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Overcoming Obstacles: The Inspiring Mudder Stories from S. Florida, Poconos, Auckland & Vegas

By Matt Alesevich | 02. 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 Melbourne, LA, Arizona and NorCal, let’s meet the motivating 2014 Mudders of South Florida, Poconos, Auckland and Las Vegas.

Hector Manly - Tough Mudder South Florida Finisher

My legs were amputated in January 2001 after being severely burned in a fire in my birth country of El Salvador. A family from Ohio brought me to the United States for prosthetic legs, and by the end of the year, I had begun walking again. I was introduced to Tough Mudder in 2012 when my father completed one with his friends. Upon finishing, he said, “I bet you could do it.” That was all it took to convince me.

If I can do a Tough Mudder, so can you.

I love the fact that Tough Mudder is not a race but a personal challenge. I currently have several family members and friends in the service, and as a double amputee, it bothers me that I cannot be there serving this country alongside them. When I kayaked the Mississippi River, I chose the Wounded Warrior Project as one of the charities that I would raise funds for and ended raising $15,000 dollars, which I presented at the Central Florida event. As a double amputee, I want to show others that if I can do a Tough Mudder, so can you.

Jude Murphy - Tough Mudder Poconos Finisher

I was born with a very thin upper jaw due to a genetic disorder called ectodernal dysplasia. Three years ago, I was told that my upper jaw would collapse by the time I was 40. In order to prevent my jaw from collapsing, I had a large portion of my left fibula taken out and placed in my upper jaw. I spent a year relearning how to walk without a fibula. I wanted to be able to run, so I pushed through the pain. I don't believe in excuses, and I don't want to be someone who has them.

Nicky Latu - Tough Mudder Auckland Finisher

No one took me seriously, and I know people thought I was crazy for even attempting to do a Tough Mudder. Last year, my doctor diagnosed me with Haglund’s deformity, and I had to take time off of work because I couldn't even walk, let alone run. Further tests showed that I had osteoarthritis and a prominent dorsal spur. Despite all this, I mustered the courage and registered for Tough Mudder. I had the opportunity to have surgery to correct my Haglund’s deformity in February, but I pushed it back because I wanted to run Tough Mudder’s first New Zealand course in April. Despite the pain, I tried my best to train no less than three times per week. During training, I lost 25kg (55 pounds). My sister, Dominique, joined me on course and donated $20 toward my surgery for every obstacle I completed. I don’t know how I would've coped doing the course alone, but like the Tough Mudder Pledge says: I help my fellow Mudders complete the course. That couldn't be more true.

Oscar Escalante - Tough Mudder Las Vegas Finisher

On Jan 05, 2009 my wonderful wife, Cynthia, and I brought a beautiful little girl, Anneliesse, into this world. She was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and we both knew we were tasked with something greater than us. We slowly began to change our health habits, but in 2011, a draining Tough Mudder showed me that I was not ready to raise a child with special needs. In the years since that first Tough Mudder, I’ve made greater changes. During training, I strap Anneliesse in the stroller and take her on my runs.

Every day, I get motivated by the little miracle I have waiting for me at home.

She may not speak, but she gets her message across for me to keep on going. With every new obstacle she faces and overcomes, either in school or in everyday life, she motivates me to be a better person and to work harder, be healthier and push through those obstacles. Every day, I get motivated by the little miracle I have waiting for me at home: Anneliesse, my Tough Mudder.

Having previously featured the inspiring Mudders of Melbourne, LA, Arizona and NorCal, our month of inspiration continues tomorrow, as we highlight the motivating Mudders of London West, Atlanta, Central Texas and Kansas.