Last Fall, I reluctantly took part in the Tough Mudder. For those of you who don’t know what this is...it’s an event that has a series of obstacles that are filthy, physically and mentally challenging, and without a doubt a bit overwhelming.
I was EXTREMELY hesitant to do it, even up until the day of the event. To be bluntly honest, I expected it to be yet another event where my lack of overt manliness was pointed out to me over and over, and I would be forced to smile, struggle through, and wonder how I got talked into this shambling mess.
But….it was totally different than I ever expected. 100% different. It was transformative.
As we walked towards the starting line, there was a cohort of people warming up. Leading it was a guy who was 110% passionate...the entire time he was speaking about the camaraderie of the experience, of people helping each other succeed, and how this was one of the few places on Earth he had ever had the pleasure to experience that.
After warming up, we met a gentleman who must have been a former drill instructor. However, it was the inversion of a drill instructor, in that he spoke only in quiet words, and was 100% inspiring. He talked about people of all sizes, all ages, and all levels of fitness pushing themselves to see where their mental, physical, and emotional boundaries were. He talked about seeing others in need, and helping them. Each and every one of his statements I heard, but wasn’t sure I could trust.
As we went out on the course, everything that the two gentlemen had said read true. I saw people cheering each other on in every single way possible. I saw people literally bending over so that people could stand on top of them to ascend a wall when they didn’t have the strength to do so themselves. Muddy, filthy, tired….and people were gracious and kind to each other. White, black, female, male, old, young, fat, skinny, muscular… every single type of person was doing this with me. What did we have in common? We wanted to see if we could do it.
My own challenge came at an obstacle where I had to go up a wall using only two pegs, like those malicious pegboards that are on the walls of your local middle school gymnasium. I got 85% of the way up, but my arms turned to jello, and I just couldn’t haul my way up any more. I just couldn’t do it. I looked down, saw a person below me, and said “Watch out. I’m going to drop. I’ve got nothing left.” I turned back towards the wall so that I could slide down. All of a sudden this guy was below me, having ascended the wall in 3 seconds...placing his peg beneath my left foot. Bracing himself, he lifted me to the top of the obstacle with a push...and I was over.
I looked at him and said, “Thank you. I couldn’t have done that by myself.” He smiled and grunted, “That’s what this whole thing is about. Now go help someone else.”
That, my friends, is what we need more of in this country. People helping each other, with no reservations, with no qualifications, and no expectations of getting something out of it. I think that used to be a core value of what it meant to be an American, and is something we need to embrace and revive in this time of such extreme political division.
So, with all those words, and all that description… I’m interested in seeing who wants to run with me this year. I’m running on Sunday June 4th. For the next 2 days, tickets for a single person are $69.
If you want to run, send me a Message. If you can’t front the money right now, and I know you well, let me know, and we can talk. If we get enough people, I imagine we could register as a team and get special benefits.
In the end, it was one of the singularly best things I’ve done physically, and made me want to do it every year. I want to share that with more awesome people. Who wants to join me?