Junyong Pak proved that winning the World’s Toughest Mudder championship last year was no fluke by going out and doing in again. The 34-year-old Beverly resident won the 24-hour nonstop endurance event last month at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Any tough mudder competition is not for the faint of heart. It requires mental and physical toughness along with stamina, strength and fitness under extremely challenging conditions. The 100-mile course over 30 military-style obstacles at Englishtown was designed by British Special Forces to test even the most superbly conditioned athlete.
When he won the inaugural event a year ago, Pak took home $10,000, but this time the prize money was increased to $15,000.
“If you’re in it just to win the money, I can assure you it is not worth it,” said Pak, who is a mechanical engineer. “There are a lot more easy ways to make that money. The first time I did World’s, it was all about the unknown. I really didn’t know what to expect even though I had done a couple of shorter Tough Mudder events.
“The temperature dropped to 22 degrees, and the obstacles froze over, which made things even more difficult. This year, it was more about the competition because of the increased awareness of the sport.”
Pak said there were around 800 people starting in 2011, and the number grew to more than 1,100 this time. Because he had won the previous championship, he had a target on his back.
“Everybody was gunning for me,” Pak said. “There were some really tough, fast competitors, but nobody was really able to put it all together. It turned into a war of attrition, and I managed to survive. There were three of us in the front pack, and right from the start, it was a foot race. I knew that pace couldn’t last. That’s not the way you want to start such a long journey, and my strategy was to put the competition behind me.”