This year everything was perfect. The weather was warm and there was no wind. My nutrition was spot on and I didn’t get diarrhea, I didn’t even need to stop once. I had the best pit crew and fans in the world. I ran smoothly and was coherent the whole time. Everything came together for an epic weekend and I knocked 2 giant things off my bucket list with TV camera’s rolling. 1 of those things I never thought I would accomplish….Winning the World’s Toughest Mudder!
I didn’t start doing WTM specific training until Oct. 3 (after Spartan WC). That doesn’t mean I sat around. I trained my ass off all spring to run 35 miles and win Portland BFX, then I trained my ass off all summer to race the Spartan UltraBeast in Killington Vermont. I finished 2nd place there after switching leads with crazy Nor’easter Joshua Fiore.
Killington was 31 miles, extremely hilly, and took the winner and myself just under 9 hours. It was also on Sept. 17, just 2 months before World’s Toughest Mudder. So that was a satisfactory final long run in my opinion. I did not need to go out there and do a hard 5+ hour run in preparation for WTM anymore.
So right after Spartan WC I went into WTM mode. My fiancee and I rented a house in Bend, Or so we could get away from everything and focus on training. Kinda like Quentin Cassidy in “Once a Runner”. This training retreat was great for my body and mind.
The meat and potatoes of my training was Running and Rock Climbing. I ran 6 days a week and averaged 70 miles, 13,000 ft. of gain, and 13 hours moving. My runs were slow and usually lasted 90 minutes to 3.5 hours each. Running slow was crucial to my body being able to handle running that long 6 days a week. I did not do any speed work nor any specific hill training. Every run I did involved hills, I just got out there and explored everyday.
I rock climbed every other day, so 3-4x a week. I had no specific focus at the rock gym. I just had a good time and tried to improve my skill. Every time I got on the wall I started my stop watch and when I got off I stopped it. I aimed to do 20-30 minutes of time on the wall each day, usually 20-30 routes depending on if I was bouldering or big wall climbing. I preferred to boulder because the moves are harder and more powerful.
When not running or rock climbing I was out on the amazing MTB trails riding, Bend has a lot to offer. This was a good workout and a great way to get in extra cardio without beating down the body. Atkins does it, so should you!
My fiancee is training for an Ironman so when I had nothing else to do I would join her at the swim gym some evenings to do laps. Great cardio, great skill work, and great place to hangout after a day on the trails.
From Oct. 3 – Oct. 23 I was doing 18-20 hours a week of cardio. After that I dropped my training significantly. I probably ran 50 miles those 3 weeks before WTM on Nov. 12.
The only change I made this year was buying a new wetsuit. I bought the HEAD swim run 2mm suit. It has pockets on the inside and a front and back zipper on the torso. I tested it running in the snow and swimming in a glacier lake. I froze my ass off and couldn’t operate my hands after 2 hours. So 39F and below is my suits limits, check. Another day I tested it in 54 degree rainy weather while running and swimming in a 60 degree lake. 2 hours later I was warm and even sweating a little. I knew Vegas would be around 40 and the water was around 60 so I felt confident I’d survive 2016.
During night ops I wore my Blue Seventy swim cap, a running belt to carry Gels, and a black diamond spot headlamp. I brought 4 headlamps and only lost 1 when I jumped off the cliff. To avoid losing further headlamps on the cliff I started stuffing them down the neck of my wetsuit before I jumped. I brought 6 pairs of Neoprene gloves because I get cold hands and figured I could changed them whenever they got wet. I never used a single pair though.
Rewind to the first 5 hours of the race before night ops. I wore Salomon S lab ultra sense shoes, Injinji compression socks with neoprene socks over, Moxie Gaiters, CWX compression tights, and a Salomon running vest with 1.5 liter bladder. My Salomon shoes still looked brand new after 105 WTM miles.
What I raced with I trained with, everyday. My race nutrition was all liquid calories. Carbs, electrolytes, and amino acids mixed into water. We filled 4 jugs (1 gallon each) of this mix and had an extra jug of water to help wash it down. My fiancee mixed each jug in different ratio’s to compensate for when I started taking gels mid lap at night. She labeled the jugs accordingly and I drank them as she instructed. She’s the mixologist and I’m the drinker so I won’t go into much detail, but after last years Tailwind disaster I have to say. This new mix is genius. I felt strong and coherent the whole race. I never got hungry.
During the day (hours 1-5) I ran with a 1.5 liter hydration vest. In training I could go 4 hours on a bladder, but to stay ahead of a potential bonk I only went 2.5 hours before refilling the bladder. I drank 2 bladder fulls (3 liters) and water at the aid station each lap before night ops.
