Fair Lawn High Women Are 'Tough Mudders' [Video]
High School faculty members ran through fire, swam through ice and wriggled under barbed wire to conquer grueling special forces obstacle course.
On May 12 in Pocono Manor, Pa., 10 female Fair Lawn High School faculty members trekked 12.5 miles and tamed 25 outlandish obstacles to complete one mind-blowingly memorable challenge.
Along the way, the women ran through fire, swam through ice, trudged through mud, wriggled under barbed wire, plunged off precipices, tolerated 10,000 volts of electric ecstasy and captured it all on helmet cam.
“It far exceed anything I could have imagined,” one of the brave finishers said after her first Tough Mudder experience. “It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”
Tough Mudder events, the first of which was held in May 2010, send thousands of participants through a 10-plus mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test the runners’ strength, stamina and mental toughness. Participant entry fees support the Wounded Warrior Project, whose mission is to aid and assist injured military service members returning from battle.
Tough Mudder separates itself from other extreme obstacle course companies in its emphasis on teamwork. Before starting each event, participants are asked to recite the Tough Mudder pledge, which begins, “I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.”
In fact, the Tough Mudder challenge – which took the team about six hours to complete -- isn’t even timed. Instead, the goal is to leave no one behind and ensure that all fellow Tough Mudders complete the course.
“That’s why I enjoyed this race the best,” said physical education teacher Teresa Mielnicki, who has also run in the Warrior Dash and Spartan Race. “This is not about the time. It’s teaching you about teamwork and team camaraderie, working together. Everybody helps each other out.”
The merry band of Tough Cutters -- as they proudly call themselves -- began training together in February, although many had been preparing on their own as far back as November.
In addition to studying game film (i.e. YouTube videos of other Tough Mudders who had dared to go before them), the Tough Cutters carried railroad ties, logs, cinderblocks and tires, climbed cargo nets, practiced military low crawls, took cold showers and even spent a lunch period swinging outside on the monkey bars as part of their own Tough Mudder boot camp.
Early on, the team -- which was drawn from different academic departments and possessed varying levels of athletic ability and experience -- hardly knew one another. By the end of their grueling experience together, the Tough Cutters knew each other better than they ever thought they would.
“We just shared the common bond of all liking to work out and being willing to try crazy things, and so it really became a team building thing,” Tough Cutter special education teacher Nicole Mattina said. “It was a really nice event in getting to know your co-workers better, for sure.”
A majority of the current team along with some new faculty reinforcements plan to challenge themselves with another Tough Mudder next year.
Some students, who must be 18 years old to participate, have also expressed interest.
"I don’t want to say we inspired them," Tough Cutter english teacher Gina Monahan said of her students, "but I think it sort of gives them an idea of what they’re capable of. If you really push yourself and conquer your fears, you can do anything."