hours.

Lap One of no obstacles came and went, as we saw our buddy D-MO take off ahead of us never to look back. We commented on this new terrain, and talked about what it might be like to jump off The Cliff that silently, yet overwhelmingly waited for us. As we crossed the “finish” line, I came in to my tent area and saw all the food I had set up, including sandwiches made by my crew of J.D. Allen and Gail Barman (who also doubled as ORM’s media team). I was so happy they pre-made me sandwiches, and was equally thrilled that I was over-prepared with lots of water, gatorade, and cans of soup all laid out ready for consumption. I may have even let myself had the foolish notion of ” That was a piece of cake, run a lap, come back here, get some food. How hard can this be anyway?”


Part Two coming soon…

Photos courtesy of Tough Mudder (top photo), J.D. Allen (middle photo), Kyoul Cha (bottom photo)

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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