It’s more fun in the mud

Published 8:03 am Friday, May 25, 2012

Column: Aaron Worm, Behind the Mic

When you run a 5k, half marathon or a full marathon, what are some of the obstacles you have to overcome? Heat? Wind? Hills? That seems like plenty to me. How about competing in a 12-mile obstacle course that includes tires, walls, electric shock and lots of mud?

Aaron Worm

That’s called the Tough Mudder competition.

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Team YMCA of Albert Lea, sponsored by the Motor Inn, competed in the event last weekend, in Somerset, Wis.

The team included Keri Stadheim, Heather Benda, Susie Hulst, Jill Jensen, Jessica Baaken, Mike Funk, Weston Hulst, Chad Hacker, Troy Irvine and Bill Villarreal.

It’s an event that is held all over in the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Australia.

According to their website,, the obstacle course was put together by British special forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.

Money raised from the event goes to the Wounded Warriors Project to support thousands of military personal returning from the battlefield.

So far Tough Mudder has raised more than $3 million dollars for the project.

The event in Somerset included about 24 different obstacles. Obstacles included jumping over logs, running through tires, climbing over walls and maneuvering through mud and ice cold water. I talked to Keri Stadheim about the event, and she said the overall experience was cool, awesome and that she would definitely do it again.

Stadheim said the event wasn’t a race, it wasn’t timed and depended on team work to complete the course.

“It’s a mental challenge, you really have to go into the event thinking that you can do all the events, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to finish,” Stadheim said.

The average competitor completes the course in three to four hours, but Stadheim and two other members of Team YMCA finished in less than three hours.

“You have to have endurance, and good team work, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to finish,” Stadheim said.

On two obstacles the competitors had to deal with electric shock wires.

“One obstacle, I was in ice water going underneath barb wire with electric shocks hanging from the wires,” Stadheim said. “You had to respect those because if you got hit once, you were not going to get hit again.”

Stadheim was hit once by an electric shock wire, and said she was disoriented for about 30 seconds. And here I am worried about how tough it is going to be for me to run in a couple of 5k runs this summer.

Running has always been considered a mentally tough sport, but you throw things like artic cold water, mud and electric shocks into the equation, and you raise that toughness a 100 notches. Congratulations to Team Albert Lea Family Y, for competing and raising money to help those that served their respective countries.

And did I mention that Villerreal is 57? Everyone on Team YMCA deserves the title of Tough Mudders.


KATE Radio Sports Director Aaron Worm’s column appears every week in the Tribune. He can be heard from 6 to 11 a.m. weekdays on The Breeze.