Craig residents complete 2011 Tough Mudder | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig residents complete 2011 Tough Mudder

Joshua Gordon

As Steve Martinson headed down a dry ski slope June 25 in Beaver Creek, he saw people wiping out left and right.

The MoPhat Cacahuetes — a five-person team made up of Martinson, Samantha Johnston, Jeremy Ashton, KC Hume and Kevin Kernen — competed in the 2011 Tough Mudder, an event easy to fall during and one difficult to keep trudging through.

As athletes continued falling face first, Martinson, a Craig resident, said he had never seen anything like it.

"I have done a lot of different events, but nothing like this," he said of Tough Mudder. "There were heats every 20 minutes with about 300 people in each one."

Tough Mudder, a 9-mile mud run with 25 obstacle courses, is billed as "probably the toughest event on the planet."

Johnston, who lived in Craig for 10 years before moving to Denver last year, said she wanted to compete in the event, but not alone.

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"(The Tough Mudder) was one of those things that looked like fun to do," she said. "I didn't want to do it by myself and the most fit, competitive guys I knew still lived in Craig."

After recruiting Martinson and fellow Craig residents Ashton, Hume and Kernen, Johnston said they were intrigued with the event.

"They bill the race as the toughest event on the planet, and we wanted to see if it really was," she said. "We had no problems with the running portion of the course and we all had our different strengths, so we made it through all the obstacles."

Along with the obstacles, participants also had to endure a 4,250-foot elevation change.

According to the event website, the course was designed by British Special Forces to test strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.

"All the obstacles were challenging in their own unique way and had their own degree of difficulties," Hume said. "But, we were running uphill almost the entire time. Some courses straighten out and level out, but this course didn't."

Johnston said the team started the course at 9 a.m. with water hazards temping at about 37 degrees.

All the obstacles had their difficulties, Martinson said, but the water was probably the most challenging for a majority of athletes.

"The course was challenging, but I felt well prepared for all the trouble," he said. "I think the hardest part was the ice cold water. I think everyone had trouble with that."

Many of the obstacles involved climbing, crawling and swimming, Ashton said, with each obstacle having a unique challenge.

"I think each of the obstacles played on many different factors," he said. "First was physical. Second were fears because people have fears of things like being underwater. Last was mental because you have to keep pushing through at really high elevations."

Despite the appearance of many of the obstacles, Ashton said he had to agree with Martinson on the difficulty of being in the near-freezing water.

"I thought the Boa Constrictor obstacle would be hard because I am claustrophobic, but it was the Swamp Stomp that was the toughest for me," he said. "You get in and the water is freezing and it is more mentally challenging than physical because your body constricts."

As the team neared the end, the only challenge left was Electroshock Therapy, a field of live wires carrying up to 10,000 volts of shock.

Johnston said officials told athletes the shock was about five times stronger than an electric fence that contain horses.

"Your brain tells you it is a dumb idea, but you just run in," she said. "You could definitely feel it, but the finish line was right after so we had to take our punches and get it done."

After the event wrapped, the MoPhat Cacahuetes stood on the other side of the finish line having completed Tough Mudder.

"We all started together and we all finished together," Hume said. "The concept of the race is based on teamwork and camaraderie. It wasn't about who finished first, but if you finished at all."

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