August 29, 2013

Team WNC Endures ‘Tough Mudder’ Event

WNCs Tough Mudder team poses for pictures before the event in July at Northstar California.
WNC's Tough Mudder team poses for pictures before the event in July at Northstar California.

A 10.5-mile, mostly uphill run at elevations more than a mile high has the makings of a tough enough event all by itself. Mix in 19 boot camp training obstacles, including carrying logs, climbing walls and crawling under barbed wire, and participants can expect a Tough Mudder.

That’s exactly what a group of Western Nevada College employees and friends decided to do in July at Northstar, Calif., near Lake Tahoe. WNC’s nine-member team included captain Shelly Bale, student center manager and Associated Students of Western Nevada adviser; Rachel Adair, disabled student services aide; Jose Quiroga, financial aid systems coordinator; Lupe Ramirez, assistant to the dean of Student Services and Latino Student Outreach coordinator; Cesar Vega, computing services programmer/analyst; Michael Hunter, student employee; Angelo Deperez, student employee; 2013 University of Nevada, Reno graduate Ivette Munoz; and Curt Chapman of Virginia City.

“It was one of the most challenging physical and mental things that I’ve done in my life,” Quiroga said. “With teamwork and determination, especially teamwork, it was doable. It gave me a great feeling of accomplishment to finish it.”

Bale reported that the entire WNC contingent made it through the demanding course together unharmed in about 6.5 hours. Since Tough Mudder doesn’t time participants, the primary goal is to finish. At least one of the team members wasn’t so sure the adventure event was for her, though.

“The entire experience of Tough Mudder was terrifying for me from the very beginning,” Adair said. “I watched the videos and read all the participant reviews and what-not and honestly thought that it would take a person with serious ‘issues’ to want to do this to themselves voluntarily ... and even pay money to do it. Oddly enough, I had this strange feeling in my gut that just told me I had to do it."

Adair said that her unified teammates inspired her to complete the intimidating obstacles and cross the finish line.

“Having that group of people, my teammates, say, ‘We're here for you, you can do this, we're in this together,’ was the most inspirational thing that could have happened,” Adair said. “Those co-workers, along with my family, became my heart and soul and driving force to get me through it. Not only does it take stamina, but it took a level of mental grit that I didn't know I had, and part of that came from knowing that there were eight other people who would be pulling for me.”

Quiroga said the support and camaraderie of Tough Mudder was completely different from the half-marathons he has run.

“They were about getting through, whereas this was about getting through as a team and even helping other people and other teams that are there,” Quiroga said. “Seeing people you work with day in and day out, it’s great to work with them in a different way and form friendships outside of work. It has really formed bonds between us that will last a long time.”

Tough Mudder obstacle courses are based on those designed by British Special Forces. Collectively, the 19 obstacle courses test the strength, endurance and mental toughness, as well as unselfishness, of participants. Before crossing the finish line, competitors were required to complete a 1,800-foot elevation gain to a high point of 8,600 feet and deal with obstacles of mud, ice, water, logs, dust and a potential 10,000-volt shock while climbing, crawling, swinging, jumping and lifting.

For safety’s sake, Bale said she didn’t attempt several of the obstacles. “Since I was unable to safely do the obstacles that required purely upper-body strength, I opted out of those,” she said.

Bale said she could always count on her teammates. “I have to admit, I was the weakest link. I went at a very slow pace, but I had the support of the team to help me through when the going got tough. It was very rewarding to be part of this team and have everyone complete this course without injury.”

Quiroga said. “With many of the obstacles, it really helped having a team because they will push you.”

To prepare for the arduous adventure, WNC’s team went for runs and hikes together and trained during their lunch breaks. There might even be more of a concerted effort put a team together next year, according to Bale.

“I definitely think there are enough interested people on campus to have an official WNC team next year,” she said. “However, it is a challenge to get everyone to commit to a regular team training schedule. I think it is important that, at some point, you train with every teammate before the event so that you can bond and discuss any health concerns, and strategize ways to overcome these.”

However, there was one part of the challenge that will require more attention next time, from Quiroga’s perspective.

“The first five miles were all uphill. I trained some (for going uphill) but not as much as I could have,” he said.

And Bale recommends that “slow pokes” like her not wait to begin training for Tough Mudder.

“Start training now for next year’s event,” Bale said. “You really need to start training about six months before the event or longer.”

After all, it is one Tough Mudder.

Press Release: August 26, 2013

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E-mail: info_desk@wnc.edu


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