When night ops struck I chucked the vest and threw my wetsuit on over everything else. I threw some GU gels (non caffeine) into my running belt and took off. At the mid lap aid station I took 1 gel with 2 cups of water every lap after 5pm until the finish. In the pits I drank 12 oz. of my mix and 4-8 oz. of water. This is what kept me alive and moving. Occasionally I’d have a 5 hour or some naproxen to give me a boost or kill some pain.
The night before the race I went to the Tough Mudder carb load dinner. I ate a huge amount of noodles and a little chicken. I was glad I attended the dinner because the race directors were there to give tips on the new obstacles and they were helpful.
The morning of the race I woke at 9am, ate a PB and banana waffle then walked down to the race. I got ready at the pit, talked with some awesome WTM athletes, and sold some of my signature Ground Pounder hats ($20 for 1, $30 for 2). Around 1050 I headed over to the starting line to sit in the shade and secure a front spot with Wesley Kerr.
My plan was simple and it’s the same every year. Run slow and steady, the turtle wins the race. The only reason I continue to do better is because my slow pace continues to get faster. Why? Because after years of consistent training my body has become a faster and more efficient machine. That’s all it takes, time and consistency.
During the sprint hour (1 hour running with no obstacles) I ran at conversation pace, but still managed to get over 8 miles in before the horn blew and I hit my first obstacle, Kiss of mud. My first lap was 38:25, my fastest ever, and I felt like I jogged it. I wasn’t even in the top 20! Those guys went out way too fast.
The first 3 laps I ran with Wesley Kerr. It wasn’t arranged or planned, and we weren’t really even talking. We were just running the same pace and both of us wouldn’t let the other get away because we had the same goal, 100 miles. I lost Wesley in the pits when he stopped for nutrition. Wearing a bladder the first 5 hours was one of the smartest changes I made this year, it allowed me skip the pits and shave minutes off the competition during the day, a time when they are running their strongest.
After losing Kerr I aimed to finish 6 laps before night ops began at 1700. Tricky part is if you wait too long and become cold, then a wetsuit change wont necessarily warm you up and you’ll start in the negative. The whole reason to postpone a wetsuit change is because you can move much faster without one.
I finished lap 5 at 1612 and had enough time to do another lap before it was completely dark, but the sun had already disappeared behind the mountain. There was daylight but the course was in the shade. All I could think about was dipping in Augustus Gloop again…so cold! So I decided to change into my wetsuit 45 minutes early. The change took 3 minutes with my excellent pit crew working like a Nascar team.
From laps 5 -12 I continued to run flawlessly besides a stupid slip on double rainbow when CBS was filming. I didn’t keep track of my standings because my goal was 100 miles, not to win the race. So I never asked my pit crew and they never told me. I did find out on lap 8 that I was in 4th place and 40 minutes behind Pak, who was followed by Nickademus and Mendoza. I remember thinking “Mendoza is in 3rd! He’s killing it”. I was very happy to hear that, Mendoza is a close friend and he was giving it his all in this race.
Somehow in between lap 8 and lap 12 I would chip away those 40 minutes and move into first place. Here’s what happened:
I can only speculate that Pak and Nickademus fed off each others energy from the start and pushed each others limits for the first 12 hours of the race, as they did in 2014. They like to go out fast, take an early lead, and have the target on their backs the whole time. I can’t relate to that. Either way it’s a dangerous game to play as you can see. Somewhere around lap 10 or 11 I heard from my pit crew that Pak and Nick didn’t look good and they were slowing down. Later I learned that Pak had nutrition issues (similar to me last year with sugar) and Nick seized up. I took the news in but didn’t change a thing. I just kept shuffling along and focusing on running a clean race. All I could think about was the 100 miles, I wanted that orange bib, and when I got my 50 miles in 9:55, less than an hour a lap average at the halfway point, I knew that orange bib was mine. I technically had 15:30 hours to wrap up another 50 miles.
On my 12th lap I caught Mendoza during the grappler obstacle and passed him shortly after. We were happy to finally see each other and he congratulated me and told me to go get first place. I hoped he hadn’t hit a wall. Coming near the end of lap 12 a volunteer yelled to me “you have 5 minutes before the cliff opens, better hurry”….Hurry? I can’t wait for it to open! I did not like that long ass 0.6 mile detour. I slowed my pace a bit and timed it perfect. I hit the cliff 5 seconds after it opened. There was a group of 5 or so racers who were waiting for the cliff to open and when seeing me, they let me go first. I jumped off, swam as fast as I could across, and climbed up sprinting into the pits with a lap time of 1:01, my fastest night ops lap. When I arrived my pit crew had that wide eyed look on their face. Matt Luce said “Trevor, you just moved into 1st place when you jumped off the cliff”…..1st place! Shit I gotta go! I guess Pak and Nick were taking the detour when I jumped. Not only did I pass them, I snuck ahead and they didn’t know it yet. Now was the time to put some distance between us.
