Mudder of All Challenges
Writer(s): Lauren Hardy
Adam Moats doesn't remember crossing the Tough Mudder finish line. After 10 miles of running and completing military-esque obstacle courses under hypothermic conditions, Moats was ready to be done-but he had one more challenge to face: electroshock therapy.
With his teammate by his side, he took a deep breath to clear his head. The two looked at each other for one last moment of reassurance and then took off.
Moats sprinted into the live wire jungle, praying to avoid the dangling 10,000-volt wires that were sprinkled throughout the field.
The finish line was getting even closer now. Eyes straight ahead, Moats barreled through the open wires with confidence. Somehow along the way however, he miscalculated his distance from one of the wires, and it whacked him right in the forehead.
"Some other wires were tangled with it and they got wrapped around my neck, causing me to fly backwards and get hit again by a 10,000-volt wire," Moats says.
Knocked out cold from the shock, Moats fell onto the muddy ground.
"I still finished, but I was pretty delirious," Moats laughs. "They gave me my Tough Mudder headband and I was so happy. That's why everyone does it, for the orange headband. It symbolizes overcoming the challenge."
Blood, sweat, tears, mud, ice baths, fire and risk of death. Since Tough Mudder's creation in 2010, that's exactly what half a million participants have endured, not to win but to merely finish the challenge.
Designed by British Special Forces, the Tough Mudder obstacle course varies depending on its location. The challenge ranges anywhere from 10 to 12 miles and contains 25 military-style obstacles-two of which are a mystery-for participants to overcome.
Although it hosted only three events in 2010, Tough Mudder's reach is now global as its popularity continues to grow at an exponential rate. This year Tough Mudder, whose proceeds support the Wounded Warrior Project, will host 29 events around the world-it plans on hosting 51 in 2013.
Jake Dietrich says the unique nature of the course is what motivated him to complete his first Tough Mudder in November 2011.
"It pushes you to your limits greater than the typical 5K or mini marathon. It's something that not only tests you physically but mentally, and I think that's the joy of it," he says. "Plus, you can't do it on your own."
Dietrich is right. Without team members, participants would not be able to get past the series of 12-foot walls, underground mud tunnels, ice-baths and muddy slopes they come in contact with.
Teamwork is so crucial to the Tough Mudder experience that competitors, or "mudders," must take a pledge before the event begins. The pledge, which contains five objectives, reads: "As a Tough Mudder, I pledge that...I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine-kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course. I overcome all fears."
"Everybody really abides by the pledge," Dietrich says. "If you see someone struggling everyone is going to help that person out. It's really all about getting a group of people together and working toward that common goal."
That's the idea behind Tough Mudder: to finish, to have a story to tell and to work with others as you challenge yourself.
Even after all of the adversities they faced-frozen legs, collapsed lungs, bruises, gashes and other ailments-both Moats and Dietrich plan to compete in future challenges as they continue to push their limits-something both see as being an important aspect of life.
"If you quit challenging yourself, you're just going to think that you're already set and don't have to better yourself, but there is always something to rise above," Moats says.