Europe’s Toughest Mudder

Europe’s Toughest Mudder is a 12 hour through-the-night endurance race. Starting at 8pm and finishes at 8am the following morning. Each participant has 12 hours to complete as many 10 km laps as possible.

Countdown to Europe’s Toughest Mudder

Setting up your pitstop area
Setup your tent as near as possible to the race line. If you’re planning to get as many laps as you can within the 12-hour time limit, you need to be quick between pitstops.

For example, you if spend 20 minutes in the pitstop after each lap, you’re eating into the allocated time that you could be spending on the course. The OCR racers that are looking to reach 50+ miles, will be in and out of the pitstop between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It’s most likely the professional OCR racers will have a team of dedicated crew members to minimise time in the pit.

Europe's Toughest Mudder 2022
Above: James King at the finish line with 50km, on Sunday morning at 7:53am.

If you’re running Europe’s Toughest Mudder alone and without a pit crew, you need to be super organised.

Europe’s Toughest Mudder Tips to speed your pitstop times:

1) Make your tent or pitstop area highly recognisable.
Use a flag to decorate your tent or use a variety of glowsticks. Whatever it takes to make your tent or pit area noticeable for you. Bear in mind throughout the night, you’re going to be mentally and physically tested. By making your pit area easily noticeable to you will make your life easier, especially during the darkest hours of the night. Ideally, you want your tent as close as possible to the start line.

 2) Before the start of the race, make sure that you have everything you need between laps is easily accessible.
If you’re using a tent that has a porch, include your bottled drinks and nutrition in a flexi-bucket. This will make things easier to grab on your way out.

3) Have a variety of nutritional items available between each lap.
Throughout the night, your emotional state will change and your desire to eat something different may help to lift your mood. Your body is going to burn a tremendous number of calories and you may crave more sugary or salty items. Some endurance runners will snack on a variety of items throughout the night. Ranging from a slice of pizza, donuts, flapjacks and protein bars.

Personal favourites include Lucozade Sport, Krispy Krème Doughnuts, Trek peanut butter protein bars, flapjacks, jelly babies and Haribo sweets.

Every endurance runner is different. It’s vitally important to only eat tried and tested foods that you know your body will absorb and not upset your system. Everybody’s digestive tract is different. Certain foods under prolonged periods of running will move through the colon more rapidly, resulting in runner’s trots. This embarrassing and urgent need to go to the toilet can break your race. Please stick to the foods that you know.

Before the 2019 edition of Europe’s Toughest Mudder, there were first time participants filling up on MacDonalds and Burger King meals, four hours before the biggest event of their lives. This is a major mistake. As four or five hours into the event, those participants were running to the toilet and this occurrence has most likely ruined their race experience.

On the day of the event, you should only have a smaller amount of food. A peanut butter and banana bagel is good option. As mentioned above only eat “tried and tested” foods that won’t upset you on race day.

Carb Loading “Days” Before Europe’s Toughest Mudder

For the 7 to 10 days leading up to Europe’s Toughest Mudder, you should be carb loading. My go to meal for “carb loading” is always a roast dinner.  Smashing in the carveries can be difficult. However, you need to build up the glycogen stores. Around 18 hours before the event, I will have one final big meal. Most likely another carvery.

Then, the morning and afternoon of the event, I will stick to peanut butter and banana bagels.  The goal is to make sure there’s little as possible in the digestive tract. When it comes to long distance running, the impact on the body is going to help food move faster through the digestive tract.

4) Grab your food and nutritional item and take with you as you start the next lap.
Sitting down and staying near your tent can lead into the temptation of giving up. Roughly around 30% of Toughest Mudder competitors will struggle and give up around 2am onwards.  If you want to last the full 12 hours, you need to keep moving.

90 minutes to 60 minutes before the race: warm up!
You’re going to competing for 12 full hours. It’s vital to get limber and fully warmed up.

Spend a good amount of time stretching, loosening up and getting yourself mentally focused. There’s around a 10-minute  to 15-minute warm up before the start of the race. However, it’s highly recommended that you start your routine much earlier. To succeed in this race, you want to avoid cramp and injuries at all costs. It’s essential to warm up properly.

The start of Europe’s Toughest Mudder

The Sprint Lap: A good opportunity understand the course & find opportunities to run faster on consecutive laps

At the start of the event is a sprint lap – this is your warmup lap. There is a minimum number of obstacles open; the obstacles that make up the terrain such as mud mile and occasionally the hero walls. A sprint lap is an excellent time to absorb the terrain and the surroundings. As this lap is done when it is still daylight, it is easier to make mental notes of certain terrain features. For example, at Belvoir Castle there are steady inclines going through the woodlands. Then, half a mile later an opportunity to run faster as you can run downhill. A good opportunity to get speed up with less energy needed and shave off time on each lap. As the night progresses, your physical stamina and mental endurance is going to be tested. If you can find ways to run the course more efficiently, this will serve you well later through the race.

After you have completed the sprint lap, you can go to your pit crew, refuel, hydrate and get into different clothing.

Top Tip: As Europe’s Toughest Mudder is now in the warmer months, it’s up to you if you use a wetsuit. However, you need clothing that’s quick drying and non-cotton material.

Below: Arctic Enema without a wet suit in May 2019. You can see that I’m cold to the bones. (You can see the outline of my skull).  Fortunately, ETM has moved to warmer months, in theory, it shouldn’t be as cold. In reality, the night temperatures can still be low. It’s highly recommended to check the weather forecast before the event.

After the sprint lap, a variety of obstacles will open at random. Artic Enema is one of the toughest obstacles on the Tough Mudder Classic course. At Toughest Mudder, you could be jumping in Artic Enema at 11pm, midnight, 2am or 3am. On this event to avoid cramp or injury you want to get into alternative clothing after the sprint lap. Artic Enema is a mandatory obstacle if you fail to do this challenge, you are out the race and disqualified.

