This November, when other couples are touring wine country and lounging on West Coast beaches, Hannes Bayards and Renee Muhina of Maidstone, England will be sinking their toes in, not sand, but mud at World’s Toughest Mudder, Tough Mudder’s extreme 24-hour obstacle course challenge in Las Vegas.
The unconventional couple, who serendipitously met at a Tough Mudder a few years ago, have completed 23 events and 34 Tough Mudder laps together (in addition to a dozen separately between them).
We caught up with the Hannes and Renee leading up to November 14th’s World’s Toughest Mudder to find out how Tough Mudder churned out the World’s Toughest Couple.
TMHQ: Hannes, tell us about your Mudder journey leading up to meeting Renee.
HANNES: I wanted a challenge and needed a distraction, so I wanted to do a Tough Mudder. I bought a season pass and decided I wanted to do all 16 UK and Ireland event days. On the second event weekend I met three guys who I ended up running with the rest of the year. I then travelled to Germany to do two events there and the following event was where I met Renee.
TMHQ: Renee, tell us about your Mudder journey leading up to meeting Hannes.
RENEE: I saw a promotional video on Facebook one day and though it looked really good. I took a few days holiday, travelled up to Scotland and purchased my ticket on the [event] day. After that first event I was hooked and bought a season pass the following week. The following event, I was introduced to Hannes by a friend of mine whom I ran into after my lap on the Saturday.
THMQ: And the first time you met, Renee, Hannes?
HANNES: It was at my fourth and her second TM weekend. Me and a couple of friends who met at the previous event set up camp on the Friday night. Renee had finished work late and arrived in the middle of the night. It was purely by chance that she pitched her tent next to ours. After finishing our laps on Saturday we ran into her and one of my friends recognised her from his gym and introduced her to all of us. It was literally just a hello. We then chatted a tiny bit when she joined us for another lap on the Sunday.
TMHQ: Renee, what was your first impression of Hannes?
RENEE: There’s not really much to say. We just met very briefly and were introduced along with about half a dozen other people. When we started chatting I thought he was a nice guy but again, we were a whole group running together, so I wasn’t necessarily forming any opinions since there was so many of us and everyone was pretty nice.
TMHQ: How did your relationship progress from friendly group interactions to a relationship?
HANNES: At the following event after the one where we met, exactly the same thing happened with the tents and when I got up on Saturday morning we recognised each other and ended up running together. Despite thinking and insisting we were just friends, a few of our friends and new people we met assumed that we were seeing each other. Apparently people could see it by the way we were around each other and when we looked at each other.
TMHQ: What was the moment you realized that Hannes could possibly be more than a friend?
RENEE: We were doing an event which was only about half an hour away from my home. Hannes was living further north at the time and I said he could just come and crash on my couch rather than having to pay for a hotel. We spent the weekend together hanging out, going to dinner and doing the events on Saturday and Sunday. I was really looking forward to the weekend, thinking it was the events that I was looking forward too. After he left on the Sunday he sent me a message asking if it was strange that he was thinking of me and missing me, and I realised I was missing him too.
TMHQ: How has Tough Mudder strengthened your relationship?
HANNES: We both really enjoy the events and the social side of it. We have so many friends who only really see each other at the events and every time is like a little reunion. Because we both love it we are sharing a common interest and having fun together. At the same time we are spending time with our Tough Mudder family who also has the same interests. And of course it is helping to keep us fit and healthy.
TMHQ: Is there a Tough Mudder ritual you have as a couple?
RENEE: We always have a bacon and cheeseburger with some cheesy chips (French fries) after running.
TMHQ: What is your strategy going into WTM? What goals do you have?
RENEE: We would really love to get 75 miles, mainly due to the free [Tough Mudder] season pass.
Looking to test just how significant your significant other is? Think dirty and sign up for World’s Toughest Mudder 2015.