Mudders, this year has been rough.
We are Mudders. We thrive on community, strength in teamwork, and working together to tackle obstacles. We clumsily step on a strangers shoulders to heave ourselves over Berlin Walls, or reach for a muddy hand while running with all your might up Everest. We aren’t built to be isolated indoors, we are made to be united by mud, sweat, and tears. After being apart, socially distanced, isolated for months – sadly watching the Tough Mudder schedule being driven into 2021 due to Covid, cue Tough Mudder Challenges, a virtual fitness challenge new from Tough Mudder.
As an opportunity to get motivated again, to challenge myself, and to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Tough Mudder, my partner and I immediately jumped on board and bought all six months without hesitation. And I’m so happy that we did. We just spent 21 days together as a community through the Tough Mudder Challenges, Grand Canyon and it was an incredible way to virtually feel the strength, love, and humbleness of our Mudder community again.
This Challenge was very timely for me. A few of you know I struggle with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune condition that really hands it to me sometimes. I was feeling low energy and disconnected – strongly relating to the phrase “quarantine fatigue” after sheltering for weeks. I had just been getting back into my exercise routine after recovering from a minor surgery and was excited at the chance to be reunited with the Mudder community and re-energize. I wasn’t let down, I spent 21 days tackling each of the challenges, laughing and commiserating along with you all – cracking up at the videos, watching you guys gulp down SO many raw eggs (I couldn’t hang with that one!), navigating pulling on a t-shirt upside down, and getting really creative with pyramid scheme and ways to get our elevation in.
The True Finisher Challenge had us putting on a T-shirt while doing a handstand against a wall:
I slowly worked my way through each challenge. The obstacle highlight for me was sitting in a kiddie pool full of ice with my partner to conquer arctic enema, challenges edition. Being a big fan of arctic enema on course, we went a little extra and decided to go for the Level Up Lane. As a refresher, Level Up Lanes can be found on course for Mudders who want to up the ante and try a harder version of the obstacle. In this case, the added challenge was a FULL 10-minute dunk in the ice bath. My partner and I managed to finish the 10-minutes after which I DASHED out in a panic, in true arctic enema fashion. It was also a lot of fun to see the mini-mudders get involved. Our kiddo helped with room raiders by designing a pretty impressive arctic enema using cardboard from the recycle bin (is anyone else inundated with cardboard from getting everything delivered??).
I think the most important part of this all is that I was reunited with my Mudder family, watching the posts come through, brainstorming how to tackle each challenge – checking in with each other, giving updates.
Finished the Grand Canyon Virtual Fitness Challenge by knocking out four Colorado 14ers!
I was most touched by our amazing community towards the end of the 21 days. In the group, messages started coming in from folks who were having trouble with the obstacles “feeling defeated, I didn’t get my elevation in”, “not sure I’ll be able to finish”. In true Mudder style I watched so many folks jump in and offer to run extra miles, get extra elevation, and do extra reps to donate to our Mudders in need, to make sure we could cross that finish line together. A virtual boost over the wall, the muddy hand reaching out to pull you up. No Mudder left behind…this is why I love this community.
I was not let down by this experience and I’m so excited for the next 21 days ahead. Let’s continue tackling this together and reminding ourselves that we are Mudders and though at a distance, we are all still here for each other. Come 2021, that reunion is going to be even stronger and special when we can give muddy high fives and hugs in person! See you in the mud – Kat.
Katherine Nicholas is a professional geologist who lives with her family in Denver, Colorado. She has been running Tough Mudder since 2016 and has 11 under her belt through traveling the US and Canada. On the weekends you can find her hiking the mountains in Colorado with her fellow Mudder partner and six-year-old kiddo. You can find her on Instagram @geologistkat.