Lap 13 was a whole new experience to me. I have never led a lap in WTM and with 12 hours left in the race it was a scary thing to do. 1,500 people wanted to take me down. I ran too fast and was clumsy on the obstacles. I fumbled 3 times in a row on grappler and had to take the penalty. Stupid me. I was pissed. I had just taken over the lead, I am the potential WTM champion, and I failed the grappler. I cursed my way 3 times up and down the small hill for the penalty. Jeff Locke could see I was beating myself up and he calmed me down. He set my head straight. Ok cool, lets keep going.
I rappelled down the cliff, climbed up pyramid scheme, and moved over to Funky Monkey the revolution. I dried my hands as usual and started my way up the bars. I hit a wet and muddy bar and my grip started to slip. No! Hold on, I tried to skip it and keep going. I slipped off. Failed obstacle #2 on my first leader lap. What a rook! The whole sandbag carry penalty I thought to myself “You’re going to get 100 miles, that’s what you worked for and you earned it. 1st place is just a gift that fell in your lap, if you lose it who cares? Just keep running, have a good time, and get that orange bib.”…..That’s what I did. I stopped caring about 1st place. I changed my mindset and took that weight off my back.
I wrapped up 15 laps and 75 miles in 15:39, not even close to sunrise and I had earned my silver bib. My pit crew was still buzzing with excitement and were monitoring the guys behind me. Pak had dropped out, I lapped Nickademus on lap 14, and Mendoza was slowing down….but there was this guy Austin Azar slowing gaining on me. Everyone I talked to was saying “who is Austin”….I know Austin too well. Not only is he the BFX 24 champion of 2016. He also dusts me in every short distance race I have ever raced him in. He is 6’2, 190 pounds, and a complete beast. Here is Austin chasing me down:
When I heard Austin dropped from teaming up with Hunter, I thought “It’s either him or Nickademus to win it this year”. I hate when my predictions are right.
When the sun came up I received the Black Ops bib from Nolan in the pits. This was a pleasant surprise, it’s a cool looking bib and I never thought it possible to obtain. I had just finished 17 laps, 85 WTM miles, in 18 hours. 6 hours and 15 more miles to go….I need to slow down, I thought….
On lap 19 at 8:30 in the morning I had just climbed out from under Kiss of Mud and my pit crew Jeff Locke came to me and said “Trevor, Austin is going to pass you this lap, don’t worry about it, just keep running you pace and push him”. I had nothing to say but “ok, roger that”. I was a little disappointed in myself that I couldn’t pull away, but I had done the impossible already in my eyes and led the race for 8.5 hours!
Walking up the hill towards Ladder to Hell I turned around and saw Austin. He’s easy to spot, he’s a monster. He pointed to me and I pointed back. On the downhill after the Ladder he flew past me like a gazelle. He looked strong and was moving far faster than me. I thought there was no way I could beat him today, but if he was going to win I was going to make him earn it. I decided to push him as hard as I could. I’d make him run 110 to win, maybe more. I had a goal now, a purpose.
When I finished lap 19 and got into the pits my pit crew told everyone to be quite, “don’t say Trevor’s name” they said. Austin was doing a CBS interview and they wanted me to sneak past him. I drank my red cup as fast as I could and started to leave, but Austin saw me. He raced to leave and we both started lap 20 side by side. CBS was ecstatic and they followed us up the hill. We chatted a bit as we walked the hill and Austin had nothing but nice things to say. He’s a real class act. At the top of the hill as Austin started to pull away I said “Don’t let a team beat an individual”…and he took off. From what I heard Atkins and Albon were on their 20th lap and only 10 minutes ahead.
I did my best to keep Austin in sight through the early stages of lap 20. I still had my leader bib on and people were giving me priority saying “here comes the leader”, but I had to correct them. “No I’m in second place, there’s the leader” as I pointed ahead. After Double Rainbow at the top of hill 1, I lost Austin. He was outta sight.
