Prequel : If you have not yet done so, join the World’s Toughest Mudder Community Facebook Page group. This will be your best go-to resource of experienced veterans that can help after you read this blog post.
World’s Toughest Mudder Registration:
This is set by Tough Mudder Headquarters (TMHQ), but often they will send out coupon codes or offers during the year. If you miss the Early Bird Special (which has not been the best price for the past 2 years), keep an eye out for race specials. For 2015 and 2016 TMHQ has released various coupons for WTM during other TM events. Always ask in the WTM Facebook group if there any are circulating prior to registration.
Pit Crew Registration
For the past two years, some participants have received free pit codes. For 2016 two pit codes were automatically included in certain Early Bird Bundles. Before paying for Pit Registration, as if anyone has extra. There can be complications with registering your people under someone else’s name during Friday setup, but you should be solid come race day. As an aside, in 2015 they did not let Pit Crew into the pit on Friday without the Racer they were registered under, FYI. Also, some participants donate the extra codes to the Orphan Tent*. If you cannot find anyone with extra codes, check if the Orphan Tent organizers have extra room. Your Pit Crew should help out with the Tent if you do it this way, but it’s a good way to kill the time while you are out on course.
*The Orphan Tent is a group of Mudders who set up a community tent (or two, or three) to help mudders who don’t have their own tent/pit crew. Search the WTM Facebook group for more info on The Orphan Tent.
World’s Toughest Mudder Airfare:
As far as airfare goes, find an airfare tracker and keep an eye on it. Domestic flights *tend* to be cheapest about 6 weeks before the travel date. This is a rough approximation, NOT a rule. If you find a price you feel is acceptable, you may want to purchase it. THE EXCEPTION is SouthWest Airlines, which offer their cheapest flights as soon as the dates are available. Do not wait on Southwest tickets. You can also re-book Southwest tickets if the price drops and get a credit for the difference, up to one year.
Be aware of baggage fees. You can cut costs by getting the maximum allowed carry-on size and REALLY packing it in good. Most airlines will allow a “personal” item, such as purse, etc. Get the maximum sized bag for your “personal item” and pack that as well. Use a checked bag as a last resort, and make sure you have a few pounds of wiggle room in case you have to pack some damp things on the way home. If you can, see if any other racers are leaving on the same flight or airport, and ask if they have extra room in their bags.
Southwest allows two free checked bags, which I will tell you from experience (if properly packed) will fit all your gear, a tent, a week’s worth of clothes, enough gear for a second race, an additional month’s worth of clothes, souvenirs for friends and family, and a small cat. REALLY practice your packing skills. In 2016 I fit 100% of my essential gear into my carry-on, with spare clothes and backup gear in my checked bag.
World’s Toughest Mudder Lodging:
This one is easy. Everyone is getting a place to stay in Vegas, at least for Friday and Sunday. For this, all you need to do is ask. Someone somewhere has a spare couch, or a floor and a blanket. It won’t be luxury living, but it’s better than sleeping at the airport or in a car. Typically, because most of us are pretty cool, you can score a couch/floor for free, or a bed/part of bed, for a few bucks.
World’s Toughest Mudder Car Rental:
Pretty much the same as lodging, check who’s around. It’s a standard courtesy to chip in for gas/expenses, but if you’re really tight on funds most people would understand. If you are getting in on a weird day or hour, most hotels are not far from the airport. An Uber or Lyft can get you there for less money than a cab. Getting a ride to the event on Saturday should never be an issue. Since you are going to find people to stay with, you know where they are going on race day.
World’s Toughest Mudder Gear:
This is one of, if not the, biggest expense for most people. It really doesn’t have to be.
Here are the essentials:
I prefer the moderate priced wetsuits at Wetsuit Wearhouse, which are ~$100 with shipping. ORM has a discount code for this as well!
Make sure you get 100% 4-way or 6-way stretch neoprene, nothing else. You will regret anything else. If brand new is out of the budget, there are the private sale sites like eBay/Craigslist/Letgo, Facebook gear groups, and Clearance sites like REIOutlet/SierraTradingPost where you can find them for less.
It is a wise idea to begin any gear search with Amazon. You can read unbiased reviews and compare some basic prices.
There are also many places where you can rent a high quality wetsuit for cheap. They have insurance against rips/tears and I haven’t heard of anyone getting guff when returning one that’s been through WTM. These are typically triathalon wetsuits, so they will have stretch neoprene around the shoulders and hips for mobility. If you’re renting, go in and try the suit on for a while before the day you need to pick it up. Long enough to really annoy the guy behind the counter. You want to identify any pinching or rubbing prior to race day so you can compensate.
If you are reading this, you may not be able to afford two wetsuits, like many people are doing. If that’s the case, get the thickest one you expect to need. If it’s too warm during the day you can peel it down or leave it unzipped, and you can flush with cold water at most obstacles.
-Let’s Talk Wetsuit Numbers-
The first number of a wetsuit represents the thickness of the neoprene in the torso area, the second number represents the thickness of the neoprene in the extremities.
I, personally, use a 3/2, but I’m a big guy and don’t easily chill.
Thinner people often go with a 5/4, and the most temperature susceptible among us will go with a 6/5.
Take your mass into consideration when choosing a size.
Wetsuit accoutrements: Hood, gloves, socks
I did not need any of these three for 2015, but had them handy. However, remember this sage advice from most vets of any endurance event situation…
Better To Have It & Not Need It, Then To Need It & Not Have it.
Hoods get very warm, and some people have replaced them with beanies or wool hats for the middle of the night (if you have any lying around). For gloves and socks, many went with work gloves and normal socks instead of neoprene, but again, if you’re prone to getting cold, both are important. If you’re renting, you may be able to get a deal. If you’re buying, same advice as above: start combing various sites for deals. I got mine on Amazon, since they have a good return policy, and both were reasonably priced if you can squeeze it into your budget.
