A Fruitvale resident is about to tackle arguably the most difficult and diabolical challenge ever devised by humankind.
Like all participants, 35-year-old Russell Paterson signed the “Death Waiver” and will embark on a journey through what was formerly known as hell, but is now referred to as the World’s Toughest Mudder competition set to go in Englishtown, N.J. on Saturday.
It’s genesis comes from the Tough Mudder event series held across the globe that has seen a half million mudders participate – including 20 or so Greater Trail athletes at an event in Whistler in June.
But apparently the Tough Mudder was not tough enough.
Organizers now bring together the top five per cent of mudder participants, including Patterson, to compete in an obstacle course of epic proportions in the World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) contest.
“It’s exciting and nerve wracking,” said Paterson who qualified in Whistler.
“I’ve done the Christina Lake triathlon, and I use to be in the army, so it’s having something to keep my goals up, and set my mind towards.”
Unlike the Tough Mudder events – where there are no prizes for finishing first, only the satisfaction of competing and completing a very challenging course – WTM is an extremely competitive race where the top men and women take home a $15,000 cash prize and $20,000 for the top team.
According to organizers, the race is not just about completing a 17-kilometre obstacle course devised by British Special Forces, it’s about how many times you can complete that course in a 24 hour period, climbing, crawling, running, and swimming through mud, fire, ice-water, and 10,000 volts of electricity alone in the cold and dark.
Paterson’s preparation for the unique event includes kilometres of running and hours of body work, as well as serving in the military at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton for five years.
“In the military, you do a lot of going through things without sleep, and it seems like they always want to do things in the cold . . . you definitely get a mindset used to being cold and lacking sleep and being uncomfortable – so that helps for sure.”
Competitors have to complete each of the 25 obstacles on the 10-mile course, as many times as possible over the two days.
“When it’s a 24-hour event, you have to employ a strategy, you can’t just go out there and just keep running or try to keep pace with people, I think you have to go, ‘How am I going to be able to last?’”
While WTM obstacles will remain a mystery until the Saturday, organizers on the website say that obstacles at previous Tough Mudder events will pale in comparison to the trials WTM competitors will be subjected to.
“Qualifiers should expect the event to require cardiovascular stamina, brute strength, agility, dexterity, mental grit, and most of all a passion to prove oneself to be the Toughest Mudder on this good green earth.”
It is also why all competitors must sign a waiver that does not hold event organizers liable for their death.
While Tough Mudder events are all about camaraderie and helping one another face and overcome a myriad of challenges, the toughest mudder competition is decidedly less convivial.
“The obstacles are a lot more intense,” added Paterson. “Last year there was a quarter-mile of mud you had to run through, and 80-to 100-metre swims in a lake, so there’s varying degrees of things where you have to use a lot of body strength.
“Last year they had about 800 runners, and about 300 of them had hypothermia after the first lap and only 100 finished, so it’s going to be interesting.”
Patterson says he doesn’t expect to win, still the courage to compete, to run an impossible race, in abominable conditions, only the most audacious among us – the world’s toughest mudders – dare endure and hopefully survive.
For live blogging updates on World’s Toughest Mudder Saturday and Sunday go to muddernation.com.