Locals conquer toughest ‘mudder’ course
Four local fitness enthusiasts tested their strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie earlier this month as they participated in what they called the toughest “Tough Mudder” event, located at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colo.
Terry McMahon, Matt Sweigard, Jason Sobkowicz, and Tanya Hughes battled through a 12-mile course and 23 different obstacles in one of the most challenging events on the planet—giving them the opportunity to test themselves in every way.
“Just accomplishing it and crossing the finish line was huge.
“The endorphins were just quite high,” she added.
McMahon, Sweigard, and Sobkowicz were members of a team that participated in a “Tough Mudder” event in Wisconsin last summer.
“After we did last year’s, we realized it was an incredible event,” noted Sobkowicz.
“And once you do something, you kind of want to push the envelope and do something a little more difficult,” he added, saying they knew the Colorado event took place high up in the Rockies, where they would have to contend with altitude and terrain that was more difficult than in Wisconsin.
The climate and temperatures also were significantly different from last year. The mid-July event in Wisconsin was hot while up in the Rocky Mountains, it was cold and windy, McMahon noted.
“We were right when we decided to go there that it was going to be a lot more difficult,” said Sobkowicz. “There is no comparison between Wisconsin and Colorado.
“The Colorado event was about as challenging as an event can get,” he stressed.
To put things into perspective, Sobkowicz said the first nine miles of the event was all uphill, with the last three miles of the race headed downhill—all while encountering an array of difficult obstacles.
Starting with the “Braveheart Charge,” mudders charged into battle calling out war cries, then headed up a 40-foot cliff of slippery mud angled at 45 degrees.
The next obstacle, called “Devil’s Beard,” had participants continue their uphill climb while passing underneath a cargo net fastened to the ground.
Others included “Arctic Enema,” a frigid ice bath the mudders had to swim through before becoming hypothermic, “Boa Constrictor,” a series of pipes participants crawl through which forces them downhill into some freezing mud, and “Electroshock Therapy,” where teams sprint through a field of live wires—some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock.
“There was electroshock therapy throughout the course three times,” Sobkowicz noted.
“You don’t know which wires are live.”
The four locals got together on a weekly basis to train for the event, doing hill sprints and strength training.
“The whole premise behind ‘Tough Mudder’ is that it’s all about teamwork, so the team sticks together for the duration of the race,” explained Sobkowicz.
While some participants are all about speed, he said for the most part, people are there to put in a good team effort and to get your team across the finish line as a whole.
“It’s an adventure challenge series,” he remarked, saying about 30-40 percent, on average, do not complete the event.
“It’s a lot easier to be physically active if you have a goal, if you have something you are preparing for, that you look forward to doing,” Sobkowicz reasoned.
“This is just sort of a progression . . . you want to do something more challenging and a little less mundane.”
“I just like testing the physical limits of my body,” echoed Sweigard. “We’re always looking for a new challenge.”
Sobkowicz said he sees the “Tough Mudder” event “like being a kid again.”
“It’s this giant obstacle course where you are getting dirty and muddy and splashing in puddles at the same time you are very physically and mentally challenged,” he noted.
“But it’s fun the entire time.
“Yes, you’re exhausted and your legs hurt, but when you look around, everyone is enjoying themselves.
“There’s just an allure about the event that draws you in,” he added.
Sobkowicz stressed the team was really impressed with the sense of camaraderie they experienced.
“There’s no prejudice. There’s no social barriers,” he noted. “Everybody is there for the same goal.
“Everybody just acts like they are just best friends,” he recalled. “Everybody helps everybody through the course.
“A stranger will put out their arm and help you up onto an obstacle, and then they take off and you stand up at the top of the obstacle to help people up that you don’t know.
“And they are from all walks of life and every different culture.
“It’s quite an incredible feeling to be part of that,” Sobkowicz enthused.
The local team was proud of themselves for completing the course, which took them a total of four hours.
“It really gives you a sense of accomplishment,” McMahon said.
“The confidence boost you get from it is just incredible,” agreed Hughes.
The team plans to continue with “Tough Mudder” events, possibly participating in one in Canada next year. And they’d like to get more local people involved.
Hughes especially would like to see more females sign up.
“It’s really worth trying out,” McMahon urged.
Hughes even encourages physically fit people to look for other events outside the district.
“And to try to get the community to support people in going to compete elsewhere,” she added.
“Even though it’s not happening here in Fort Frances, we can still provide a support network for people who are going out-of-town for whatever event they are in.
“And when we are there, just knowing there are people back home thinking about us and cheering us on,” she reasoned.
“Tough Mudder” takes place across the globe—in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
The events also have raised more than $3 million for the “Wounded Warrior” project.
Those interested in joining a local team for a “Tough Mudder” event are encouraged to look up any of the team members on Facebook.