Four local adventurers are off to the world’s toughest endurance race in November.
Mike Honeyman, Miles Chisholm, Matt Johnson and Joe Detta qualified for the World’s Toughest Mudder race after finishing with a good enough time at a race near San Francisco, California, at the end of September.
The four finished the race with a time of 2:34:12, which included an 11-1/2-mile course featuring roughly 25 obstacles such as crawling through mud pits, climbing over walls and running through fire.
That time was good enough to catapult the foursome into the world championships, which will be held in New Jersey in November, featuring the top endurance racers on the planet.
“Four dudes from Cranbrook stumbling into this thing in New Jersey with some of these athletes is going to be a little intimidating,” said Chisholm.
The course at the World’s Toughest Mudder is bigger and badder, as racers will be running a 8-1/2-mile course with 40-plus obstacles for 24 hours.
Getting to the race near San Francisco took a year of training for the four, which was a journey in itself for Honeyman, who lost 40 pounds to whip himself into shape.
Honeyman and Detta know each other from work at Arrow Installations Ltd, while Johnson and Chisholm work together at Freightliner Ltd.
The four got to know each other while going to the gym at Core Fitness, with the goal of training to get into better shape.
Chisholm and Johnson do trail running early every morning before work and they invited Detta and Honeyman out one day.
“I think before they kind of realized that it was 5:30 in the morning, they kind of committed to going for a run with us and that’s kind of how it started,” laughed Chisholm.
From there, the four decided to do an endurance race for a physical challenge and to get in some guy time.
“We started talking about doing something as guys to try and get a little guy time,” added Chisholm. “Three of the four of us are busy with kids and life and work so we wanted a bit of an adventure and this seemed like probably the best thing to do.”
They chose a Tough Mudder race near San Francisco because they could make a guy’s trip out of it and it was also the closest kind of terrain to where they train around the Cranbrook region.
“We figured we had a better chance of doing well because we’d been training on hills for quite some time now,” said Chisholm.
Honeyman is the oldest of the group and did a lot of his training with the Rocky Mountain Academy of Martial Arts, right down the road from where he works, to prepare for the race.
Even though Honeyman is in the best shape of his life, he said he wouldn’t have been able to do it without his teammates.
“There were times when I was hurting bad, but they encouraged me,” said Honeyman. “They helped me, they actually physically helped me because I was very, very sore, so for me it was an awesome experience all around.”
However, being at the race in person was a lot different from seeing pictures and video on the Internet.
“You get down there and it’s just a whole different experience,” continued Honeyman. “There are thousands of people everywhere, and there’s people being medically evacuated.
“Where we were, it was super hot, the hills were crazy, way bigger than I expected.”
The four completed the race with a time of 2:34:12, but they feel they could’ve finished a lot sooner if they hadn’t had to deal with wait times at some of the obstacles.
Their time qualified them for the World’s Toughest Mudder, which will be an endurance race that pushes athletes to the physical and mental breaking point, said Honeyman.
“Now you gotta train the mental game, it’s so much more and trying to do that for 24 hours, being dirty and cold and wet,” Honeyman said. “It’s like everything is going against you and I think the biggest factor to overcome is not so much the physical, because you’re going to get tired, no question, but the mental side of it.”
Chisholm added that he was in New York three years ago on the same weekend as the world championship race when Hurricane Ida ripped up the east coast.
The race continued, business as usual.
“They don’t cancel the race for anything,” Chisholm said. “The worse the weather is, the better.”
According to Chisholm, 1,100 racers started last year, but only 900 completed the first lap. Of those 900 racers, an additional 300 were later removed, and all but two of those 300 athletes were taken off the course because of hypothermia concerns.
“The finals that we go to, they’re expecting far less than 10 per cent to actually complete the course,” said Chisholm.