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Overcoming Obesity and Negativity: 4 Athletes Who Turned Their Scars into Stars

By Matt Alesevich | 04. 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 London West, Atlanta, Central Texas, Kansas, let’s meet the motivating 2014 Mudders of Chicago, Ohio, New England and Nashville.

Gaby Martinez - Tough Mudder Chicago Finisher

My very first life memory is being insecure and chubby. I was the fat kid in grade school and high school. Junior year of high school I decided to starve myself in order to lose weight, but my insecurities were always in the back of my head no matter what I did. I reached my heaviest at 25. I was 330 pounds. Around this time, my husband left me with our three-year-old son, and I was more hopeless, heavy and alone then ever. Everything changed on Thanksgiving 2008 when my aunt decided to have a small intervention. She told me my eating was going to end my life, and I needed to think of my son.

Tough Mudder has really made me feel like I’m someone who matters.

Her talked opened my eyes, and the very next day, I decided to go for a one-hour walk. I did that every day for a month and lost 20 pounds. I joined a gym, and one year later 130 pounds were gone. In October 2010, I ran my first marathon. During my marathon training, I came across Tough Mudder on Facebook and my jaw dropped. I didn’t know when or how I’d complete one, but I put it on my bucket list and knew I would do one in my lifetime. In May 2013 I did it. In May 2014 I did it again. From being 330 pounds to going for my third Tough Mudder is amazing, and I’m really proud of myself. Tough Mudder has really made me feel like I’m someone who matters.
[Read Gaby’s full story.]

Brittany Stoops - Tough Mudder Ohio Finisher

I have been battling lung cancer since I was 16. I was told I would not live to see my nineteenth birthday. Today, I am 26. I was told that, due to toxins in my body, I could never have children. Today, I have a baby girl. I was told my lungs needed to be taken out. Today, I have two lungs. I am a living example that doctors are sometimes wrong. I’ve been in remission nine times in 10 years, but I’m stubborn and pig-headed. I will not bow or break. I’ll continue to do these events if it takes me 12 hours to get through the course. There is no “can’t” in the Stoops Dictionary.

Benjamin Bromfield - Tough Mudder New England Finisher

Two years ago, I weighed 370 pounds. I was a smoker, had high blood pressure and was a Type 2 diabetic. The only exercise I ever got was going from the couch to the cupboard to grab another bag of Cheetos. I hated accompanying my wife and kids at outings because I felt like a sideshow spectacle. I was so out of shape that I stayed home when my wife and kids went on walks because I couldn’t keep up with them. I lost 14 pounds to qualify for gastric bypass surgery and then 14 pounds turned to 34 pounds. I remembered a TV show I saw about Tough Mudder, and then it hit me. I could lose the weight on my own. I canceled the surgery and started training by walking a mile a day. Then two. Then three. Then five. Tough Mudder became my goal and I kept my eyes on the prize. Today, I’m down to 244 pounds. I no longer have high blood pressure and my diabetes is almost a thing of the past. I’m now one of the most active people I know. Before Tough Mudder, I was morbidly obese. Now I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.

Bethany Lyon - Tough Mudder Nashville Finisher

A month into college, I tore my ACL and MCL playing rugby. No longer being able to work out and be as active as I wanted fueled my depression, my eating disorder and my self-harming behavior that I had been keeping secret for the past five years. My first Tough Mudder was my “debut” back into the world of fitness after my recovery.

When I crossed the finish line, something inside me clicked.

The camaraderie of the event spoke to me as soon as I stepped on the course. When I crossed the finish line, something inside me clicked. I developed a sense of self-worth. After finishing, I walked straight to the trailer that was giving Tough Mudder tattoos and jumped up on the table to get one. I am now a year and a half in recovery from my disorders. This event changed me mentally and physically. Tough Mudder helped me realize that I am worth something.

Having previously featured the inspiring Mudders of London West, Atlanta, Central Texas, Kansas, our month of inspiration continues Monday, as we highlight the motivating Mudders of Scotland, Virginia, Whistler and UK-Midlands.