Tell me about the details of the obstacles. What was the hardest part?

The most difficult part of the course was, without a doubt, the temperature, something the race planners hadnʼt really planned on.

[The day before the race, it] was 65 degrees outside with a sunny sky. [The] next morning, the temperature had dropped to 29 degrees. I made the wrong assumption that it would get warmer within a couple hours. By the time we started the race, [the] temperature was still hanging right around 30 degrees with a cloudy sky.

So I ended up running the race in nothing more than running shoes and black shorts. You get soaking wet on the very first obstacle and although you have plenty of hills to warm your muscles up on you never really do.

About 2.5 miles into the race, you are already half frozen, and you have to dive into an obstacle full of ice-water swimming under a hurdle placed in the middle. It literally took my breath away and made the next 20-30 minutes agonizing. And of course by the time you start to warm up even a little, you jump right back into a lake or you get sprayed with snowmakers on all sides of you.

I will never forget jumping out of a lake and trail running up hill through a pine grove and seeing wind blown frost on the rocks and trees all around me!

Victory! Photo By: Glenn Harper

Youʼre a Navy EOD tech, a job with pretty high physical fitness standards, did you train specifically for this event or, in the weeks leading up to the event, did you just do your normal routine and training?

I am constantly training hard and utilizing races with varying athletic disciplines as a gauge to test both my overall fitness level against myself and against others. [I] believe that an endurance base is the key to anyoneʼs physical fitness level.

I saw on the Tough Mudder website that the biggest challenge most people faced during the race was the elevation changes: Most people are not used to or prepared for running up hill.

I kept my weekly training the same but added in a 13-mile mountain run with approximately 1,500 to 2,000 feet of steep hills every Sunday. I was able to do about six of these prior to the event, and it gave me a huge advantage against others.

You ran the event with two other EOD techs, is that correct? Were there a lot of other military members there? If yes why do you think folks in the military like these extra physical challenges?

I actually came to the event with three Navy EOD Techs that all did an outstanding job on the race. One of them (who did the Sunday mountain runs with me prior to the race) finished 8th overall!

There were thousands of military service members at this event. Like me, all of these personnel are constantly training and looking for a real challenge outside the constraints of the military. The Tough Mudder is a great place to challenge a military service member against both their training and civilians.

Breathing Fire. Photo By: Betsssssy

You won the race! First place out of 10,000 participants is really impressive. When did you realize that you were winning?

I had actually told my girlfriend 3 months before the race that I was going to win it–more as a joke than anything else. I’m an extremely competitive person and knew that I could not lose this race!

After the first mile, I looked down at my watch and saw my time at 5:55…and this was with hills. I knew that if I kept a good strong pace and got to a point where the people behind me couldnʼt see me anymore, then they would have nothing to strive for.

I achieved this after Mile 3 and was able to comfortably push myself against the course and the cold.

The Tough Mudder advertises itself as “probably the toughest race on the planet,” I thought the Death Race was the toughest. Do you have any interest in running it?

I looked it up and would love to run it. There are a number of other races that I’m looking into such as Primal Quest: 7 day adventure races in excess of 400-500 miles, although I would probably have to train almost full-time for these kind of races.

I did receive an invitation to the World Toughest Mudder, but unfortunately I will be deployed to Afghanistan at the time of the race and will have to do another Tough Mudder next year to qualify for the 2012 [one].