It was a just a few short months ago that a friend asked if I had ever heard of the Tough Mudder. He explained that he was going to be on a team with some local sports celebrities and thought it might be a good opportunity for OnCore to sponsor the team. The local sports celebrities included former Buffalo Sabres Jay McKee, Matthew Barnaby and Rory Fitzpatrick. In addition, the greatest boxer to come out of Buffalo, Baby Joe Mesi was on the team as well. The rest of the team consisted of friends of theirs that I would come to learn were just all around great guys! The idea of sponsoring a team with these athletes that I watched play and fight religiously was exciting. You see, in Buffalo being a fanatic of local teams and athletes is somewhat of a religion for most so to be involved in any way with these guys was something I wanted to take full advantage of!
We agreed that we would sponsor the team and that all the guys would wear OnCore apparel and help promote us through their social media reach. It was something we were excited to be involved in and to be perfectly frank….glad we were not competing in ourselves. That was short-lived as I got a call from McKee asking if Steve and I wanted to compete on the team with them as well. How do you turn down an athlete you have watched play for years? Simple answer….you don’t! The next step was to familiarize ourselves with exactly what the Tough Mudder was. I immediately went on the website and realized what I had just gotten myself into. It was going to be 12 miles of running up and down mud covered hills while also enjoying 20 obstacles devised by special forces. Obstacles that include swimming through tanks filled with ice which is known as “Arctic Enema”, crawling on rocks with your face in the mud called “kiss of mud”, carrying a teammate on your back through mud known as “Warrior Carry” or everyone’s personal favorites, “Electric Eel” and “Electroshock Therapy.” Those last two involve hundreds of hanging live wires packed with 10,000 volts that you are either swimming through mud as they shock you and then running through an unavoidable barrage of them to cross the finish line. It was then that I realized that this was a pretty serious challenge but both Steve and became excited about the opportunity to put our “Balls of Steel” slogan into action in a very tangible way!
It’s 12pm on Saturday July 27th that we meet the whole team for the first time. We gather in downtown Buffalo, NY to take our 2 hour bus trip to Andover, NY where the course has been planted for the next two days. We have a team full of former pro athletes and guys that are in good shape all covering their bodies in Icy Hot patches, BenGay, knee and elbow wraps and whatever else you can imagine to help with pain and soreness that hasn’t even started yet. We joked about how we felt a bit like a group of geriatrics with all these preventative remedies. Due to a few wrong turns by our driver we ended up being late and had to run a mile just to get to the check in before we could even start the 12 mile Mudder marathon. We ended up being the very last team to start the challenge but were just happy they let us in.
There we were, 12 men all donning our OnCore shirts and excited to start because the sooner we started….the sooner it ended and we could treat ourselves to a few frosty ones on the bus ride back. The conditions were horrible due to an entire day of people running through the slop. In addition to that, it decided to start pouring rain as if this wasn’t going to be tough enough. Soon the excitement and adrenalin kicked in as our bodies knew it had to “bring it” in order to get through this. With our shoes being covered in 2 pounds of mud, our bodies scraped and bruised and our muscles beginning their descent into a world of aches and cramps we pushed on. In fact, we pushed on intensely and took pride in all the teams we were passing. We were passing teams that started an hour earlier than us. We caught our stride, got our swag and surprisingly had an absolute blast! At the 2 hour and 40 minute mark we had run 12 miles, completed 19 obstacles and had only about 20 yards and hundreds of live wires to bully through and cross the finish line. I was equipped with a GoPro camera for the whole course and the last bit of footage needed was of the our team completing this challenge together. We charged the wires and crossed the finish line where Tough Mudder representatives gave us our headbands, t-shirts and a nice cold Dos Equis to congratulate our accomplishment.
So what exactly is the Tough Mudder? Why did we put ourselves through this? Well…..the Tough Mudder is designed to build comradery amongst your team, challenge your mind and body and get you as dirty as you have ever been in your life! The sense of accomplishment upon completion is something that will last far longer than the minutes, hours and days post Mudder. It is an opportunity that everyone who participates takes to prove something to themselves and to push their bodies to the limit for a few hours. For us….well, we needed to prove to ourselves and to everyone who will listen that Team OnCore does indeed have Balls of Steel!