The Tougher Mudder Championship Series concluded its 4-part series in the 2018 season on September 22nd outside of Seattle in Black Diamond, WA, at the Tough Mudder Seattle event. The series’ final event—the World Championship—attracted top athletes from around the sport and winners of the Regional events. With a classic Seattle light drizzle, temperatures in the mid 60s, overcast skies, and a beautiful course through the Palmer Coking Coal Co. venue, we saw a very competitive race between Tougher Mudder rookies and veterans alike. Here’s how the final Tougher Mudder event played out:
The Tougher Mudder World Championship course featured 22 epic obstacles over a beautiful course, filled with rolling hills, narrow singletrack and open fields along the muddy 10-mile course in the lush forests outside of Seattle. A flat and wide start on fresh grass and paved roads gave the sprinters a chance to open their strides and establish an early lead. The Tough Mudder classic of Mud Mile 2.0 started the obstacle course and ensured every competitor was covered in a layer of thick black mud for the remaining 9.5 miles. The open fields gave way to dense forests filled with obstacles like Berlin Walls, Lumberjacked, and Devil’s Beard. Snaking through the gravel pits of the mine, athletes conquered Tight Squeeze—an Alpha Test feature at Seattle—and Skidmarked before heading back into the woods. The 2nd 5-mile circuit began after rolling through The Block Ness Monster, and faced another unique Seattle-only feature—Abseil. Rappelling 40’ down the iconic blackberry mountain, athletes then ran through Mud Mile 2.0 for another necessary dose of mud. Difficult features such as Cage Crawl and Just the Tip capped off Mile 8, bringing athletes up to Arctic Enema for a true test of mental grit. A final revolution through the wheels at Funky Monkey landed athletes at Happy Ending, a massive obstacle requiring both agility and timing when climbing up the front face as well as a stable core when sliding down the back.
With nearly two dozen Elite male qualifiers toeing the start line at 7:45am, the competition on the men’s side promised to be intense. Jon Albon, wearing bib #696, jumped out ahead of the pack within the first mile. A Toughest Mudder and World’s Toughest Mudder veteran, Albon’s strategy to start fast and strong was very bold, putting a target on his back for any Elite to try and catch him. Close on his heels was Ryan Woods in bib #692, and Tough Mudder Pro Team member Ryan Atkins in bib #695. By mile 3, Albon had extended his lead by only 30 seconds over Woods as they passed through Tight Squeeze. Just 60 seconds later, Mark Batres approached Tight Squeeze ahead of Atkins, who had dropped to 4th place, nearly four minutes behind Albon. However, on the 2nd lap at mile 7, Atkins was able to pass Batres at Berlin Walls, while Albon continued to increase his lead of Woods passing through Kong-Infinity by mile 8. On the final wooded stretch after Arctic Enema, Albon opened his stride and easily conquered Funky Monkey and Happy Ending, winning the men’s heat in a blistering time of 1:02:00. Woods followed suit just two minutes later, clinching the 2nd place spot, earning $2,500. Amazingly Batres surged past Atkins in the final mile and earned the final spot on the podium, denying Atkins any prize money for the day.
Here’s how the Top Men Finished:
1. Jonathan Albon — 1:02:00.0
2. Ryan Woods — 1:03:00.0
3. Mark Batres — 1:04:00.0
4. Ryan Atkins — 1:06:00.0
5. John Howell — 1:06:00.0
The competition was just as strong in the women’s heat. Over one mile into the 10-mile race, Tough Mudder Pro Team Member Allison Tai held a slight advantage over past champions Lindsay Webster, Nell Rojas, Rose Wetzel, and Rea Kolbl. For the first 5 miles all five ladies were within earshot of each other, jostling for the lead through each and every obstacle. By mile 6, Rojas pulled ahead with Wetzel close on her heels after Mud Mile 2.0. But just two miles later, Webster had the lead after successfully completing Kong-Infinity. Rojas, Wetzel, and Kolbl were all sprinting after Webster in the final approach to Funky Monkey. Staying dry through the obstacles, the final hurdle for Webster was Happy Ending; she crossed the finish line in 1:13 claiming the $10,000 prize. Rojas earned the 2nd place spot with a clean run through Funky Monkey. The fight for 3rd place was now on between Wetzel and Kolbl, who both started Funky Monkey at the same time. An uncharacteristic slip on the wheels by Kolbl sent her crashing into the water forcing an additional penalty run. Wetzel’s successful attempt propelled her on to Happy Ending and solidified her 3rd place finish, bumping Kolbl, the 2017 WTM champion off the podium.
Here’s how the Top 5 Women Finished:
1. Lindsay Webster — 1:13:00.0
2. Nell Rojas — 1:14:00.0
3. Rose Wetzel — 1:17:00.0
4. Rea Kolbl — 1:18:00.0
5. Allison Tai — 1:22:00.0
And here’s how the winners celebrated: