Mud at First Sight: A Q&A with Mudder Legionnaire Musko
Name: Devon Musko
Occupation: Inside Sales Account Manager
Hometown: North Olmsted, OH
Headbands Earned: 21 (20 Tough Mudders, 1 World's Toughest Mudder)
Devon Musko describes herself as just your average Ohio girl working a full-time job like everyone else. However, we beg to differ. In just over a year, Devon has completed 21 Tough Mudders, met hundreds of Mudder friends, slimmed down her weight and beefed up her confidence. Jokingly, Devon says she’s not shy about discussing “her inspirational journey from fatass to badass,” and ever since her first Tough Mudder, well, it was “mud at first sight.”
When asked to describe Tough Mudder in one word you said “rewarding.” Could you elaborate on that?
Over the course of 2013, there was an enormous list of things that I have seen, been a part of, realized, and gained—from the initial feeling of "I did it" to receiving messages from people all over the world telling me I've inspired them to push themselves or that they want to run as many Tough Mudders as I have. I was so honored last year to run with every single person that I did, and it was amazing to help one another through the course and hear everyone's stories. Finding Tough Mudder has shown me that you can be a badass as long as you are out there doing the best you can.
You bought a Tough Mudder season pass in 2013. What inspired you to do that?
On October 20, 2012 I ran my first Tough Mudder in Maysville, Kentucky. It took me 6.5 hours to get through the course, and I failed just about every obstacle. When I got home I knew I wanted to lose weight and get back in shape. I also knew I needed a goal to work towards, or I'd give up sooner than I would like to admit. That's when I saw there was a season pass, and I thought that would be a fun way to go to every event I could. I resolved to improve on something with each event.
You've done over 20 Tough Mudders as well as a World's Toughest Mudder. How do the two events differ?
WTM is a complete 180 from a normal Tough Mudder. There are many more obstacles per mile, and you need to try to log as many miles as you can in 24 hours on a course with amped up or brand new obstacles. One thing that was still the same, however, was the help and support. Even though WTM is a competition, it never once felt like that. People were very friendly and cheered each other on. On my last lap, the guy that came in 3rd ran past me. I shouted to him, "You're a beast!" He slowed down his running a little and turned around and said, "So are you!" It just goes to show that true Mudders aren't the type to think they are better than anyone else.
What is the most inspiring thing you've ever seen on a Tough Mudder course?
This is seriously one of the toughest questions to answer. Running 21 Tough Mudders has allowed me to meet people from all walks of life, and I have seen some amazing accomplishments. I have run with diabetics, military veterans, extreme athletes, amputees, a man fighting morbid obesity, a friend with cerebral palsy and a guy who carries a 120 lb Wounded Warrior dummy to honor those who can't run. Overall, seeing complete strangers helping each other without question is always absolutely amazing.
If I had to choose one moment, however, it was seeing [professional obstacle racing star] Amelia Boone at the Chicago Tough Mudder. How quickly she got through the course was very inspiring to me. After WTM 2013, I got the opportunity to personally thank her for being the first female to inspire me to lose my weight and get in shape. I barely managed to hold back my tears, but it was a great relief how sincere she was.
In your opinion, what obstacle brings out the best in people and why?
Mud Mile. I rarely see someone skip or fail this obstacle, and it allows adults to let their inner child come out and play. Some of the mud mounds are high and very slippery, and you see the strangers helping their fellow Mudders with no questions asked.
You ran TM Pittsburgh with a 30 pound log. What motivated you to do that?
My friend Ryan passed away in a car accident in the spring of 2013. He was also in the process of losing weight and getting in shape. He had come such a long way before he passed away, and I wanted to do something to honor his life. In my mind, running another Tough Mudder wasn't good enough. I wanted to do something even more insane to push myself to my limits.
He was a huge Steelers fan, so the week before the event, I went into the woods near my home to find a log that would be challenging to run with. I decorated it with Steelers colors because I knew he would have loved it. I knew it was going to be one of the most emotionally, mentally, and physically challenging things I had done to date, but I did it for Ryan, and as we crossed the finish line, he earned his first headband.
How many Tough Mudders do you plan on doing in 2014?
If all goes as planned, I hope to do 38 laps in 2014 and complete my second WTM. I want to have at least 50 orange headbands and 2 black [WTM] headbands by the end of 2014.
What advice do you have for people on the fence about doing a Tough Mudder?
Just do it. Whatever thoughts you have about not being able to get through the course or not being tough enough—stop it. It's more mental than anything. Our bodies are very limited when our minds tell us we can't do something. You probably can, you just have to avoid giving into what your fears are telling you and do it anyway. You'll surprise yourself and open your eyes to a whole new you.