"The timorous may stay at home."
~ Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 483 (N.Y. 1929)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ten Commandments of World's Toughest Mudder: Part I

What two wetsuits and a hood look like
(1) Thou shall respect the power of neoprene

While there were many different types of crazy at WTM, it quickly became apparent that many people underestimated the cold. Compression gear, whether CW-X or Under Armour, does wonders, but mostly only when it's dry. When the 40 degree water hits (as it did in the second obstacle), all of those wetsuit-haters began to realize that they had made a critical tactical error. I was one of them. Given that it was a sunny, mid-40's day, I didn't plan to put on my wetsuit until after the first lap. Needless to say, the first lap was perhaps the coldest, and most miserable, that I was during the entire 24 hours. Once I was fully armored in layers of neoprene: socks, hood, wetsuit (and 2 wetsuits in the later laps), my core stayed toasty, even during the full submersions.

Of course everyone asks about chafing. Lube up, people, and you will be fine: Bodyglide, vaseline, buttpaste, diaper rash cream. All work wonders.

All stripping down was done separately
(2) Thou shall dry off completely between laps

That's right. Strip your ass down and get nekkid. I know its cold, and I know you are wet, but as most outdoor survivalists tell you (of which I am not), when you are hypothermic, getting everything wet off is key. Bring towels--lots of towels. I went through about 6 just drying myself off between laps. Once naked, jump in your sleeping bag, conveniently warmed with handwarmers or MRE-heaters shaken and thrown in the bottom. I repeated this routine between every lap (save the last two--no time, which made the last lap miserable). Getting the core temp back to normal saved my sometimes-boney ass.

Yes, your wetsuit is going to be wetsuit (or sometimes, completely frozen solid. WTF?) when you reemerge. But through on some dry compression gear underneath, and get back out there to embrace the suck.

(3) Thou shall know the beauty of aid stations

Yeah yeah yeah. We all run road races where we are "too good" to stop at the aid stations. We learn to drink our water while running (it's an art, really). But when you are going for 24 hours, pace is the key. And learning how to utilize what is out there on the course is just playing smart. By the final three laps, Joel (my partner-in-crime who will get a full introduction later) and I were stopping at almost every aide station and medical tent for one main reason: the hot water. Not to drink (though it's helpful if you do that as well), but to warm the frozen phalanges. We figured out the best way to do so: pouring the hot water in cups, and basically dipping the fingers (this is assuming you are wearing neoprene gloves. If not, hello third degree burns...) until they regained feeling. For the feet, pour the hot water down into your neoprene socks.

It may have looked funny, but I came away with all my phalanges with little to no frostnip. Win!

Commandments 4-10 will follow in subsequent posts...Stay tuned.


  1. Good Stuff, yes stripping naked in a tent was interesting to say the least when it was barely in the 20's outside but was well worth it!