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One Tough Mudder

Wine is great and all, but sometimes it is good to go out of your comfort zone and try something different.

A Tough Mudder is basically a 10-12 miles endurance event through mud with obstacles designed by British special forces. After having had participated in two of them earlier this year, I managed to convince eight of my coworkers to join me in running the next and nearest Tough Mudder at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. Together we comprised over 10% of Lot18’s total employees.

On the day of the event, my coworkers and a few non-work friends all showed up at Raceway Park. Despite the 40 minute shuttle bus ride that most of us had to take, we all managed to show up on time. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was a sunny day with a high of 72 degrees F, and there was barely a cloud in sight. Considering that our first obstacle was jumping into and fully submerging ourselves in a dumpster full of ice, this was a relief to everyone on our team.

Once we took our pre-race ‘before’ photo, we made our way to the start by scaling an 8’ wall. Keep in mind the race has not even started yet—we had to scale the wall just to get into the starting corral. For the next 10-15 minutes we waited in the holding pen where we were greeted by the Tough Mudder MC. If you were nervous going into the holding pen, which I think was the case for most people, you feel like you can rule the world when you leave after some of the most motivational words at one of the best possible times. He talked about a wounded veteran that was in a wheelchair who started earlier that day. We later crossed paths with him as his teammates were carrying him through one of the obstacles. At that moment everyone else around stopped what they were doing and took a moment to applaud his bravery. It was truly an inspiring moment that I will never forget.

We then took a moment to honor our members of the armed services, several were competing with us. Tough Mudder donates a portion of its proceeds to The Wounded Warrior Project. To date they have raised close to 4 million dollars for the charity. It’s at that moment when you realize how much bigger this whole thing is. You’re not just completing the course for yourself. You’re doing it for your team, for the men and women of the armed forces and for others that can’t. At that point any ideas you might have had of quitting are wiped from your mind completely. You know, that with the help of your team and the other mudders, you can and will complete the course.

Next, we were directed to look at the American Flag as they played the National Anthem. Then we counted down 10 … 9 … 8 … 7 … 6 … 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1, and we were off, chasing a monster truck down a racetrack.

Nothing about the Tough Mudder is comfortable. It’s designed to push you to the limit and make you face your fears head on. I don’t think anyone enjoys jumping into ice water or being electrocuted or being a link in a human chain as people walk over you to pull themselves up a steep, slippery, muddy hill. Nobody truly likes crawling on rocks, under barbed wire as their knees and elbows get cut and scraped. It’s not fun getting mud in your eyes and not being able to wipe it out because every inch of your body is covered in even more mud.

Even though none of this is enjoyable, somehow in the end, all of it together is incredibly fun. I don’t know if its the people you’re with that make the experience or the impressive demonstrations of teamwork, camaraderie and bravery, but it’s a powerful thing.

Some 5 hours after we started all as a team, we stopped before the last obstacle which is called ‘Electroshock Therapy’ (yes, it is as frightening as its name suggests). We huddled up and let out a highly unorganized cheer of “HOO-RAH!” or “GO TEAM!” or “LOT18!” But being disorganized didn’t matter because we all knew that we had stayed together throughout, pushed ourselves to the limits and help each other do something great. Next, we lined up and took turns running through live wires and across the finish line.

We posed for our post-race photos, all covered in mud, and cheers-ed each other with our well deserved complimentary beer. Beer has never tasted so good! And with that we were done. After you endure an experience like the Tough Mudder with coworkers and friends it creates a stronger bond between you all. Soon the cuts and scrapes will heal, the muscle soreness will subside and all physical reminders will be gone. However, the memories will last you a lifetime-- and when you reflect on that, you know you can do anything you set your mind to.

Photos by Salvatore Dziekan