Tell Me About Yourself…
Hi, my name is Ray Milligan. I’m 45 years old, I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for 24 years. We have 6 boys ages 3-17. As a family there’s two major things we like to do for fun: dirt biking and obstacle course races. They’re both great activities to keep us healthy and active, get our blood flowing and adrenaline going.
I’ve been doing obstacle course races since about 2014. I’ve been involved in 50 Spartan events including 10 Trifectas, an Ultra, a Hurricane Heat, and 15 Tough Mudders. I’m excited now that my kids are getting older so we can do the adult courses together!
Why Do You Mudder?
Why I mudder has been an evolution – it started off as curiosity which turned into an obsession. I mudder now because of my kids. The reason why is because when I was younger, I was never very confident. I was athletic but never felt like I fit in because of my size. As I’ve done these mud runs, I’ve been able to push myself, train harder, and really apply myself to do things I never thought was possible or I was capable of.
What I want to do is show my kids that no matter your size or age, you’re capable of amazing things. You have to set a goal, work hard, and train, but you can achieve anything. It took me over 30 years to gain this confidence, and I want to make sure I’m instilling this confidence in them at a young age.
Where Do You Find Motivation?
We all find motivation in different places. I think the most interesting place I’ve found motivation was after a Tough Mudder event in Tahoe. I found a Holy Grail hat in the Merch tent and I thought the design of it was awesome, so I bought it despite not knowing what Holy Grail consisted of – I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. After doing the research, I figured I bought the hat and now I had to earn it.
I signed up that year for Holy Grail, then completed Toughest Mudder and World’s Toughest Mudder. I found it interesting that something that started out as a $20 hat really pushed me far beyond my limits of what I ever thought I was capable of.
How Would You Describe Tough Mudder to Someone Who’s Never Done One?
The way I would describe Tough Mudder is that it’s an event like no other. No matter your fitness level, whether you’re a beginning or an elite athlete, it’s something that will challenge you. It’s something that carries over to your personal life to help you set goals and do your best on a daily basis.
By doing Tough Mudder, you’re joining a community. You could be out at the store wearing your Tough Mudder t-shirt and someone approaches you and you hold a conversation about the events you’ve done. I was in Japan and someone approached me because of my Tough Mudder shirt. We started talking about the events we’ve done. I think it’s great because it reaches not only a local community, but a global one as well.
Tell Us About Your Injuries
With any activities, there’s the inherent risk of injury. I’ve had my fair share of broken bones, muscle strains, and a dislocated shoulder. The worst one I’m dealing with now happened at the race track on a dirt bike. I overshot a jump and I was thrown over the handlebars when I landed. I landed on my back and shattered my L2 vertebrae, splitting it in half.
After months of imaging, they decided I’d need a spinal fusion. It was devastating news because we planned a great summer of activities, including Tough Mudder – it would’ve been my sons’ first. I talked to my doctor and while he didn’t think it was a great idea, he didn’t think it would do additional damage. I slowly recovered and did some training, and was able to complete the Tough Mudder with my sons in Sonoma. I was so proud of them and myself. 3 days later I had spinal surgery and I’m currently recovering from that.
What Are Your Goals This Year?
My biggest goal this upcoming year is to get back to where I was prior to my surgery. I understand that may not be a completely realistic goal given limitations with flexibility and the rods and screws in my back, but I’m gonna push myself to get as close as possible.
I already signed myself and my kids up for the event in August 2023 which will be a year from my surgery. I’m hoping I can get into training sooner and get in good enough shape for the event. I can’t wait to get back out there with my family, friends, and the community, and earn another headband.
Is There a Cause You Care About?
Working with children’s hospitals. I spent some time with my boys at Oakland Children’s Hospital for their autoimmune disease. It’s heartbreaking to see all the sick children. I think being a part of raising awareness and funds for such a good cause would be really meaningful to me.
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Some sentences may be adjusted to improve readability due to the nature of transcribing in-person interviews.