There is nothing much like being at a Tough Mudder finish line in the world. Watching the emotion on people’s faces as they set their resolve and drive hard towards the finish of a grueling 10-12 mile course.
Every person crossing that line has fought their own battle out on the course and maybe now their life has changed forever. Being at a Tough Mudder race contains some of the key ingredients for having a rewarding personal experience, such as overcoming personal fears and limitations, getting millions of people off the couch to participate in a new event, the opportunity to focus on teamwork while striving towards a collective goal and a sense of accomplishment that you earned the orange headband the finish line volunteers place on your head as you cross.
Camaraderie and teamwork are notoriously present in every aspect of completing a Tough Mudder- from the obstacles such as Everest, requiring the help of teammates to get over to the groups that link arms and finish with an exhausted but satisfied smile on their faces. This same teamwork is missing in many other areas of life. America’s culture has increasingly become an “every man for himself” perspective. Not many areas of life will find fellow competitors stopping to help a fellow athlete (and many times complete stranger) as he’s struggling to make his way through an event.
All of us who participate regularly in OCR (obstacle course racing) have heard about times when people who have never met before have met and made new friends on courses, friendships that may continue even after the finish line is crossed and the celebratory beer drank. In my opinion, obstacle racing is one of the most amazing things in the world. Thousands of people with every body type and fitness level imaginable show up to complete a course, smiling the entire time, pushing themselves to exhaustion, helping others over, under and through various obstacles with various skill levels. What sets Tough Mudder apart is that there are no “elite” competitors; you’re just as likely to find a 6 foot bodybuilder at the top of Everest waiting to help people over as you are someone who’s never competed or completed a race in his or her life. People who, in the outside world would never rub shoulders, encourage each other, push each other, laugh together and cry with each other.
The truth about completing an OCR is that every pain, every agony, every moment of doubt you suffer brings ten times the reward. Finding your inner strength to keep going even when you tell yourself you can’t; using every last bit of mental resolve to make it through the final obstacles to get to the finish line; offering a helping hand to someone who is clearly struggling- be it mentally overcoming a fear or physically having difficulty completing the task at hand.
While everyone has different opinions on the various obstacle races, one thing is certain: obstacle racing brings out the beauty of the human spirit. The mental grit that’s necessary to get yourself from start to finish is shown in every aspect of the participants struggling through a tough course. If you need to be reminded that goodness still exists in others, participate in an obstacle race. You’ll see that in the face of adversity, teamwork conquers all doubts.