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 Montreal, Upstate New York, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Berlin, Germany, let’s meet the motivating 2014 Mudders of Yorkshire-UK, Rhein-Main (Germany), Portland and Pittsburgh/Ohio Valley.
Russell Blythe - Tough Mudder Yorkshire Finisher
Three years ago my drinking spiraled out of control. I couldn’t see a way out, and I thought I was going to become an alcoholic. On February 18, 2014, I decided to stop drinking, and I haven’t had a drink since. I started jogging and lifting weights a few nights a week and eventually joined a gym. I used Tough Mudder Yorkshire as a focus point and lost four stone (56 pounds) throughout training. My first Tough Mudder made me realize what I could achieve. A few months earlier, I couldn’t have run a bath. After Yorkshire, I ran Tough Mudder North West, and now I’m hooked. Tough Mudder helped me change my mindset and my life. Even though I’ve had a lot of problems in 2014, this is been the best year of my life because I used my rock bottom as a solid foundation for the rest of my life.
Johannes Geersten - Tough Mudder Rhein-Main, Germany Finisher
Six years ago I had reached a new low: I weighed 145 kg (320 pounds), had trouble breathing, and just felt like my life was going downhill. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror, so I decided to make a change. I cut out fast food, rode my bike several times a week and began losing weight. There were many highs and lows, but I dropped my weight down to 125 kg (275 pounds). In May 2014, my friend told me about Tough Mudder Rhein-Main, and I spontaneously said yes. It was the greatest motivation I could think of, and increasing the intensity of my training even further, I dropped my weight to 100 kg (220 pounds). What I experienced on course was like nothing I've ever seen before.
I never felt like I was taking on the course alone.
Random people I'd never met before helped me out. I never felt like I was taking on the course alone. The support and team spirit I felt from my fellow Mudders was incredible and helped me take on one of the biggest challenges of my life. Anyone can do a Tough Mudder if they just want to. Don't worry about not being fast or fit enough, just set yourself a goal and work as hard as you can. You'll have people along the way who will help you and a bunch of new friends at the finish line. If I can do it, anyone can. [English to German translation by David Gordon.]
Emmanuel Malfavon - Tough Mudder Portland Finisher
I ran my first Tough Mudder in June of 2013 and loved every minute of it. I was hooked from that day on and swore to run at least one Tough Mudder a year. Then in September 2013, my life took an unexpected turn. A grand mal seizure landed me in the emergency room and led to the discovery of a large egg-sized brain tumor. This was a shock to everyone. I have always been the healthiest person everyone knows. I have never broken a bone and rarely get sick, and here I was being told I needed to have a brain operation in two weeks. Luckily, the surgery was a success. Since the moment I woke up from surgery, I've had a different outlook on life. Lying on the recovery bed, my wife and I made a bucket list, and completing a Tough Mudder together was at the top of it. Along with my wife, sister and two friends, we ran Tough Mudder Portland 2014 together under the team name Oligoastrocytomas 2.0-- the type of brain tumor I had.
Vincent Capodicci - Tough Mudder Pittsburgh/Ohio Valley Finisher
On Monday, September 3, 2012, I was conducting protective operations in Pakistan when a suicide bomber drove into my vehicle and detonated 500 pounds of explosives. When I woke up, I had a torn brachial artery, traumatic brain injury, bilateral eardrum ruptures, all the ribs on the left side of my body broken, burns on 27% of my body and over 100 stitches. Fortunately, no one in my motorcade was killed, and I was the only one seriously injured. I spent a week at a hospital in Islamabad, a week in the ICU in D.C. and over four months recovering at home.
I never give up hope and always help someone in need.
I talked to my trauma surgeon about running Tough Mudder and he said, other than being in a lot of pain, the event wouldn't cause any further injury. Since then, I’ve been going strong. I completed the 24-hour World’s Toughest Mudder in 2013 and 2014. I still suffer from memory loss and headaches, and I need a hearing aid in my right ear, but I push myself every day. I take the time to enjoy the simple things in life. I never give up hope and always help someone in need.
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 Sunshine Coast (Australia), Tahoe, Toronto and UK-South West.
To share the story of your own Mudder journey, visit the official Mudders of 2014 page.