Running a Tough Mudder may sound crazy to some people – scaling walls, wading through ice-laden waters, and getting zapped with 10,000 volts of electricity while running 10 miles isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But to others, it’s the life-changing challenge they’ve been looking for.
Mudders come in all forms, from hardcore athletes to fitness newbies. “No matter where you are in your journey, we all feel the same struggles – crazy work weeks, the occasional injury, and sometimes even a bit of self-doubt,” says Riley Rant, Tough Mudder Legionnaire and writer for Rally by Eventbrite. What we all have in common, however, is the ability to put the everyday bullshit aside, dig deep, and try something new (maybe even scary), that’ll ultimately redefine the boundaries of our comfort zones.
Riley caught up with these 5 fine folks who crushed Tough Mudder LA in 2015 to see how getting dirty gave them a little clarity, and a new outlook on personal accomplishment. Take a look to see how they overcame their own hurdles to prove that anyone can run a Tough Mudder. And yes – that includes you.
Meet Monique: Legionnaire and Mother of 10
As a single mom in Santa Clarita, CA, Monique has admittedly faced her fair share of difficulties. But rather than let her struggles define her, Monique decided to alter her perspective, viewing obstacles as “challenges that push me higher rather than push me down.” Tough Mudder was one of these challenges.
She and her sons had considered signing up for years when they realized “The timing would never be perfect.” While Monique questioned whether she had the hours to train or would ever be in shape, she decided to take action and register. “My children and I are determined to live life outside of our comfort zone, because that’s where the magic happens.” After finishing the challenge, her family promised to one another that Tough Mudder would be an annual tradition.
Her advice for new mudders? “Just do it! Run, plunge yourself in the water, climb, push your limits, be a part of something amazing. Then do it again.”
Meet Guile, Legionnaire, Who Leaves No Man Behind
Guile’s family fled the killing fields in Cambodia. As a child of refugees, his parents raised him to try his hardest and never take the easy way out. That’s probably why, after years of being teased about his weight, Guile believed that if he could complete a Tough Mudder, he could do anything. Terrified he’d give up mid-challenge, Guile said, “I was shocked to see how everyone, and I mean everyone, cheered to pump me up and keep pushing forward.” While running, he felt a sense of accomplishment that he’d never felt before. And after completing his first Tough Mudder, he began to look at life differently. “Not everyone has the same life as you do,” he said. “But when it comes to Tough Mudder, they’re in the same shoes as you. Each step moves you forward, and each step makes you stronger.”
Guile has run two Tough Mudders, volunteered in one, and is signed up to run again this fall.
Meet Todd, Legionnaire, Father, and Firefighter
Three years ago, Todd was in the midst of a divorce. “I really didn’t have the drive to do anything, and I climbed into a hole and pretty much shut everyone out.” After months of weight gain and mental negativity, Todd decided to make a change. He started working out, eating right, and feeling better. He was still searching for a way to push himself further when he met a woman who ran Tough Mudders, and encouraged him to sign up. “I never thought in a million years that I could do one. But when I started researching, it looked like an interesting challenge….So I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger,” he said. “Best decision I ever made.”
While training, Todd constantly asked himself: “Was I in good enough shape to do this? Was I mentally ready to overcome all my fears? Was I fooling myself that I could actually do something this hard?” But he continued training, pushing forward until he stood at the start line.
“The energy was electric,” he remembers. “Everyone was fired up and cheering so loudly. There was a gentleman in a wheelchair surrounded by his support group—and everyone was applauding him. That’s when I realized what it is to run a Tough Mudder. My heart was so full. I was right where I wanted to be.”
Todd just completed his 4th Tough Mudder last October with his girlfriend. He also signed up his 9-year-old daughter Charley to run the Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder. “At the end we both wore our headbands with pride. She was the happiest girl in the world. And you know what? I was the happiest dad in the world.”
Meet Kirsten Ratliff, Legionnaire Who Runs for Her Friend, Jacqueline
Kirsten was always an avid athlete and runner. But at age 21, she was diagnosed with an incurable illness, spending almost three weeks in the hospital in just one year. After doctors allowed her to start working out again, her boyfriend organized a team to run a Tough Mudder. “I felt I needed to show myself that I’m not my disease, and that I can still live my life and do the things I used to enjoy,” she said.
Ten days before her first Tough Mudder, Kirsten went to visit her old running partner, Jacqueline, who was battling colon cancer caused by Lynch Syndrome. “She said that one day when she was well, she’d be ‘nutso’ like me, and we’d run in a Tough Mudder together.”
Jacqueline passed away the day after Kirsten ran her first Tough Mudder. Since she never got a chance to run, Kirsten participates every year in Jacqueline’s honor. “Thinking of how she faced her fears and how brave she was helps push me through my fears when I’m on the course.” Despite her own health challenges, Kirsten has completed three Tough Mudders and is on her way to completing her fourth. “My toughness comes from Jacqueline who passed away but inspires me to be as brave and strong as she was. My toughness comes from my mental determination to live my life.”
Meet Jason, 6x Legionnaire—Post Motorcycle Accident
After shattering his pelvis in a motorcycle accident in 2005, it took Jason three steady years to fully heal and get back to a normal pace of life. Since then, Jason has wasted no time proving he’s tougher now than ever before. Since his Temecula run in 2014—with his two sons and friend, Cody—Jason has completed six runs, including 2014’s World’s Toughest Mudder. And he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. This year, he’ll not only run in Tough Mudder, he’ll be back at World’s Toughest to push himself past his previous record of 37 miles.
Ready to run your first Tough Mudder or Half Mudder? Create your team and sign up today.Originally published on Rally by Eventbrite. Mudder stories written by Riley Rant.