NEW ULM -While most runner enthusiasts enjoy a simple 5k run on occasions, two New Ulm residents are getting pumped for a 24-hour world championship race based off British Special Forces training.
The Tough Mudder obstacle races are 10 to 12 mile courses that mix in obstacles like crawling under 10,000 volt wires, jumping straighter over tall walls and crawling through claustrophobically tight walls. The races are qualifiers held in countries all over the world for the World's Toughest Mudder race. The top 5 percent of each qualifier are selected to advance to the championship.
New Ulm residents Duane Oftedahl and Jamie Brandt were selected in the Twin Cities qualifier to advance to the world championship.
Duane Oftedahl (left) with other racers
Oftedahl, who has served as combat medic, said the his high intensity interest in competitions naturally drew him to the grueling race. He said he's been running are 5ks and Warrior Runs for years, and found they weren't challenging enough.
"Because of my military background, I just eat it up [when I heard about Tough Mudder races]," said Oftedahl, "I thought this is something more my style.
He said the qualifier itself was intense. He explained that a portion of the running path was created by just bulldozing through a forest, leaving the path littered with debris to jump over. He said he was able to handle endurance aspect due to his physical fitness, completing the qualifier in 97 minutes. However, he said the 30 cuts from jutting shrubbery and impact of hitting a 10,000 volt wire made it very difficult.
"At one part, I hit one while jumping over a hay bale. It was like a linebacker tackled me mid-air and slammed me to the ground," said Oftedahl.
He said he's very excited to be competing in the world championship, but he's wary of how difficult it will be.
"It's intense. It's completely different competition than the qualifiers," said Oftedahl.
The World's Toughest Muddder itself is held in Englishtown, New Jersey. It's a 24 hour straight race on 12 mile looped Tough Mudder track that features 30 obstacles. While some of the obstacles will be from the qualifiers, the majority are kept secret until two days before the Nov. 17 and 18 event. Runners have to continuously race for the entire time without quitting or being disqualified for medical reason to be listed as "finisher." The winner will determined by who completed the most laps. The 2011 winner from Japan won by completing 6 laps. Prizes this year will be $15,000 to the top male and female runners, and $20,000 to the top team winners.
Oftedahl said he's been training two times a day, every day to get into the best shape for the competition. He said his workout schedule consists of a three to four mile run when he wakes up, followed by an intense 10 to 12 mile run in the evening. He said he punctuates his evening run by stopping each mile to do an intense muscle workout, like push-up, until he's exhausted. He then runs the next mile and repeats.
"It takes a lot of focus. You have to be fit to both run and repeatedly do the obstacles," said Oftedahl.
He said he's focused and dead set on finishing high in the competition. He plans to travel to the track two days ahead of time, so that he can walk the track.
"It's exciting. How often do you get to compete in a world championship for anything?" said Oftedahl.
More information on the events can be seen at toughmudder.com
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.