Playing, learning in the mud

A total of 9,003 people got wet and muddy participating in the Tough Mudder event held June 2-3 on the 1,200-acre Koenig Sand & Gravel property in Oxford Township. For plenty of full-color Mudder photos, purchase a copy of the Leader for $1. Photos by C.J. Carnacchio.
A total of 9,003 people got wet and muddy participating in the Tough Mudder event held June 2-3 on the 1,200-acre Koenig Sand & Gravel property in Oxford Township. For plenty of full-color Mudder photos, purchase a copy of the Leader for $1. Photos by C.J. Carnacchio.

Over the weekend, the Tough Mudder event came and went in Oxford Township, leaving behind sore muscles, refreshed spirits and a renewed sense of purpose and hope for many of its participants.

“All in all, it was so much fun. It was like being a little kid (again),” said Oxford resident Becky Rinke. “I would totally do it again next year.”

“It was amazing,” said Oxford resident Beth Lane. “I was overwhelmed by the love, the camaraderie and the perseverance I saw. It was awesome. I’m so doing it next year.”

“You don’t know what you’re capable of until you do something (like this),” said Oxford resident Katie Engelbert. “It shows you just how far you can push yourself.”

Tough Mudder is a popular, team-based challenge where participants tackle a variety of military-style obstacles spread over a course designed to test their physical and mental strength, stamina and ability to work together to achieve common goals.

This was the second straight year that the 1,200-acre Koenig Sand & Gravel property along Lakeville Rd. hosted Tough Mudder.

The event attracted a total of 10,248 people – 9,003 participants and 1,245 spectators.

It was the first time that Rinke, Lane and Engelbert took on the grueling obstacle course. They were part of a five-person team and they absolutely loved the experience.

“My favorite part of doing it was the camaraderie among the people,” Rinke said. “Everyone that was there was there to help their fellow man. Everyone was there to help each other.”

Tough Mudder is not a timed race. There are no medals waiting at the finish line. Everyone is encouraged to help each other conquer the obstacles and finish the course.

Rinke recalled how Mudder participants, even after successfully completing an obstacle, would stay behind for a little while to help everyone from teammates to perfect strangers overcome the daunting challenges.

“It was a beautiful thing,” she said. “It just sort of restores your faith in humanity . . . seeing the good in other people. That’s what I loved about it.”

Engelbert said “it was unbelievable” seeing “everyone helping each other out” and giving support to “complete strangers.”

Lane’s favorite part of the Mudder experience was “feeling like a kid again.”

“It was like I was running through the woods, in the mud, just having a blast,” she said.

“(The course) was more fun than anything,” Rinke noted. “Even when we were tired and our muscles ached, we were still having fun.”

Rinke, Lane and Engelbert took on the half Mudder course.

Oxford residents (from left) Katie Engelbert, Becky Rinke and Beth Lane took on the Tough Mudder obstacle course together Saturday.
Oxford residents (from left) Katie Engelbert, Becky Rinke and Beth Lane took on the Tough Mudder obstacle course together Saturday.

There were three courses on the Koenig site – the full Mudder, which required participants to take two laps around the 5-mile course and overcome a total of 24 obstacles; the half Mudder with its 12 obstacles spread over 5 miles; and the new 5K Mudder with its 10 obstacles set up along a 3.1-mile course.

There was also the Toughest Mudder, a 5-mile course consisting of 17 obstacles that was run overnight between Saturday and Sunday. Participants started at midnight and ran as many laps as they could in an eight-and-a-half-hour period.

The only obstacle that Rinke and Lane were unable to complete was the final one, a new challenge dubbed “Happy Ending.”

Happy Ending has the distinction of being the largest obstacle to ever be included in a Tough Mudder event. The imposing structure is 25 feet tall, more than 80 feet wide and 100 feet long. In order to reach the top, participants must work together to form human ladders on a slippery surface that’s angled at 40 degrees. After that, they must dive, feet first, down a 30-foot slide into some water.

Both Rinke and Lane fell and hit their tailbones on a two-by-four before plunging into the water whence they came. “The last challenge took me out,” Rinke said. “We were in so much pain. We couldn’t go back up.”

“I think I left my tailbone in that water,” Lane said. “That was roughest one.”

Even though Engelbert completed Happy Ending, she still described it as “awful.”

“When you fell, it hurt the most,” she said. “I hit the side of my hip. I landed really hard on that (two-by-four) because I fell sideways instead of straight down.

Running the Mudder was definitely a life-affirming experience for all three women.

“This is one of those things that gives you a boost, brings you happiness and reminds you about . . . (the) good in people,” Rinke said.

In a culture that’s becoming more and more “individualistic,” Rinke believes “it’s important for people to remember that you can’t do everything by yourself.”

“We need each other as human beings,” she said. “(The Tough Mudder) is a perfect example – (it) embodies teamwork. It made me feel good to help other people.”

“I feel like I learned a lot about compassion,” Engelbert said. “We found this guy running by himself and we took him in and we made sure he got to the end, too.”

Lane was struck by something that was said during the pep talk that’s given to Mudder participants before they hit the course. The speaker asked the crowd, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

“After that experience, I realized that I need to live a little more,” Lane explained. “I made a list of things I haven’t done for the first time yet and I want to do them.”

“We need to put ourselves out there more, live a little more and do things for the first time again. That is really living,” she said.

To all those folks out there considering taking the Mudder challenge, all three women said the same thing – “do it.”

“Don’t worry about it. You will get through it. Every single person there will help you through it,” Lane said.”It’s not about how fit you are. This is not that type of run.”

“You will grow as a person. You will have so much fun. You will feel like a kid again. You should definitely do it,” she added.

All three women are excited about the prospect of tackling the whole Mudder course next year. “I’m up for the full,” Lane said.

 

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