Who is the toughest mudder of them all?
A local team of Matt Bakke, Scott Curtis, Chris Gould and Dustin Wilson is heading to Toronto this weekend to prove exactly how tough they are. Dubbed The Pain Train, the team is heading to Tough Mudder, an extreme obstacle course originally designed by the British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit and above all, camaraderie.
The team is perhaps the most important part of getting through the 10- to 12-mile course. It is said the 19-obstacle course can't be completed alone, in part because everyone needs a helping hand to pull them over a wall, and when your spirits dip because you're stuck in mud or ice-cold water, it takes a teammate to get you pumped back up again.
“There’s no way you could do it by yourself because there’s quarter pipes that you need somebody to boost you and another guy to give you a hand,” said Wilson. “You kind of gotta go as a team.”
“It’s not about beating everyone else,” said Gould. “They promote teamwork and helping everybody to get to the finish.”
Curtis made it clear their team is there to have fun, not to get too stressed about the challenge.
“We aren’t breaking any land speed records,” he said.
“We’re gonna stick together as a group and make sure we do all finish,” added Wilson. “There’s some (obstacles) where it says right on there that if you aren’t comfortable … swimming up to 50 yards then just go to the next one.”
He said there aren’t 20-foot walls around an obstacle that force everyone to complete each one. If there is an obstacle you don’t want to complete, it can simply be avoided.
“They said there’s no cheating. If you can’t do something, or don’t want to, just go around it. You’re doing it for yourself, not for anybody else,” said Gould.
Wilson said this event will hopefully be a trial run to see how much they like it. He said there is an event next summer in Calgary, and if this first one goes well, they may plan on attending that one as well. Wilson is already optimistic about whether they will like it or not.
“I’d imagine that it’s going to be something we enjoy,” he said. “I heard about it from one of my buddies. He kind of showed me the video of it, and I think everyone, when they see that initial video, they kind of get pumped to do it. I got excited for it, and then I convinced another guy.”
They were going to go as a team of six, but they’ve slipped back to four who will take on the course in a field near Barrie.
“It looks like a lot of fun, but then you think about it and wonder if you’re actually going to make it,” added Gould.
“It looks like a lot of running, but they said you don’t have to be a marathon runner to do it,” said Wilson. “There’s a lot of stopping and bottlenecks at certain things where only a couple of people can get through it at a time.”
“I’m looking forward to them bottlenecks,” added Curtis.
The Tough Mudder challenge is just that: a challenge. It's not a race. The spirit of the event isn't to beat anybody. Because of the nature of the obstacles, the feeling of accomplishment comes from just crossing the finish line, no matter how long it takes.
“My main goal was I wanted it to be fun, not be dragging myself across this thing and wanting to quit,” said Wilson. “As far as training, it’s maybe given us some motivation to go to the gym and go for a run.”
The final obstacle is ominously called electroshock therapy, and it's pretty self-explanatory. Open wires dangle above participants' heads waiting to give off 10,000 volts of electricity. It probably doesn't need to be said, but that's what The Pain Train team is looking forward to the least.
“Mentally, it’s just about making yourself do it, because it’s so easy to just say ‘screw this’,” added Gould. “You have to just push yourself.”
“That one seems pretty intense to be running through that,” added Wilson.
They’ve all watched clips of tough mudders running through that final obstacle and they said the shock does knock people to the ground.
If they go again, they’d like to get more people involved, adding to The Pain Train team.
“It’s kind of like people get into it, and it’s just something that they do every year. I kind of hope that’s the way that we take it,” said Wilson. “We’ll probably make that decision after next weekend.”
Gould said with a laugh that lots of people want to go next year. They may just be waiting for their friends’ reassurances before they jump all the way in.
Tough Mudder also raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports soldiers who return from a tour of duty.
To see exactly what The Pain Train team is going to be doing, check out toughmudder.com