2017 was the last year that WTM was held at Las Vegas. The Kong Infinity had the greatest promise for being THE obstacle of the year, and, of course, we saw it resurface as Tough Mudder announced their 2018 obstacle line-up. There is always that one obstacle that truly stands out. Remember the first time the King of Swingers was introduced? It was all people talked about.
It will be difficult to beat the vibe of this venue – it’s Burning Man meets obstacle race. We could use a bit more neon lighting and glow in the dark paint, but otherwise, the parallel holds.
When I found out that I was going to be in Vegas on WTM weekend – running Rock’N’Roll Half Marathon on the strip with one of my best friends, I flew in a day early, just so I could swing by the race venue for few hours, and check out the course.
While most obstacles were still closed when I was there, I walked the entire course at least once, carefully skirting the ribbons, and staying off the actual course. Here are few moments that stood out:
MOMENT #1 – HEAT AT THE START
That start was HOT. Siri seems to think that it’s +23C, but there is no fucking way. It’s gotta be at least ten degrees more than that . Fifteen minutes into the race, the red faces of racers beg to differ. Beads of sweat roll down the shaved heads, racers’ shoulders start to glisten. They haven’t even started running yet. The heat is beating down the backs of my thighs. My butt is sizzling. Yet… as soon as you step into the shade of anything – coolness sets in. The sun is hot, the ground is cold. We are in a desert.
MOMENT #2 – ALL ALONE
The last runner out of the starting corral hobbles on one prosthetic leg, wearing a bejewelled bib. Everyone cheers, yells and claps. Only twenty minutes later, I spot him on course – all alone, and seemingly… all forgotten.
MOMENT #3 – THE DUST
Things got dusty. At the start, many racers wore bandanas over their face. Imagine hundreds of people wearing spandex, sunglasses and bandanas over their face. Add orange smoke. Either a strange kink party, or a massive bank robbery, amirite?
MOMENT #4 – LIKE THE WIND
I watch the lead runner cross the finish line for the first time in twenty three minutes and a bit. He won’t keep this pace for long, but five miles in a dusty desert at 4:45 pace? Hats off. No, wait, it’s too hot. Well, kudos, anyway!
MOMENT #5 – HIGH FIVES
Amelia Boone high fives runners on course. One, two, five. Dozens of high fives. Hundreds?
Every single one appreciates that brief acknowledgement, that reminder: “You rock!”.
MOMENT #6 – THAT GUY
I see bibs over nude torsos, and bibs over full length compression gear. I spot animal print ranger panties. Birthday tiara. Face paint.
One dude made my day, running in speedos with bright flowers on them. If you took both of my quads and put them together, you would maybe get the size of each of this quads. Oh, and I do NOT have small quads. A friend later helpfully pointed out that I had the pleasure of watching Sam Dancer prance through the desert – a high level Crossfitter. Figures. I bet he was not too pleased about obstacles NOT being open for four hours.
MOMENT #7 – OVERHEARD
Conversation overheard between two racers, while running: “I have only done one GORUCK, and I gotta tell you… I am NOT their target audience. I don’t really like pushing my limits”.
MOMENT #8 – NOBODY
As Ryan Atkins runs in from his lap #841. I notice that the back of his bib says “Nobody”. Adorable.
What were your favorite moments from WTM2017, or any other year? What are some stories, scenes, snapshots that stick out in memory?