Electroshock Therapy For Fun And Fitness
So you’re thinking that your triathlons have become boring and you’re looking for something a little more demanding, something different; you crave a physical challenge that won’t be the same even if you do it again in Kentucky, or Texas or Australia? Something involving mud, barbed wire, electrocution, that sort of thing, right?
Welcome to Tough Mudder, a competition that’s beyond competition; originally designed by British Special Forces, it’s more of a team event, with members helping each other get through an 11- to 12-mile course fraught with obstacles. Requiring grit as well as athleticism, it’s not only personally rewarding to complete it, but when you cross the finish line, you’re handed a beer and ushered to a rock show.
Garth Wilson ’09 is part of a team that designs the courses and handles the logistics of getting tens of thousands of participants to and through the “premier adventure challenge series in the world,” according to their website, www.ToughMudder.com.
“I bounced around during my first two years at WAC and ended up with minors in psychology and sociology,” Wilson recalls, “but felt math would give me the best opportunity to find a good job out of school.” He also played club lacrosse but a pesky, habitually-torn ACL pretty much put an end to his athletic pastimes. He then became a gym rat, working out six days a week, spending two or three hours a day in the Johnson Fitness Center.
On finding his place with Tough Mudder he says, “My best friend from elementary school was one of the first 10 employees at Tough Mudder, working as a course manager. The company was growing so fast that they needed a second person to fulfill that role.”
He had found the right opportunity at the right time. “When I was hired, Tough Mudder was still pretty small, with about 20 employees. They were looking for motivated employees who were comfortable in a start-up environment. They didn’t have a math major in the company at that point, which seemed to draw some interest, but they were particularly interested in culture fit and potential growth. Now that Mudder is a company of more than 100 employees, there is a much more involved hiring process.”
Has Wilson run the gauntlet himself? “As employees, we are encouraged to run Tough Mudder events. Being a course manager means I am almost always working an event, making it difficult to run one. When you are responsible for getting 10,000 to 20,000 people through a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course, you can’t leave your post.”
He does recall, however, that one member of his team did just that to help another member of the Tough Mudder squad: “Two of our colleagues were running the course and got to our final obstacle, Electroshock Therapy. The obstacle consists of hundreds of live electric wires hanging from a 10-foot frame that participants have to sprint through. One of the coworkers froze and didn’t want to go through the obstacle. Another coworker, who was working the event at the time, took off her radio and cell phone. The two of them sprinted like crazy people through the obstacle, arm-in-arm. The one working the event then calmly put her radio back on, collected her phone, and went back to work.”
By T. Christian Landskroener