Tough Mudder

by

By: Nathan Shearer
Head Wrestling Coach

Over the weekend a few friends and I took part in a challenge course located in the Wintergreen Ski resort here in Virginia. The competition was titled Tough Mudder. Signing up for this event six months prior was the easy thing to do. As the summer came to an end friends started circulating YouTube clips of different obstacles in the event. Names like: Death March, Chernobyl Jacuzzi, Electric Shock Therapy, Berlin Walls, Underwater Tunnel, and Kiss of Mud to name a few. The entire course projected itself ten miles into the ski resort and surrounding areas and totaled 27 obstacles. It was interesting watching online videos of people soaking themselves in homemade ice baths and building construction projects in their backyards to simulate events. We used the surrounding terrain and did our best to ready ourselves.

The Tough Mudder was no joke!

On race day we arrived at 9:00 am to a spectacular event. The business model was developed by former Harvard Business graduates and the course designed by a group of former British Special Forces members. The total number of participants exceeded 9,000 people. The registration line welcomed us to the event with branding our race number with permanent marker to our foreheads. Next, a tent waited for participants to have their heads shaved or trimmed into a mullet. This line was optional, but many took advantage of the free service. The following station provided free tattoos in exchange for a free entry to any future event. Hopefully no one took this offer, especially with the low entry cost. It was not the distance or obstacles that worried me about this race. I was hoping I did not sign up for an event that was barbaric in nature and without a real cause or sense of purpose. I did research the event, but began to think it was not all adding up. Thankfully all this was about to change.

Every 20 minutes a group of several hundred people started the race. An emcee diligently reminded the crowd of several key fundamentals. Most importantly, our actual completion time was irrelevant. They did not even record our finish time. Instead team work and camaraderie were the reasons we all were here. The siren fired and the chaos began. The rest of that afternoon was spent with hundreds of people working as a group and team to finish the course. As individuals completed climbing walls, shimmying through tunnels, and long inclined hikes their attention was turned to those behind them. As you slipped, fell, or struggled support was instantly provided by fellow tough mudders. At each obstacle large spectator groups cheered and encouraged everyone. It was a remarkable display of team building that made completing the event gave everyone a sense of pride.

At the end of the day things made more sense. First, the event was professionally constructed to require unity and teamwork to achieve completion. Second, Tough Mudder raised nearly $3 Million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. Lastly, crossing the finish line each person was handed a bright orange headband as they declared Monday is “wear your headband to work day”.

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