The 2018 Tough Mudder X Championship has come and gone, but unlike the bars on the obstacles, the awesomeness of this event was not hard to grasp.
The Toughest Mile on the Planet was hosted in Doswell, VA at Meadow Events Park on June 8th. Athletes from all over the world descended upon Doswell to compete for a chance to win the $25,000 grand prize.
For many, this was their first taste of the Toughest Mile on the Planet -- a race that combines functional fitness and obstacle course racing -- and it only left them wanting more.
"I've never done anything like this before," said 17-year old Haley Adams. "I was really happy with my performance. I will definitely do another one. I am thinking about running the 24-hour World's Toughest Mudder race in November."
"I had no expectations because I didn't have anything to compare it to," said Brooke Ence. "I've never done one before; although I've wanted to for a while. I did really well for my first Tough Mudder / obstacle course race ever."
For others, this wasn't their first rodeo. The veterans knew the battles that the TMX course could provide and were prepared for war.
"Last summer I did this and I really underestimated it," said Sam Dancer. "I kind of like just goofed off all day, didn’t eat, didn't drink water, and I walked around talking to everybody. I didn’t even acknowledge that [the course] was deserving of any sort of strategy and literally thought it would be so easy that I could go out there and walk through it with ease. I ended up walking but not because it was easy, but because it is hard. So, I started implementing more grip stuff and it seemed to help a little bit."
"I worked for an OCR company for three years as a youth director, so I know that a lot that goes into this," said Shawn Ramirez. "I worked and played with these [obstacles] so I’m very familiar with them. Coming in, I just wanted to stay healthy. I wanted to make sure I didn’t go into the medic tent. In terms of my expectations I’m here to do my best, give these guys a run, and show them that age is definitely not a factor. I’m here to prove that theory right."
The TMX Championship course brought blood, sweat, and tears to the participating athletes, with an emphasis on the blood.
"I had huge rips in both hands like three or four of them on each hand," said former Navy SEAL turned professional MMA fighter and TMX rookie Mitch Aguiar. "They were just covered in blood and it made it very painful to grip ropes, or anything."
"I tore my hands really really bad," Ence said. "It got to the point where there was so much blood that I kept slipping. I keep wiping the blood off but I keep bleeding and kept slipping."
Whether you were new to an obstacle course racing or a seasoned veteran, this course forced athletes to dig deep and kill the quit inside them in order to keep fighting through the course when the course started to fight back.
"Once my hands ripped, that made everything super difficult because you need your grip for every obstacle essentially.," Aguiar said. "On the sled pulls, I had to wrap the rope around my wrist and pull with my wrists instead of my hands."
"I didn't have any tape, so before I even tried [the obstacle] I went to the medical [staff] and asked for scissors because I had skin just hanging; which also was making things slippery," Ence said. "So I hurry and I just cut the skin off, wiped my blood off on my pants, and then rubbed dirt on my hands to absorb the blood. Then I jumped up on the Funky Monkey and made it all the way across."
By taking one look at it, anyone can tell that the course is physically daunting, but the course can be just as daunting mentally as it is physically.
"Any time you do something more than one time your confidence level increases," said Ron Ortiz. "So just being out there and doing it, I think you have to be at a certain mental toughness level to continue through those obstacles and overcome them."
"In between the ears is where it’s at," Ramirez said. "For example, when you’re at the starting line, you’re surrounded by the other guys. You hear 'ok guys 30 seconds until we start' and you see all of the other guys start to breath heavy and try to get their heart rate right. Everyone’s getting into that zone and trying to start off relaxed because if you go in jacked up there’s no coming back. You’re done."
Standing at the highest podium with an over-sized check was the ultimate goal: however, for many participants their TMX experience was a great success.
"This felt like a podium finish," Sam Dancer said. "It felt good from top to bottom; the interactions with the athletes, volunteers, and the people coordinating the event, both me and my wife’s performance, our health -- we have that still -- so things are good."
If you weren't able to get to Virginia to watch the championship, no worries, CBS will be airing the event on July 14th, 21st, and 28th from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. EST so you can see how it unfolds.