Hunter McIntyre always loved sports, but it wasn’t until he discovered Spartan Race in 2011 that he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a professional at obstacle course racing (OCR). The 29-year-old is now the reigning Tough Mudder X champion who will defend his title on Saturday during the Tough Mudder World Championship, which airs on CBS at 1 p.m. EST and is presented by Kill Cliff.
Metro caught up with Hunter McIntyre, who unveiled his favorite part of the one-mile Tough Mudder course, his training regime and two of his most-shocking food habits.
8 burning questions for Tough Mudder X champ Hunter McIntyre
Metro: Did you like to play in the mud as a kid?
Hunter McIntyre: (laughs) No, I didn’t like to play in the mud as a kid. Everyone calls them mud runs, that’s the fun name for it, but the races that we do, whether it’s the Tough Mudder or Spartan, they’re very challenging and engaging and a lot of fun.
What’s your favorite — and least favorite — parts of the one-mile Tough Mudder X course?
I absolutely hate barbed wire, but I’m a big fan of anything that is heavy and challenging to pick up, flipping a big tire, picking up a big sandbag, overcoming a heavy obstacle you have to lift up or climb up. The sport is both skill-based and brute-strength based, and I love it.
How many shoes would you say you go through during a competing season?
It’s terrible, I’m like a total diva. I have a whole outdoor closet that has about 30 or 40 pairs of shoes. I probably get rid of about five to 10 pairs every year — but I wear five different pairs of shoes a week.
I’ve got pairs I use for the gym, for outdoor gym workouts, for running, for trail running and I have my race shoes, which are very light, but they only last two or three races. I use Nike for training, and for most road racing, I use New Balance. For outdoor stuff, I use Merrell.
What’s your training regime leading up to the Tough Mudder X finals?
I go to training camps in the mountains every spring for about eight to 12 weeks to get altitude training, and I usually buckle down and don’t do anything but workout, eat food, play video games and go to bed early.
Tell me about your diet.
I eat probably about 1,500 to 2,000 calories worth of pancakes a day, that’s just easy and delicious. I eat a lot of Honey Nut Cheerios, a lot of yogurt and a lot of steak. The most important thing is to eat foods that are easily digested and good for you to get ready for the next workout.
I almost never eat vegetables. I see people always eating salads and stuff, and I’ve never seen anybody do anything badass because they ate a salad.
Do you ever wake up and say, “I don’t wanna today?”
I don’t ever stay in bed, but there’s definitely days I wake up and know there’s no way I’m going to hit the numbers I want to today, so I’ll just trade it out for a hike or a swim or a rock climb. I usually take one day off fully each week so I’m supercharged by the time I get to the gym the next day.
With tens of thousands of fans, what’s been most surprising to you about being in the public eye?
It’s interesting to see what really resonates. I can post something funny, like me eating a bug, and it gets lots of comments and likes. But I posted a picture of me with a sort-of transformation to stop running so much and lift a lot more weights to get ready for a couple events. I posted that I got a lot slower, and it got more engagement than I’d ever gotten in my entire life.
And finally, what is something unhealthy you do that might surprise people?
I eat probably 300 to 400 grams of sugar a day. I don’t eat, like, spoonfuls of sugar, but right after a workout, I’ll have a Snapple or a FitAid — they’re not bad sugars if you work hard. I’ll eat ice cream at nighttime to get my calories in. I eat a whole jar of honey a week, a big one, I’m drinking maple syrup constantly. I definitely look leaner the more sugar I eat. Most doctors would yell at me, but it’s the truth.