If you’re on a budget, just completely forget this. You will have to pay to bring it on most airlines, and there are way too many solo people with big tents. Put it out there that you need to share a spot and someone will step up. Probably the mucho macho guys who will lead into the conversation with “I don’t plan on pitting anytime during the race, so…”. Take advantage of these goons by reserving some floor space. It will also save you worrying about getting in early on Friday to reserve a pit site if cars/airfare is an issue.
If it’s still early in the year, keep your eyes out for sales. The Black Diamond Storm is a favorite at WTM. They just released a new version so the originals will probably be going on sale/clearance soon. Check the same sites as listed under wetsuits. If $35-$50 is out of your budget for a good quality headlamp, some people buy the cheapest headlamps they can find at Walmart (or similar) and seal all the cracks/joints with a putty or sealant. Do not do this until right before the event, and make sure there are fresh batteries in it as opening the battery compartment will compromise the seal. Always leave at least 24 hours for sealant to fully cure. Also, ask around before buying your own $5 tube of sealant as LOTS of people will have some sitting around the house or workshop. Additionally, a LOT of people may have spare headlamps sitting around the house as well that they’re willing to let you experiment with. You can also get a cheap, waterproof, strobe at Walmart; their “glowsticks” are about $3-$4 and will blink for 100+ hours (they are difficult to attach to a wetsuit, though). If you have it in your budget, I would strongly suggest a higher quality blinker like the eGear Guardian, or similar. This is a safety feature if you wander off course and get hurt, or fail to surface in a water obstacle. Please, please, please pack extra batteries.
Baselayer/Clothing Under Wetsuit
Baselayers are thin garments you wear under your wetsuit to prevent chaffing. They have special “rashguard” clothing for wetsuits than can be pretty expensive, and some people will use “compression gear” for the same purpose. Ditch all the high end running and wetsuit items. Get a longsleeve compression shirt and compression pants from Walmart. $10 each, unless you’re an XXL like me (try it on in store, compression articles run small). If you can budget it, get two. The first pair will not likely run out on you, it’s just nice to have a warm change of clothes if you need to stop and pit for something. Same goes for running clothes, get some Walmart or Target activewear. Is it exactly like a $100 UnderArmor compression or heat-gear shirt?
No? Is it worth $90 extra for UA? NO.
If you are doing WTM, you probably have some full-synthetic running clothes anyway, just use that if you aren’t worried about ripping some holes in it.
Gloves are always a big issue. I’ve tried every type of glove there is. Fishing gloves, ice fishing gloves, wetsuit gloves, madgrips, work gloves, lifting gloves, batting gloves, football receiver gloves, fingerless gloves, mechanix gloves, etc…Been doing this a long time. Best gloves I’ve found so far are the bulk LATEX dipped (NOT NITRILE) gloves you can get at the hardware stores. Some people will spray them with plasti-dip as well. I noticed a marginal, but not earth-shattering difference, so if you want to save the money you can forget that. The latex dipped gloves are very good at gripping wet rope, and do a good job of protecting your hands from splinters. They are decent on metal, but nothing I’ve ever found beats bare hands for things like Funky-Monkey, etc. Anyway, they are cheap. You should have two pairs, just in case, and you should not have difficulty splitting a 10-pack with someone else, or bumming a few pairs off of someone in advance.
High-end running shoes do make a difference, but they are expensive. If there is one area for WTM, that you are going to splurge on price or number of items to bring; Shoes would be it. You most likely have several pair you like that you your normally wear Tough Mudders and Spartans in. Bring those. Bring em all. They pack light and you can switch them up between laps much easier than a wetsuit.
Do NOT buy some pair JUST FOR WTM. That would be dumb. You need to know what these things feel like on your feet. While, nothing can create WTM race day conditions other than the race itself, get in them a lot on various terrain and obstacles do see which you like best.
Windbreaker – AKA The Secret Weapon
This very inexpensive item can literally save your life at this event. A windbreaker is easy to pack and will cut down MASSIVELY on wind (and therefore cold) during the event. My guess is that you have at least one in your closet right now. Go look for it, I’ll wait.
Found it? Awesome. Now put it in your suitcase.
World’s Toughest Mudder Everything Else:
There is no reason you can’t share food and water with other racers. I, personally, always have double what I need and most people are the same.
I could have fed and hydrated probably two more people from what I brought without impacting my own nutrition. Check out the orphan tent during the event, as that’s where a lot of spare food and water goes when people quit early. Honestly? I bet you could just walk down any row of tents and ask if anyone has extra food/water to spare and you’d be set. Careful about disturbing people in the middle of the night, though, many are cold and cranky, and some are sleeping.
If you cannot afford extra racing gear, such as additional pairs of running socks, or a spare compression set, or are trying to save space in your luggage, get dressed by the showers. If you get out of your wetsuit to pit for a while and dread putting those cold clothes back on, run to the showers and douse them with a little warm water, then dress and get out quickly. The showers have been known to run out of water unexpectedly, so use them sparingly and limit your time in them out of consideration for other racers.
When the dark sets in is when you’ll see people starting to leave the event. If you’re short on anything, ask them. Often, people who are done will have no issues giving away food and simple gear. No one wants to walk them back to the car, and some people won’t mind the loss of giving away their spare $30 headlamp or blinker, etc.
You can find discount gift cards to almost any store at TheGiftCardFans dot com. If you are patient you can often find sporting goods and clothing stores with gift cards up to 20% off (ex: get a $25 card for only $20). So if you absolutely have to buy something from Dick’s or Nike or wherever, and you can plan a little in advance, you can take up to an extra 20% the cost of goods by getting a discounted gift card.
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