December 18, 2012

On October 27, a few members of the JHE team participated in what is described as “probably the toughest event on earth.” Michael Verlatti, Ryan Martin, Cassie Brickman and myself along with two Wisconsinites, Jess Suter and Megan Synder, set out to participate in a Tough Mudder Challenge.

The team had signed up for the event earlier in the year, and we were determined to push ourselves to the brink. We had all run a few 5Ks and other “mud runs” in the past but nothing compared to the 12-mile run with obstacles designed by the military’s Special Forces that we would soon encounter in the challenge.

We began training about 16 weeks prior to the challenge, starting with three- to five-mile jogs. Ryan and Cassie added in CrossFit workouts to increase body strength and stamina. Michael signed up for every class known to man, creating a very busy training regimen for himself. I personally stuck to long jogs and circuit workouts a few times a week. As the event approached, we lost a key member, Cassie, who had to sit out due to health issues, but she became our coach.

The JHE crew arrived at the course before a 10 a.m. start time to prepare for the challenge we were about to face in 60 degree weather. The first obstacle was jumping in a giant ice bath; a difficult way to start a 12-mile journey! However, we kept on and prevailed through difficult challenges, including an eight-foot wall climb, a mud crawl through live wires, giant hay bale climbs, log carries and swimming through a pond ducking under water barrels.

One of the most difficult obstacles came towards the end of the race around mile nine or ten when you had to carry a teammate on your back up a hill. Since we were an odd numbered group, Michael turned around and carried the next guy in line who just so happened to be dressed in a purple spandex suit with fairy wings. Seeing Michael carry that man and then jump on his winged back gave us the extra boost of energy we needed to complete the race!

The final challenge was running up a giant half pipe greased in oil and then running through live wires. We were exhausted but all proud of ourselves for completing the challenge. It was an incredible team building experience and by far the toughest challenge I’ve ever completed. I can’t wait to start training to compete in my next Tough Mudder challenge.

– Chris Fox

Chris Fox, Michael Verlatti, Ryan Martin, Cassie Brickman, Tough Mudder