10th AAMDC gets down and dirty at Tough Mudder

by Staff Sgt. John Zumer
10th AAMDC Public Affairs

Foreign tourists have long traveled to Scotland to soak up the sights and sounds of a country known for its lush greenery, Loch Ness, Sean Connery and ancient castles. Several representatives of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command also had an opportunity to sample the Scottish experience first-hand, but unlike most tourists, the only thing these Soldiers were getting soaked with was icy water and mud.

The five representatives of the 10th AAMDC, along with two others, formed a team that participated in Scotland’s first “Tough Mudder” competition. Described by organizers as “the toughest event on the planet,” the two-day endurance test from July 14 to 15 attracted more than 5,000 fans and competitors to the Drumlanrig Castle vicinity, near Edinburgh. 

U.S. Army Maj. Scott Hollander said the team considered itself extremely fortunate to compete after numerous flight and other travel complications.

“We flew to Scotland on Friday and our flight was delayed, so we didn’t get settled into the hotel until 1:45 a.m. on Saturday morning,” Hollander said, adding that an early wake-up call meant the team only snatched a few hours of sleep before the contest.

Besides Hollander, the team included 10th AAMDC members Maj. Manny Ortiz, Capt. Ben Wilson, 1st Lt. David Trejo and 2nd Lt. Andy Miller. They were joined by U.S. Army Sgt. Erin Genung of the 5th Quartermaster Detachment and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Garcia from Ramstein.

This was no ordinary endurance competition, however. The Tough Mudder, which traces its origins to Allentown, Pa., is an 11-mile endurance course featuring more than 20 obstacles. Designed by British Special Forces personnel, the course challenged runners with 100,000 gallons of mud, pits filled with jagged rocks, and waist-high icy swamps that left runners exhausted and shaking.

If those hazardous conditions weren’t challenging enough, competitors also had to pass through many curtains of live electrical wires dangling overhead on certain parts of the course. The amount of electricity delivered to those unfortunate enough to come into contact was similar to a cattle prod or electric fence, Hollander said.

Although many endurance runs dangle prizes and medals for competitors, the Tough Mudder prides itself on two even more important goals. First, to push mind and body to their mental and physical limits, and secondly, to foster an extremely meaningful sense of teamwork among the participants.

“The event isn’t about finishing times or winning a first place medal,” Wilson said. “Simply completing a Tough Mudder is a badge of honor that brings a great sense of pride.”

Hollander agreed.

“We all had a blast, completed the race under four hours as a team and had no serious injuries,” he said.

Proceeds from the Tough Mudder competition assist the Wounded Warrior Project. Individuals interested in learning more about the competition, including potential future events, can visit the website at http://toughmudder.com.