This probably is already incredibly obvious, but I am ridiculously tough. I am one of those people that really just annihilates whatever comes my way. Well, maybe not exactly be true. But, I have now officially completed the Tough Mudder 3 times! So, that definitely counts for something.

Tough Mudder is a 10+ mile race with 20+ obstacles. There are different events all over the country and the courses are all different, but challenging in their own way. (Here’s what our course looked like.)

Last week my brother, Stetson, and I spent a full week in Tahoe. It was our first time visiting and we completely loved it. We spent the entire time camping, did some back packing, but the original reason that prompted us to make the trip was the Tough Mudder. I will be doing posts about the rest of the trip in the near future. This post is going to focus on the Tough Mudder.

The Tough Mudder has gotten increasingly popular in the last few years. And rightly so, it is such a fun event that supports a wonderful cause. The Tough Mudder is a major supporter of The Wounded Warrior Project. The money raised for this organization goes to supporting service members who return from duty with either mental or physical injuries. And what I really appreciate about this event in particular, is that they bring the charity to the forefront of the event. The charity is a main focus, not just a sidenote.

Stets and me after our first Tough Mudder.
Stets and me after our first Tough Mudder.

Another reason, why the Tough Mudder is extra special to me is that a group of us participated in the Tough Mudder just the second year that is was around. Which also happened to be the year that my step-mom was on a 400 day deployment to Kuwait. That year our entire team followed the American theme.

Team America for our second Tough Mudder.
Team America for our second Tough Mudder.

TM GirlsSo, the first two times that Stetson and I participated in the Tough Mudder were in Beaver Creek, Colorado. We did it with a group of buddies from college. We all drove down together, stayed at the resort, ran our 10+ miles, limped to dinner, and then ate a ridiculous amount of food to cancel out all of our physical activity. Well, I am have put more emphasis on the eating insane amounts of food than others. One year there was a special “Tough Mudder Burger.” Myself, and two other male friend in our group ordered it. One ate half. The other finished, but got sick later. I ate the entire thing and helped finish the first guy’s fries. I’m pretty impressive.

Back to the race though. We did two Tough Mudders back-to-back years at Beaver Creek. Then, as more of us began graduating and moving it was kind of one of those things that just got phased out. But, it is an incredible event to do with your friends. There’s a sense of comredery that is unavoidable when you do something like this together. We had varying levels of fitness heading into it, but we all completed the whole thing together. It sounds cheesy, but it’s something that can’t be described. Having that teamwork is so important. Tough Mudder works really hard to emphasize that the Tough Mudder is NOT a race, but a challenge that you need teamwork and support to complete.

So, when Stetson suggested we try one this year as a pair I was up for it, but a bit nervous. There are definitely some obstacles from the first two that I vividly remember needing help from more than one of our team members. Specifically, any wall-climbing or run-up-this-ramp-and-jump thing. The best way I can describe what goes through my head during those obstacles is: “I’m running, I’m running, I need to jump, oh s*#t what are my arms doing, someone grab me!” Really athletic stuff.

But, it turns out we completely tore it up as a pair! Of course, we had to first master the art of making a joke to everyone we met about us not dating, to get that awkward conversation out of the way. Once, that was done, we were off and running. Literally. (Solid pun= check!)

Before we get on the course there is a warm-up guy, Coach. He wears aviators, has a killer mustache, AND the best 70s style coaching shorts around. Stets was insanely jealous. They play some pump-up music, go over some safety tips, and give you some time to stretch out. But, really it’s a lot of jumping around and getting excited. Then, they send you over to the starting line, and while Coach is fun and gets you super amped for the course, the next speaker is unbelievable. This guy brings everything back into focus. He reminds everyone that we are in this for comradery, and reminds us about The Wounded Warrior Project and supporting our troops. The same man has done this for each Tough Mudder I have been to, and the way that he can command and inspire a crowd is outstandingly impressive. Then it’s time to hit the trail! And good ol’ Tahoe decided to start with an unbelievably steep climb straight up one of the ski slopes…

Not exaggerating, that start uphill was probably the most difficult part for me. I lost a bit of my oomph climbing that thing. But, being the finely-tuned-machine that I am, I bounced right back. The funny thing with this course, is that it may seem like the over-20 obstacles including: electrical shock, log carry, mud pits, and menthol gas, would be the daunting part, but I find those to be a fun break. I really start to look forward to all of the obstacles (Arctic Enima included…). Some of these I was able to just power through: crawling under barbed wires through mud, jumping off a ledge into freezing cold water, and squeezing my way through a claustrophobic, little tube. Others definitely required Stetson, or even a whole team. And this was something that was unexpected, and super neat: we kept running into two pairs throughout the entire course that worked perfectly to help us through those team obstacles. We got to chat as we waited for water. We carried a log and used it to climb over a wall. We would each start running once we saw the other pair jogging along. So, the six of us (a couple from Chicago and a pair of buddies from California) became a sort-of-mini-team, while still getting to complete the course as pairs.

Making our way through Elctro- Shock Therapy. We each got hit. Stetson’s was pretty darn good.

Of course, I can’t forgot to mention the obstacles that I attempted and completely failed, namely anything monkey-bar related. I swear each time my goal is to get like 3 rungs into it… and each time I drop of the first rung. It’s ridiculous. But, I still try! As embarrassingly quick as the attempt may be, then I fall straight into whatever muddy-watery-sweat-filled-pit is waiting below.

After finishing, Stetson and I got our free beer! And headed to sit in the Truckee River and remove just a bit of the mud before beginning our week of camping and backpacking. Now, not to take anything away from the other Tough Mudders we did as a group, but finishing this course with Stetson and I as a sibling team was really cool. Stetson and I have always been super-close; he’s been my go-to person forever. Most people that we were able to talk to that day were so impressed that we were doing this as brother and sister. I must say I feel pretty special to have Stetson as such a close friend. It seems to me that there are lots of sister-sister things out there, or brother-brother things, but brother-sister is kind of no-man’s-land. So, I think we kick butt for sticking as a team and doing this.

And kuddos to him for getting my lazy-routine-loving-self there.

Thanks for reading,


  • Brittney

    Loved this post Syd! I bet Tahoe was an amazing venue for such a cool event. Brings me back to the good ol’ days.