As with TMHQ tradition, when a team member moves on, he or she is encouraged to write a heartfelt farewell email, sharing a favorite mud-coated Tough Mudder memory. Recently, one of our all-time greatest recruiters, Adam Suritz, did just that and in parting, recounted an on-course tale we couldn’t help but share with Mudder Nation.
Here is the body of Adam’s goodbye email, word for word:
Somewhere in Texas, there is a very (very) big man. I think his name is Tim, but I've never been great with names. I guess we could call him Tiny if we wanted to be ironic. But let's stick with Tim. Tim was a Tough Mudder volunteer at the 2013 Dallas event last October. You can't ignore Tim. Hell, you can barely miss him. He's so big he gets double-takes when he steps into a room. He's the kind of person you want anchoring your tug-of-war team. You hope he's the tackle on your blind side. You suspect he might even be impervious to pain. And if you're the volunteer manager, as I was at the Dallas event, you want him on top of Everest, which is exactly where I parked Tim for five hours that Saturday.
We'll never know how many tons of Mudders Tim pulled up Everest. I checked on him a few times to make sure his right arm was still attached. By the end of the day, he had what looked to be a deep and permanent groove across his torso from where the edge of the ramp dug into his rib cage. I know how deep the groove was because he showed me, beaming from ear to ear. I thanked him for his hard work, gave him an extra volunteer meal because he was famished and asked him to check in with me after running the event the next day - which he planned to do.
That night, the rural area outside of Dallas where we were holding the event got a completely unexpected 13 feet of rain. I might be exaggerating, but not by much. The TMHQ staff considered moving the lifeguards from Walk the Plank to the base area, but decided against it. If there was one volunteer in the history of Tough Mudder who might actually be immune to the elements, it was Tim. So it was a welcome surprise to see him bounding up to the volunteer tent before his run, offering to push his start time back and help out where needed. (As a Southerner, I am conditioned to think on occasions like this: "Bless his heart.") I thanked Tim for his kind offer, but declined and told him and his wife to go kick ass on the course.
I stood in stunned silence. Tough Mudder had just saved someone's life.
A few soggy hours passed. Start line “hoorahs” to finish line headbands, a few thousand times. The next time I saw Tim, I was standing with my coworker Barry near the TMHQ field warehouse, now the deep end of what was effectively a base area swimming pool, when we saw a muddy giant making his way toward us. It looked like Kiss of Mud had come to life and was going back to its car. It was Tim, of course, covered in Texas mud, with a smile a mile wide. I high five'd him and asked him if he had a good time, and without warning the floodgates swung open. Tim started crying. Maybe it says something awful about me that I was surprised to see this guy crying, but watching anyone break down suddenly is jarring.
It turns out that, as large a man as Tim was, he was even larger a year before. To hear him tell it, he had lost the will to live. Rock bottom was beer and junk food, and listless, motionless days on his couch. The year before, he had weighed over 400 pounds, and his malaise was eroding his marriage. Then one day, he signed on to Facebook and saw that a friend had completed something called a "Tough Mudder." It looked fun, but there was no way he could run 10 miles. He could barely get off of his couch.
But Tim made a decision that day. If he was going to save his marriage, if he was going to save his life, he'd do it by training for Tough Mudder. It took Tim a year of training, training that wasn't easy. Nor was the day itself easy - it took Tim over 5 hours to finish the course. But luckily, we don’t time our events. We don't care about finish times - we only care about finishing (or better yet, setting out in the first place). Tim did what he set out to do, despite the fact that it nearly broke him. I'm not sure how old Tim is, maybe 40, but I promise you that in all his years, he had never felt a sense of accomplishment like he did that day. His wife, standing by his side, beamed as he told his story. She had stayed with him through his lowest times and now was with him at his pinnacle - his own personal Everest.
I gave Tim a muddy hug, thanked him for sharing his story, and he and his wife walked away. Barry and I stood in stunned silence. Tough Mudder had just saved someone's life.
If you’ve found Adam’s story inspiring or have a similar motivating Mudder story you’d like us to consider publishing, please write us at email@example.com.