Airmen strive to be the best they can be every day while emulating the Air Force core value — excellence in all we do. A group of Airmen from the 86th Dental Squadron did exactly that at the Mudless Mudder July 21 as they crossed the finish line dead last.
The Mudless Mudder is a 5-kilometer race planned and hosted by volunteers from the 86 Airlift Wing consisting of obstacles that test strength, agility and resilience. For team Tooth Slothy, it’s a race for last place among 80 or more teams.
“Let’s just be the slowest there is,” said Staff Sgt. Katrina Ruleau, 86 DS orthodontics NCO in charge, recalling the first time her team decided to run the Mudder. “We were just slugging through the whole thing and it was so much fun.”
While being the slowest may seem easy, for Tooth Slothy it had its challenges.
“People don’t think it’s a competition, but it is,” said Ruleau. “In 2015 when I did it, we had people that were just stopping in the woods standing around waiting for people to pass them, and we thought that was boring. So we would have a little picnic and cheer on other teams passing through. We just made it more fun.”
With a whopping time of 3 hours and 20 minutes, this is the fourth year Ruleau’s team won the last place trophy for the Mudder, and it was all for the sake of fun.
“We never get out of work,” she explained. “In patient care, you’re tied to that chair. You have a patient every hour the whole day except for lunch. We don’t get a whole lot of opportunity to get out of here and go do things and have fun.”
Ruleau said it also helps with her position as an NCO.
“This is a big clinic, so I don’t necessarily get to see my Airmen as often as I want to,” she said. “This is my chance to really get to be around them and get to know them as people. And if you know your people, you care more. So when it comes down to making a supervisory decision that could impact them for better or worse, I know them a little bit better, and I know what they would appreciate.”
Senior Airman Jessica Slatt, 86 DS dental assistant and Tooth Slothy teammate, said the Mudder builds camaraderie between her peers.
“Our morale is top notch right now,” Slatt said. “Our little team, we’re pretty close knit. I wasn’t expecting it to be fun, but it was a lot of fun, and we got the job done at the same time.”
As dental assistants, working with patients gave them the patience they needed to score last place.
“Sometimes you get into a tooth and you think it’s just going to be a filling, but then all of a sudden it’s a root canal — a two hour procedure,” Ruleau said. “It gives you the patience to be like, ‘Well we’ve been out in the woods for two hours; we can do another hour!’”
For Ruleau, with patience comes resilience.
“Maybe things aren’t going your way, maybe you’re having the worst week, month or year ever. That kind of patience ties into resiliency,” Ruleau said. “Yes, it might suck right now. Today may be the worst day ever, but maybe tomorrow somebody will come along and completely change your whole day. As long as you have the patience to wait for it, it’ll come along eventually.”
Tooth Slothy plans on keeping their title as the slowest team.
“If there’s any challengers for next year, we’ll take you on,” Slatt said. “We’ll be here!”