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Mud, sweat and tears:

Participants get down and dirty in trendy challenges

April 6, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Times Leader Sports Editor , Times Leader

The desire for physical fitness is at an all-time high nationwide.

Also, the need for a challenge is also there for plenty of people.

One of the most grueling and popular new forms of working toward fitness and experiencing a challenge are the "Tough Mudder" or "Mud on the Mountain" events and other obstacle-course style events.

For the majority of people who enter the Tough Mudder or grueling endurance events, the main goal is to finish. Most do not enter with visions of grandeur of a victory or even a place.

Many people, who've taken part in multiple events, are simply trying to beat their previous time and/or place.

The "Tough Mudder" was created by Will Dean, who is a former counter-terrorisim agent for the British Goverment. According to the "Tough Mudder" website, Dean was working toward his master's degree at Harvard and "his frustration with the unimaginative and repetitive marathons, triathlons, mud runs and other adventure runs" took its toll on him.

The "Tough Mudder" is typically 10-12 miles in length and features 20-30 challenging obstacles of variation. The first-ever event was held in Allentown, Pa. just two years ago. The events have grown to 12 states and there are plans for the event to expand to 30-40 events this year.

After a post on my Facebook account, several individuals indicated they'd competed in or at least known someone who had taken part in either a "Tough Mudder" or a different type of event.

Martins Ferry graduate Tony Collette, who played college football at Ohio University, recently took part in a Tough Mudder in Virginia.

At the urging and challenge of his friend and former teammate Chad Ratkovich, Collette signed up for an event in Wintergreen, Va.

"Chad told me I was scared and I would never do it, so I took him up on it," Collette said.

Collette entered, finished, lived to tell about and actually said, "the sickest part is that I would do another one."

The "Mud on the Mountain" is a similar style event that covers 7 miles at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. The event will feature 20 obstacles and will gain 1,063 feet in elevation during the course of the event, which wil be held on Saturday, May 12.

The description on the Seven Spring website says the entrants will, "test what you you are made of on the slopes at Seven Springs. Across more than seven miles of body-breaking terrain you will traverse ponds, scale boulder fields, climb your way over obstacles and clay your way up impossible inclines, all on your way to a triumphant finish atop the largest snow pile you will see anywhere in the middle of spring."

While the obstacles vary from race to race, the Mud on the Mountain's obstacles include: Spider Nest, The Cheese Grater, The Baby Crawl, The Head Banger, Dunk, Dunk Goose, Pole-land, Granite Gamper, Wormhole, Tahoe Trot, Boulder Dash, The Belly Flop, Trout Line, Dumpster Dive, The Walls of Wonder and Mt. Everest.

One of the neatest parts of these types of events from what we gathered from surfing the net and Collette pointed this out several times is the friendships, bonding and comradery that's formed during the course of the events between total strangers.

"Throughout the whole race, you see people helping each other that they've never seen in their life," Collette said. "For example, (in the Tough Mudder), there's an event that looks like a half-pipe for skate boarding. People were literally hanging over the side in order to reach for people to pull them up, while two other people were holding onto their legs so they wouldn't fall. Sometimes, you don't even see that type of comradery among teammates. It's just aweome to see."

Obviously, there are calmer ways to get exercise, but we're willing to bet there aren't more ways to gain a thrill and receiver a challenge.

For more information on Tough Mudders visit and for more information on Mud on the Mountain visit

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline



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