Conquering Tough Mudder

You don't have to be a marathon runner or gym rat to complete Tough Mudder, but you do need a bit of mental stamina and a great team

Credit: Luc Hilderman

Tough Mudder proves you’re tougher than you might think!

Tough Mudder proves you’re tougher than you might think!

Why do Tough Mudder? For fun, maybe, but also to prove that you’re stronger than you think

After over four hours and 16 kilometres of jumping into ice water, running uphill, leaping over fire, getting shocked by 10,000 volts of electricity and wading through mud pits that could swallow up small children, my teammates and I were crowned with the coveted orange headbands awarded to every finisher of Tough Mudder, billed as “probably the toughest event on the planet.”

The gruelling obstacle course isn’t considered a race, but an epic challenge of mental grit and physical stamina. The event was conceived by Harvard Business School alumnus Will Dean in 2009, and each of the course’s 20-plus obstacles are designed by British special forces. So why do it? For fun, kind of. But mostly to prove something to myself.

In August 2012 I was out jogging and I was hit by a car and seriously injured—I’m lucky to be alive and walking, but I was left with broken bones and permanent damage to my body. The road to recovery has been long, arduous and filled with more physiotherapy appointments than one person should have to endure. So when, in March 2013, friends asked if I wanted to do Tough Mudder, I took it as an opportunity to turn an unfortunate accident into a moment of strength.

I had every intention of training for the event, but each trip to the gym was followed by a physical setback or re-injury. So come June 22, on a cool, cloud-covered morning in Whistler, I had clocked very few hours of proper exercise. Despite my still-recovering condition, I managed to complete every obstacle. In the end, Tough Mudder is more of a mental game than a physical one.

You don’t need to be a marathon runner or even a gym rat to complete the whole challenge, but a team of awesome people will make it more fun than laborious and easier on the whole. It might also be useful to do it as a team builder with your colleagues. Give it a try!