August 25, 2018
Boulder’s Nell Rojas won the 2018 Chicago “Tough Mudder” race last weekend in her first attempt at the grueling event. The Chicago race, one of a national series, was contested in Rockville, IL on August 25th.
Mudder race courses incorporate standard boot-camp high walls, deep mud-pits, and barbed-wire under-crawls, but add “innovative obstacles” such as the “Block Ness Monster,” the “Arctic Enema,” and the “Everest,” all deliberately designed to challenge even the best of athletes.
Rojas, a competitive runner and triathlete, had no experience with Mudders, but was encouraged to compete by her Boulder training partners, Spartan Racers Nicole Mericlele and Dylan Miraglia.
“I dug myself into a hole almost from the beginning,” said Rojas of the early going. “It took me five minutes to get over the first Everest barrier,” she lamented. “I ran at it several times but couldn’t hold onto the rope. Two guys were finally able to grab my arms and legs and pull me over!”
In the meantime, the early leader, Rose Wetzel, easily cleared Everest, and took off down the course, gapping Rojas by several minutes.
“I figured Rose was long gone,” recalled Rojas. “But, after I cleared Everest, I just kept running hard and plugging away at the barriers. I saw her ‘coming back’ to me six miles later and I finally caught her. We ran together for a while, but I was feeling good and yelled to her, ‘Rose, I have to go!”
Rojas opened-up a 3-minute gap over Wetzel in the latter stages of the race and won in 1:31.23. Wetzel’s time was 1:34.11.
“It was really fun, but I failed all of the ‘grip strength’ obstacles and actually had to run some penalty laps during the race,” explained Rojas. “I definitely need a lot more grip strength to be competitive!” Rojas collected $2,500 for her winning effort.
Rojas plans to compete at the Tough Mudder Seattle on September 22nd .