Below are a few quick thoughts on Tough Mudder’s, Toughest Whistler event.
Midnight Start: It’s challenging to figure out how to tackle the start time of this event. What should competitors do all day? Should they sleep all day? Go for a walk or a run to loosen up? How should they eat? Snack all day? Carb load like normal? This adds uniqueness to the event and is part of the appeal.
Running at Night:
Starting the race at midnight means running the majority of the race at night, which is another unique aspect to this race. However I found running at night to lose its appeal rather quickly. The darkness is unchanging and dull. The dullness of night could be argued as an additional mental challenge of this event, but it’s not a rewarding challenge to overcome. Especially when running at night through the gorgeous nature of Whistler Olympic Park. Being unable to view the beautiful surroundings due to the darkness is somewhat of a disservice to the participants.
Obstacles: The obstacles did not disappoint. All of the Tough Mudder “staple” obstacles were present and as big and awesome as advertised (Funky Monkey the Revolution, Hangtime, Augustus Gloop, Stage 5 Clinger, Arctic Enema, Operation, Everest 2.0/Grappler, Blockness Monster, and Kong)! Arctic Enema was given a new twist with it being covered in a black shroud. The shroud blocked out all the light, creating a pitch black ice bath. Obstacles were also strategically placed throughout the course, making the obstacles more difficulty. For example Operation was strategically placed immediately after Arctic Enema. Forcing racers to control their shivering or risk being electrocuted. Unfortunately though, Kong ended up being closed for the majority of the race.
Mud Mile 2.0: Was a joke. There was barely any water in the trenches, making navigation of this obstacle extremely easy. This obstacle was made even easier by being able to skirt the sides and not enter the trenches until the last two. Skirting the sides was done by the vast majority of people (elite competitors, average joes, and podium finishers). Technically speaking even though competitors were skirting the sides they were still within the obstacle boundaries as dictated by the flagging, and therefore not cheating. Hopefully better flagging and/or a volunteer placed here in the future would help avoid this problem…this is an obstacle course race so let’s do the obstacles.
Terrain: Consisted mostly of wide gravel and dirt roads, with one small section of technical single track. The course was more of a dirt road run, than a trail run. The elevation change per lap was relatively minimal (< 300 m of gain per lap), that is until the Ski Jump slope opened at 5:00 AM. Once the ski jump slope was opened racers, climbed up the same 37 degree slope as the Red Bull 400.
Final Thoughts: Toughest Mudder Whistler was a good event. Starting a race at midnight is one of the big draws to this event, and it is a unique and challenging experience. However, I believe that running at night is a novelty that may not last. Especially when running in such a gorgeous area like Whistler. It’s a shame to spend 8 hours in a picturesque environment and only be able to enjoy the scenery for 3 hours. Additionally the time frame of this event, essentially takes up the whole weekend as Saturday is spent resting for the race and Sunday is spent sleeping. I do believe I’ll do another Toughest event in the future, however a destination like Whistler would be less of a draw. I’d rather run somewhere where the scenery is less appealing, therefore I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything while running at night. I’d also be more inclined to take part in this event if it would take place either Friday at midnight (Saturday morning) or during the day Saturday (even 4:00 PM-12:00 AM would be more manageable) so that Sunday isn’t wasted sleeping all day. That way weekend warriors can at least get one day to enjoy the area or city, we more than likely had to drive and or fly too. Making the trip that much more worth it.