Monday, October 5, 2015

Tough Mudder participants do it for fun and the challenge - By Michelle Libby

The weather was perfect this past weekend when over 6,000 people gathered at Sunset Ridge Golf Links for The Tough Mudder Great Northeast obstacle course and 10-mile run. People from all over the area and around New England gathered to swing, climb, swim and run through the challenging course that was more about bragging rights then about time. 
Photos by Jennifer Wescott and The Tough Mudder

“It was more challenging than I thought. I will do more upper body work for next year,” said Jennifer Dyar, who was on a team with five other women. Dyar lifted weights and ran at the Windham Fire Department, where she works part time as an EMT/firefighter. She is also a personal trainer.
“I did it for fun and the accomplishment of getting it done,” she said. 

The course is very physically demanding and once it’s finished the participants are elated with what they have completed. The Mudder is a staggered start, where groups of 100 people are let loose on the course to complete the obstacles at their own pace. 

Dyar described the event as more of a teamwork competition than an individual one. Some of the obstacles can’t be completed alone. After the National Anthem plays, which happens every 15 minutes, the group lines up, then the announcer tells them that these 100 people are your new team.
“They become your team,” Dyar said. “It’s a nice relief to know there are 100 other people along the way to help.”

Dyar and Windham resident David Collins agreed that their favorite obstacle was the King of the Swingers, which was described as jumping out to a bar and swinging to try to ring a bell before falling 20 feet into 46 degree water. 

Collins reason for running the race was to raise money and awareness for Boston’s Children’s Hospital where his daughter spent a lot of time being treated. The Miles for Miracles program that partners with the Boston Marathon set up a fundraising page that filters the money donated right to the hospital trust. He raised about $200 toward his goal of $750. 

“It’s fun. It’s definitely a challenge. There are very obstacles you can do by yourself,” Collins said. He joined in with a group from RI, since “no one else I knew was a glutton for punishment,” he said.
When teams are finished there is beer, music playing and many vendors showing their wares. The Tough Mudder raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project and the event is very patriotic, according to Collins. Individuals pay around $220 to participate.  

Jennifer Wescott volunteered for the second year at the Tough Mudder. “It was a blast,” she said. “I absolutely love giving back and helping others and there’s no way I’m doing the Tough Mudder.”
People love it, Wescott said. Some teams go through two or three times. They come by Wescott’s water station where she was handing out MedRX gummies, cold, wet and muddy and thanked her. “Everyone is positive and energetic. “I’ve never seen so many people who love gummies,” she added. They are so happy to see her. She got hugs from friends and hugs from strangers. She also was able to see her friends go through many of the obstacles and take pictures. 
“Some do it timed or just to say ‘I conquered it.’” People are all shapes and sizes and some just want to cross Tough Mudder off their bucket list, Wescott said. She saw groups from Massachusetts and one from Canada. The New Hampshire Maloney Mudders had 167 on its team in memory of a police chief who was killed in the line of duty. They carried a flag over the course. 

Sunset Ridge Golf Links held the Tough Mudder for the second year in a row. They have a five year contract, but are never sure if the committee will want to come back. 
“It was a lot easier this year. We knew what to expect and it was a little more laid back,” said Mike Smith, the property manager for the course. 

The Tough Mudder helps to fulfill the vision of the owners – to be a part of the community, Smith said. 

To say thank you to volunteers and participants, Sunset Ridge is opening up the foot golf course on Saturday, October 3 for free rounds. There will also be an open house from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. with food as a “Post Mudder Party.” 

Smith has never run in the Mudder, but said that “If they come back next year, I’d run it.”
By the end of the week, the crews will have finished putting everything back to how it was, said Smith. In the meantime, Sunset Ridge is working with the Westbrook cross country team and other races and challenges. 

For those who think maybe next year…“Never think you can’t do it. It’s not a race. It’s not a competition. It’s working with everyone in your departure time, racing together, no matter how long it takes,” said Dyar.  

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