“Want to do that crazy mud run thing with me?”
Some version of this question is how I, and most people, end up at the start line of a Tough Mudder. A friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor or a person at your networking group (that’s me) invites you to come along.
It’s usually accompanied with some other phrases like “It’ll be fun” or “It’s worth a try” or “It can’t be that bad.”
Then one day you find yourself in the start chute wondering if you wore the right clothes, if your shoes will stay on and if you’ll make it to the finish line. You listen to the best pump up talk by Sean Corvelle and suddenly you’re off and there’s no turning back now.
For me, that was exactly how I ended up at Tough Mudder back in 2011 when the company was brand new and no one really knew what it was or what it entailed. It truly was this “new crazy mud and obstacle thing.” I had been running marathons since college and those were getting boring, so an event with obstacles sounded much more intriguing.
There were two very distinct emotions I had on that July day in 2011. Fear and pride. I had no idea if I could do any of the obstacles or make the entire event.
A really strange thing happened that day. Every time I tried an obstacle (and mostly failed) people were cheering for me. Strangers were cheering. And people helped you when you wanted or needed it. The fear slowly changed into pride as I felt myself become a little bit more brave as I went through the event.
That day in 2011 and every event after changed me as a person.
- I realized that I had more strength in me – physically, mentally and emotionally.
- I turned strangers from the course into life long friends.
- I ended up at the top of the Cliff at Worlds Toughest Mudder and actually jumped.
- I quit my job and started my own business.
But more importantly than any of those things was an experience I had at the top of Everest years after that day in 2011. Something told us to wait before moving on. A man ran up the wall with no problem and then his mom ran up the wall. She fell. She tried again. She fell. She tried again. She was ready to give up and we all said “no, we are getting you up this wall.”
She got up that wall.
As it turns out, her son had gifted her a Tough Mudder 5k as a Mother’s Day gift. How incredible was that? She was in her 60’s, working hard on her fitness and a Tough Mudder seemed like the next challenge.
Her name is Buffie and she kept saying to us “Why would strangers stay there to help someone they didn’t even know?”
Because that’s what Tough Mudder is about and that’s what you do. Tough Mudder has given me a lot in my life and I have grown as a person because of my own accomplishments but when I think about what Tough Mudder can do for us as a community, I remember this moment.
Buffie and her son Danny went back home after that event and recruited friends. The next year, they had a group of over 10 people join them. The year after that? The group was over 20 people. The ripple effect kept going and going.
If you have been asked the question “Want to do that crazy mud run thing with me?” the answer is always yes. And if you’re thinking of trying the next distance or event, the answer is still yes.
The answer is yes, even if you’re nervous, scared, uncertain and you know you can’t complete all the obstacles. Because Tough Mudder is about being with the people who asked you that question “Want to do that crazy mud run thing with me?” and also being surrounded by strangers turned into friends on the course.
Whether you are a “one and done” kind of Mudder or a 100+ event Mudder, there is a place and a home for you on the course. See you at Tough Mudder Michigan 2021!