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Monday Motivation: 4 Everyday People Who Overcame Extraordinary Odds

By Matt Alesevich | 15. 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 Sunshine Coast, Tahoe, Toronto and UK-South West, let’s meet the motivating Mudders of the Great Northeast, Colorado, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), and Alberta.

Jessica Rasmusson - Tough Mudder Great Northeast Finisher

I have suffered from depression and self-image issues as long as I can remember. I became bulimic and always thought I could look better, thinner or prettier. Eventually I turned to alcohol, and my self-image, health and relationships only worsened. A year and a half ago I decided to begin lifting weights and focusing on building a stronger me, rather than a thinner one.

Once I crossed that finish line, I knew there was no going back.

I felt like I was on the right path, but something was missing. Then I was invited to join a friend’s Tough Mudder team. Training for and completing Tough Mudder changed my life. Once I crossed that finish line, I knew there was no going back. Since then, I have participated in a number of races and events and have opened myself up to new experiences. Thanks to Tough Mudder, I have finally begun to find myself and realize that my existence isn’t based on a body image but on the life I give my body and mind. It’s been a long, strenuous journey to get to this point, but I no longer regret any part of my past and cannot wait to gain more positive experiences.

Ali Shack - Tough Mudder Colorado Finisher

I'm a 28-year-old widowed mother of a little fellow named Brady. We lost our hero, husband and daddy, Drew, unexpectedly in June 2013. Drew was anticipating his third Tough Mudder in Colorado this past September. To him, Tough Mudder symbolized that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and the courage and strength in others. It was because of Drew’s courage that I was filled with the strength to participate in his place at Tough Mudder Colorado. I’m a 95-pound untrained, broken woman, but the whole of Mudder Nation, friends and family took me under their wings to help guide, encourage and lead me to one of the most amazing accomplishments of my lifetime. [Read Ali's full story.]

Björn Könemann - Tough Mudder North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Finisher

In 1997 I had a car crash and ended up in the hospital with a broken neck. The doctors thought I wouldn't make it. After a recovery, I had another setback. I received a diagnosis that my spinal cord was blocking the flow of spinal fluid. The surgery was high-risk, so I decided against surgery and fought back. In early 2014 I heard about Tough Mudder NRW, and I decided to develop my own training program to overcome my mental and physical barriers. My friends and I set-up team "Mudderhead" and everyone joined my training routine.

The team spirit I felt out on course was different than anything I ever felt before.

Training for Tough Mudder took my motivation to a whole new level. Before TM NRW I had not only overcome my physical injury but felt fitter and better than ever before. Running the event was the best experience I ever had. The team spirit I felt out on course was different than anything I ever felt before. I don't like to share my private life in public, but I want to share my story so that everyone knows that they can do whatever they want to do and that they are stronger than they think. [Germany to English translation by David Gordon.]

Jenn Surkovic - Tough Mudder Alberta Finisher

When I was 23 years old, I was experiencing crippling back pain and eventually got diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a disease like arthritis that attacks my lower back and hip joints. My spine was beginning to fuse together and that was going to continue until I had a hunchback, all while causing excruciating pain. Six years and two children later, I’m tired of letting pain keep me from enjoying things I used to, such as running and exercising. Tough Mudder was the perfect chance to prove to myself that this disease does not define me and that I could conquer whatever I want to. My team was fantastic. I was the last of my group to get through each obstacle, but I got there. I kept going. Halfway through, I could barely lift my legs to walk, but I refused to let that stop me.

Having previously featured the inspiring Mudders of Sunshine Coast, Tahoe Toronto and UK-South West, our month of inspiration continues tomorrow, as we highlight the motivating Mudders of Wisconsin, UK-North West, Perth and Utah..

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