US Air Force at Tough Mudder Arizona

By TMHQ | May 12, 2017


The airmen from Luke Air Force Base are used to physical activity, the desert, and teamwork. This time they decided to combine all of this on their day off. Tough Mudder Arizona was lucky to have a team both volunteer and run from the local air base.

We caught up with Ridge Shan, A1C USAF, who organized the team to come and volunteer at Tough Mudder.

What attracted you to volunteering at Tough Mudder when you were approached?
The Air Force promotes a commitment to both high physical fitness standards and community service. This was an opportunity to do both at the same time, allowing Luke airmen to support members of the local community by helping them to meet and achieve their health and fitness goals. It's a small reflection of the way that local communities support Luke to accomplish our mission here.

Did you get a lot of interest from the base? How did you advertise it?
Many of our airmen, being focused and highly active individuals, jumped at the chance to participate. Luke’s command structure is able to channel requests for volunteer support throughout the wing. We welcome and enjoy any chance to volunteer for a good cause.

How did you organize it within the base to coordinate a team?
We asked for airmen who were interested, they responded, and we worked out days and times that fit into their typically busy schedules to get them teamed together and ready to go.

What were the comments from the team about volunteering & running the event?
Our people loved it. It was an incredible joy to be able cheer on, help, and take care of gracious runners and participants who have put themselves out there in the pursuit of physical excellence. Many of our volunteers can’t wait to participate in similar events in the future.

A couple of quotes I grabbed from participating airmen:

  • "I had a few runners shake my hand just for giving them water. It was pretty cool, but I didn't really understand how they could be so appreciative until I ran myself the next day. You realize the volunteers are really taking care of you."
  • "It was exciting to start, I hated it half-way through, and then I felt incredible personal accomplishment crossing the finish line alongside my friends and coworkers. I definitely plan on doing another event in the future."
  • “Being able to be volunteer and meet so many great people gave me a lot of motivation, not only for my own run, but also in kick starting my progress toward my personal fitness goals this year.”

What made you want to get the airbase involved with Tough Mudder?
We want to always be able to give back to the local community. Volunteering at physical and endurance events like Tough Mudder are a fantastic way for Luke airmen to foster our community relationship in a direct, down-to-earth way. This was a great chance to work with everyday people outside of the military to accomplish the same things and conquer the same obstacles, literally.

We hear you had the Commander & Bombardier who came along to volunteer & run – how did they enjoy it?
When asked about the event, the general had this to say: “We grow in life by taking the hill even when it is steep, crossing the expanse even when it is filled with mud, and most of all dedicating ourselves to serving and teaming with others...and this was just another fun and messy opportunity for Thunderbolts to transform a test into an opportunity for excellence.”

Our Command Chief expressed a similar opinion: “This was the first time I've ever been part of anything like this.  I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as the whistle sounded to begin the course I knew I was part of something special.  Hundreds of individuals became one team, united in a single purpose: to ensure everyone completed the challenge in front of them.  The culture of this community is similar to our own family across Thunderbolt Nation; brothers and sisters extending a hand to help each other through our challenges.”  *'Thunderbolt' is a nickname for a Luke Airman.

What would you say to other military organizations who are thinking of getting involved?
It’s just Saturday morning PT!

Disclaimer: While the airmen from Luke loved volunteering and running the course, this post is not endorsement of Tough Mudder by the Air Force. Want to sign up to volunteer? Get involved at