It’s an event that’s appropriately named.
The Tough Mudder, which can best be described as a grueling 11-mile obstacle course full of mud and many other challenges, recently came to Missouri.
The event’s website, www.toughmudder.com, described it as “probably the toughest event on the planet.”
In further details, the website says “Tough Mudder events are hard core 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, half a million inspiring participants, and more than $3 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.”
Seven area athletes, all of whom train at the Four Rivers Area Family YMCA in Washington, made the trip to Poplar Bluff on Oct. 13 to give the Tough Mudder their best shot.
Competing were David Cox, Brandy Kimminau, Adam Koch, Heather Henderson, Greg Birkmann, Adam Smith and Melissa Brown.
Approximately 200 to 300 people competed in each heat of the two-day event.
There were roughly 26 obstacles scattered throughout the course that included mud, fire, ice-water and 10,000 volts of electricity.
To paint a mental picture, each obstacle had a name. Some of them included Bale Bonds, Braveheart Charge, Berlin Walls, Cliffhanger, Devils Beard, Electric Eal, Funkey Monkey, Gauntlet and Greased Lightning.
It was far from just a walk in the park.
Just to get to the starting line, participants had to climb an 8-foot wall.
Once everyone was at the starting line, the master of ceremonies gave a motivational speech, which was needed.
Music also was played during the event. Anything to help the participants through the course helped.
It’s impossible to fight the Tough Mudder alone.
Instead, it takes a boost and a push from friends and teammates to get over walls as high as 12 feet and through underground mud tunnels — all when you’re body is soaked with water and mud.
Cox, Koch and Kimminau, all Washington natives, had plenty to say about experiencing Tough Mudder for the first time.
“You’re not just going through all of these different obstacles, which is challenging enough, but you’re pushing yourself through mud that’s up to your knees and your waist,” said Cox, an avid rugby player in the area. “There were random mud pits everywhere. It was very competitive. It’s no joke.”
Koch, a former Washington High School football player, said he was challenged right off the bat.
“The second obstacle on the course was a pit probably 6 feet deep that was full of ice water. It was brutal,” Koch said. “It was tough, but I loved it. The best part was looking forward to what was coming up next.”
Kimminau pushed her way through the course as well, but agreed that it took teamwork.
“As a girl, there was no way I could climb over those walls by myself. It definitely took teamwork. You’re forced to work as a team, which made it fun going through the obstacles, ” Kimminau said. “I’ve run in a couple of half-marathons, but this was definitely the hardest thing physically I’ve ever done. There was a lot of walking, crawling and jumping.”
The Tough Mudder is much different than Muddy Buddy and Warrior Dash.
It’s three times as long and requires supreme athletic ability and mental toughness.
“You definitely have to be in shape. You have to train and prepare for it,” Cox said. “It takes a lot of upper-body strength.”
It took the local YMCA team four hours and 15 minutes to finish the race, which all seven of them did.
“There’s no down time,” Koch said. “I think everyone in our heat finished the race, but it takes a lot of work. There’s a lot of climbing and jumping. Sometimes you have to carry each other.”
So why would anyone want to put themselves through this for better than four hours?
“I was looking for a physically demanding challenge and definitely found one. From start to finish, it was very challenging,” Cox said.
“I had a blast. I guess I just like beating the crap out of myself. It was an eye-opening experience. I can’t wait for the next one,” Koch added.
“One thing I really liked was not only does it donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, but there were also wounded warriors competing,” Kimminau said. “It was neat to see them out there and help them when they needed it.”
The YMCA team stayed together throughout the race.
“We all finished together,” Koch said.
Originally, Koch and Kimminau had just planned to compete, but wisely recruited some teammates at the YMCA.
“Adam took the initiative to put the team together,” Cox said.
“I met everyone on our team here at the Y,” Kimminau said. “I’m glad we got the team together. We all supported each other and helped each other through it.”
Koch was quick to answer the question of whether there will be another appearance in the Tough Mudder.
“Absolutely. I’ll do it again. There’s one in April in St. Louis and one in September in Kansas City. I’ll do both,” Koch said. “I encourage everyone to give it a try. You just have to train and prepare for it. And don’t do it alone. Bring friends.”