Sinking into muddy pits, getting electrical shocks and jumping into dumpsters filled with ice—Sound like a way to spend your Saturday morning?
Mud runs are now the fastest growing fitness activity popping up everywhere around the country, with hundreds of thousands of participants paying to partake in these grueling obstacle courses. Part of the appeal is that events are aimed more on the experience and personal challenge than on keeping time, as in a traditional race.
Many Airmen, from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., who have run in these are discovering that they enjoy the events and will gladly pay to do it again.
“Participating in a mud run is different than just going on a run,” said Senior Master Sgt. William Ray, 50th Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant. “It’s an extra challenge that combines running with challenging obstacles and team-work,” said Ray, who has completed two Tough Mudder events and has plans to complete another in April.
A Tough Mudder is a popular, obstacle course, mud event ranging from ten to twelve miles in distance with obstacles placed approximately every half mile. For example, there is an obstacle called the Arctic Enima where athletes jump into a dumpster filled with ice, brrrrr. Another is called the Electric Eel, where you crawl on your stomach through mud while going under planks with live electrical wires dangling down. It’s a ‘shocking’ experience to say the least.
“As a first sergeant I strive to do the best I can to lead by example, and staying Fit to Fight is an important part,” said Ray. “So, this challenge gave me motivation to train in a new way that I wouldn’t normally do, pushing myself to new limits.”
Tech. Sgt. Senna Imura, 452nd Airlift Control Flight, is another who enjoys the challenges.
“The Arctic Enema chilled my body to the bone! I can’t believe I paid money to put my body through that. I had to give myself a pep talk before a friend and I jumped in together,” Imura said. “I paid and registered, to give myself a new challenge and for something fun to do with a group of friends.”
Imura, who completed her first mud run with a group of four other Airman and one civilian friend at the San Diego Tough Mudder earlier this month, said the course helps build camaraderie.
According to its website, one of the Tough Mudders’ pledges is to help fellow mudders complete the course, which Imura said reminds her of her military responsibility to be a good wingman.
Another part of the Tough Mudder pledge that made the event appeal to her was that each mudder understands that the event is a challenge, not a race, said Imura.
“So my team and I helped each other through obstacles and stuck together through the course.
The appeal and popularity to complete a mud run goes beyond fitness and camaraderie to help a charity. Tough Mudders, in particular, benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, and to date, have raised more than $6 million, which the project uses to support thousands of warriors returning from the battlefield.
“It feels good participating in an event that supports a good cause,” said Ray.
The March ARB Company Grade Officers Association helps raise money for charities by being involved with the Defenders’ Dash Mud Run, an annual event that consists of a three to five mile course with 12 to 23 obstacles.
“Partnering with this event has been a great experience. Not only does it serve as a great way to fundraise, in order to help others in need, but it’s also a fun event to participate in or watch and cheer others along,” said Capt. Martin Lim, flight commander, 752nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who is a seasoned mudder, having completed five different runs so far.
Money raised from the Defenders’ Dash Mud Run is donated to the Wounded Warrior Project and a March ARB charity called Operation Warm Heart, which provides gift baskets to March military and civilian workers who may need extra assistance during the holidays.
“Participating in a mud run guarantees you will get dirty, but it also helps to give you a new fitness challenge, build bonds with new and existing friends and raise money for charity,” Lim said. “Sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday morning!”