Now I don’t know if Austin pushed so hard because he wanted to catch Atkins and Albon, or if he was trying to create a comfortable gap on me. All I know is that when I saw him at ladder to hell (where he passed me last lap) he was walking down hill and stripping off his wetsuit. My father in law Mike Miller was up there and he said “There he is Trevor, now’s your time to take him”. I could see that he was hot, I was hot too, but he was chatting with another competitor so I didn’t think it was an emergency. I ran by and didn’t say a word hoping to slip by unnoticed. CBS was waiting at the next obstacle and asked if I was in first, I said yes and they buzzed into action faster than ever. I cruised through the remainder of the lap and finished 20 laps and 100 WTM miles in 22:03!….I had finally reached my 3 year long goal!
There was no time to celebrate though. I had only just passed Austin less than a mile back and there was 2 hours left in the race! I slammed another red cup and started lap 21 in stride with Atkins and Albon, who were walking a victory lap. I didn’t have time to congratulate them though, I still had a victory to secure.
Through the whole 21st lap I kept asking my pit crew “How far back is Austin”, and I couldn’t get a solid answer. At first they said “we don’t know”, which eventually turned into “He is still on lap 20, he hasn’t finished 100 miles”…What!? He looked so strong, what the hell happened? When I got to funky monkey and slipped off the last wheel failing my 4th and last obstacle, my pit crew said “Don’t beat yourself up Trevor, Austin is being medically evaluated for heat exhaustion, just slow down and don’t become one yourself”. I walked the penalty but still didn’t give up on Austin. I ran up the small hill towards Block Ness Monster and kept going as hard as I could. I kept saying to myself “He can still catch you, keep moving”. I cruised through double rainbow (favorite obstacle), back stabber, and kiss of mud. When I reached the ladder to hell I found out that Austin had finished lap 20 but wasn’t starting another one. I was 4 miles in to lap 21 and I could finally relax. I asked a fellow competitor the time and he said “1120”. Crap! 40 minutes still. I’ll have to do another lap. I had the strength to do it, but I didn’t have a reason. My feet hurt and my body was tired, sitting in a chair was a very attractive idea. I weighed the decision heavily and after the cliff jump I decided to sit at the finish line and wait out the last 30 minutes. I had just run 105 miles in 23:29, my family and friends were there with me, and I was satisfied and very tired. I decided to stand there with them all and visit for awhile. I told CBS my plans and they moved ahead to film me at the finish in 30 minutes. As competitors approached Matt Luce asked them all to group up behind me so we could all run in together. Jim Campbell was right behind me during all of this to organize and lend a helping hand. I saw Jim a lot during this race and he is a great guy. It’s an honor to know him, he has been through a lot.
At the 10 second countdown I put on my GroundPounder hat and held up Old Glory as we ran through the finish line together! It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I had done the impossible and won the World’s Toughest Mudder! best of all, I had done it with the audience of people I look up to and love.
Thank you Alisha Miller, Crystal Locke, Jeff Locke, and Matthew Luce for being my pit crew this year. You really are the best.
Thank you to everyone who came to cheer me on in Las Vegas. I love you all.
Congratulations to Austin Azar, Chad Trammel, Robert Killian, Kris Mendoza, and Jon Albon on getting your orange jacket and joining the 100 mile club.
Most of all, thank you for your support and congratulations on reaching your goals to the whole Tough Mudder community. You’re all the best!
Thank you Heathen Brewing for the Sponsorship, support, and delicious beer
Do yourself and everyone else a favor and don’t wear gloves on the obstacles. Your wet gloves make the bars wet and when mixed with mud, it creates a slippery situation, even if you dry your hands. Always remove your gloves and dust your hands dry in the dirt before an obstacle like Funky Monkey, Stage 5 clinger, Double Rainbow, or Kong. I didn’t wear glove the entire race, but when I do, I take them off and shove them down the neck of my wetsuit before a difficult hanging obstacle.
Hydrate, I drank 2 cups of water each lap at the aid station and about 6-8 ounces each time I hit the pits. Stay ahead of it but don’t overdo it.
Eating, I don’t eat because it takes too much time to chew. I tried to eat a pretzel and after 1 I gave up. I tried a protein shake and it gave me gas. The only thing that works for me is maltodextrin (simple carbs) and electrolytes.
Dealing with pain. My secret weapon for pain is Naproxen. No matter how bad I hurt I never touch it the first 12 hours of a race. I save that shit for when I really need it, late in the game.
Energy, 5 hour energies are my go to for an extra boost when I need it. I can feel the difference when I take them. I use them strategically for a speed boost. Like when I need to run away from Austin. Don’t take too many though. I think I only had 2 this year.
If you have questions please comment below and I will answer ASAP. Thanks for reading.
Here is a link to the Tough Mudder show on CBS