Wearing a wetsuit for an Artic Enema is like body armour – you will avoid injury and not shiver when you get out of cold wet clothing. (That said, a wet suit can restrict movement on obstacles like hero walls. Therefore, it’s best to find OCR clothing that’s best for you).

Again, this is a night race, and the temperature overnight can reduce depending on the time of year. Europe’s Toughest Mudder back in May 2019, the temperature got down to 4 degrees Celsius (39.20 °F). Be mindful that you are in the elements at night and the conditions vastly different than doing a Tough Mudder during the day. That said, from 2021 onwards Europe’s Toughest Mudder has been in set in the warmer months.

Below: Arctic Enema in September, 2022. Despite my reaction, the temperature in a wetsuit is much easier to contend with. (From memory ETM in 2022, was in September and it was chilly night).

Artic Enema ETM 2022


 
Europe’s Toughest Mudder Tip: Invest in decent running gear (that removes excess water and allows you to move without restricting body movement). Then, do a dress rehearsal run in your OCR event gear.

As an OCR Racer, you want to ensure that you train for the environment you’re going to compete in. If you’re fortunate enough to live near the beach, a wetsuit is a great place to train. Equally, you want to ensure that the running gear you are using has some flexibility. For instance, for climbing up Hero Walls and getting up and other obstacles such as Mudderhorn.

Help other Competitors

Although Europe’s Toughest Mudder is a competitive race, throughout the event it’s good sportsmanship to help others over certain obstacles. After multiple laps, it’s going to take a lot of mental grit and determination to get over certain obstacles such as Hero Walls or Everest. Equally, you may need some help getting over the same obstacle. Teamwork in this competitive race is key.

Europe’s Toughest Mudder Obstacles

Hero Walls
Standing at 9″ tall this obstacle is a challenging effort even for the most experienced competitor. If you’re taller than more or have an impressive vertical leaping ability this will work in your favour. However, after several hours on the course no doubt your upper body strength will wane. If possible, try and look for inconsistencies in the wall where you can gain some footing. Equally, if you’re struggling you may need to wait for other competitors to help you over.

Everest
This half-pipe themed obstacle requires courage, determination, and the speed to reach the top. You’ll notice when you reach Everest, there’s some metal barriers. This is where most competitors start sprinting from. If you want to make sure you’ll reach the top of the obstacle, it’s best to give yourself even more distance. So that, you get plenty of momentum to get to the very top of the half pipe. When you’re close to the top use your upper body strength and pull yourself over the ledge.

Statue of Liberty
On this obstacle you’ll walk through shallow muddy water and carry a flaming torch. If the flame goes out, you need to start the obstacle again. This obstacle is only available on the Toughest Mudder Series including Europe’s Toughest Mudder & World’s Toughest Mudder.

Funky Monkey
To succeed at Funky Monkey you need upper body strength, momentum and the focus on moving forwards. Monkey bars and rotating wheels are hung over water that’s over 6 ft deep.
To train for Funky Monkey get used to do monkey bars whether that’s outside or in the gym. At Tough Mudder, scaffolding poles are used, and they are easier to grip and hold on to.
Although monkey bars have a thinner diameter, you’ll find grabbing on to scaffolding bars much easier when you’re on the course.

Block Ness Monster
Block Ness Monster

Above: Block Ness Monster. Taken during a day Tough Mudder event back in 2018.

Block Ness Monster is fun and requires team work. At Toughest Mudder, this obstacle is best tackled with a group of mudders. During the night, you may need to wait for others to help you overcome this obstacle. You’re in water and you’re faced with giant rotating blocks. The objective is to get across each rotating block.

How to keep going during Europe’s Toughest Mudder?

Roughly, between 2am to 5am, a good number of participants will drop out of the race and stay in their tents. To gain the most mileage at Europe’s Toughest Mudder, you must continue to run throughout the night. During the darkest hours of the night, you may not see runners for a good few hours. As a result, those that push through the night are more likely to gain the most miles. This is a mental challenge above all else. 

Which locations has Europe’s Toughest Mudder been held at? 

Since 2017 to 2021, Europe’s Toughest Mudder has been held at Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, Lincolnshire. In 2022, the event was held at Cholmondeley Castle, Malpas, Cheshire. 

Europe’s Toughest Mudder 2023

For 2023, Europe’s Toughest Mudder will return to its place birth of at Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Lincolnshire. The event will be held on Saturday 24th June to Sunday 25th June. 

Who Takes Part in Europe’s Toughest Mudder?

Runners and OCR racers from varied backgrounds take part in the overnight event. You’ll expect to encounter experienced trial runners and individuals with military experience. However, the majority of competitors are not elite athletes and may have a sedentary work life. That said, most of the Toughest Mudder competitors are looking for a bigger challenge and taking their mud run experience to the next level. 

Who is declared the winner at Europe’s Toughest Mudder?

The objective is to complete as many 10km (6.2 miles) within 12 hours. The competitor that does the most 10km laps, in their entirety, is the winner.

Europe’s Toughest Mudder Results: Can these be seen in real-time?

On the night of the event, there is a live results table that’s available to view online. 

Europe's Toughest Mudder 2021
Above: James King on his last lap of Europe’s Toughest Mudder in August 2021 at 5:56am.

Links to previous Europe’s Toughest Mudder Results

Europe's Toughest Mudder Map 2022

Europe's Toughest Mudder 2021

James King has competed in multiple OCR events including Europe's Toughest Mudder from 2019 to 2022, multiple mud events, 10k runs and currently for his first marathon. James includes useful tips and experiences about OCR on his blog mudrunlifestyle.com.