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Four Mud Runners Who Put the 'Tough' in Tough Mudder

By Matt Alesevich | 11. December 2014


Tough Mudder's 10-12 mile military-style obstacle course is about much more than overcoming on-course obstacles-- it's a chance for people around the world to test their fitness while bonding with friends and fellow Mudders and overcoming physical, mental and personal obstacles along the way.

Faced with conditions ranging from broken bones to broken hearts, countless 2014 Mudders and their teams stepped up to the Tough Mudder start line with a mission to turn their scars into stars, and in the end, found that beyond the finish line awaited a new beginning.

So to honor the everyday men and women who, in true Mudder spirit, overcame seemingly-insurmountable obstacles both on course and off to become 2014 Tough Mudder finishers, we’ll be recognizing 57 motivational Mudders throughout the month of December--one from each Tough Mudder event this year.

Moving down the event schedule from Yorkshire-UK, Rhein-Main (Germany), Portland and Pittsburgh/Ohio Valley, let’s meet the motivating Mudders of Sunshine Coast, Tahoe, Toronto and UK-South West.

Kylie Button - Tough Mudder Sunshine Coast Finisher

I’m one of those people with a mind stronger than my body. In the last four years, I’ve been in and out of the hospital so much that two months with a clean bill of health was considered a “new record” by my friends and family. I was diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope, which involved months of fainting, seizures, chest pain and discomfort as a result of cardiac arrhythmias. And I’m only 22.

A year ago, I never would have thought I’d be healthy enough to participate in an event like Tough Mudder.

For weeks, I had to wear a portable EKG monitors under my clothes to try to record my episodes, and I experienced the embarrassment of having to plug myself into the wall in public to recharge the device. Since then, due to many lifestyle changes and the help of very patient medical professionals, I’ve gone from one or more episodes a week to one or two episodes a year. I’m now seven months with a clean bill of health, and I’m off all medications. A year ago, I never would have thought I’d be healthy enough to participate in an event like Tough Mudder. Crossing the finish line never felt so good.

Kirsten Ratliff - Tough Mudder Tahoe Finisher

In July of 2012 I was diagnosed with an incurable disease, severe ulcerative colitis, at age 21, and my active life came to a halt. I was a girl who loved running and going to the gym, but suddenly, my time was spent in doctors’ offices and in hospitals. By October 2013, I decided it was time to get my life back and stop letting my disease control me, so I signed up for Tough Mudder. There were days I felt so sick, but knowing I had a future Mudder to complete kept me going. The day after I completed my first Tough Mudder, my good friend and running buddy, Jacqueline Rush, passed away from cancer at 23. She always told me I was an inspiration for not letting my illness ruin my life and that someday she would run a Tough Mudder with me. Jacquelin never got a chance to run that Tough Mudder, so I ran for her. Tough Mudder reminds me that even though I’m sick, I have the mental grit and determination to cross the finish line with a smile on my face and Jacqueline in my heart.

Steve Barreca - Tough Mudder Toronto Finisher

Four years ago, my daughter, then 11 months, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. I was 100 pounds overweight and stressed. Getting used to our new lifestyle, I started eating healthier and riding my bike a lot, but I needed a dramatic change. I needed to improve my health and be an example to my child. A friend emailed me a Tough Mudder link, and I was hooked. Why? Because it wasn’t a race but a personal challenge. In eight months I shredded 100 pounds in preparation for the event. My friends have seen the positive changes I have made in my life and have been motivated to follow my example. Most importantly, my daughter and I have developed a healthy bond over eating well and exercising together.

Matthew Godden - Tough Mudder UK-South West Finisher

Each individual takes part in Tough Mudder for many different reasons: joy, pain, camaraderie, charity or the memory of a lost loved one. In my case it was all of these. But the real thing that saw me through the event from start to finish was my late cousin. She was taken from us in a horrific car accident through no fault of her own. When times got tough during Tough Mudder, I would simply look to the sky and repeat the words: “This one is for you Becky.”

I will continue to run both days at each event, one for each of us.

Even when my legs felt like crumbling and my lungs wanted to pack up, I would think about how much she would have loved to be in my wet, muddy, smelly shoes with thousands of lovely like-minded Mudders. I use these simple but motivating words when I have to grit my teeth, dig deep and keep on pushing forward, one step at a time. I will continue to run both days at each event, one for each of us.

Having previously featured the inspiring Mudders of UK-Yorkshire, Rhein-Main (Germany), Portland and Pittsburgh/Ohio Valley, our month of inspiration continues tomorrow, as we highlight the motivating Mudders of Great Northeast, Colorado, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), and Alberta.

To share the story of your own Mudder journey, visit the official Mudders of 2014 page.