This is Pastor Tim’s newspaper article published in the Evening Leader on June 28, 2021
On June 19, I went up to Michigan to do a Tough Mudder. This event was a 10-mile obstacle course held in a stone quarry. It had 25 obstacles, and I am proud to say that I passed them all but 2. Not bad for an old man! It only took me a couple of Ibuprofen to get me feeling better. I had a great time, and I love doing these events because it gives me a chance to meet weird people who are wired like I am.
One thing that Tough Mudder always does before the start is they have a motivational speaker explain that what we are doing that day is a challenge not a race. Everyone crosses the starting line as teammates not competitors. I had the chance to meet people from all over the country. I boosted a couple of guys from Indiana over a wall, gave a hand up out of a mud pit to a group of people from Michigan, and carried a woman from Seattle a tenth of a mile on my back for the hero carry. It is a great event that is absolutely dedicated to teamwork and comradery.
But one of the coolest things that Tough Mudder does is we always face the flag and sing the Star Spangled Banner before the event takes off. We all sang along with a recording by LeAnn Rimes, and while she did a much better job than most of we tone deaf mudders did, it was a great unifying moment where we remembered that we are all united under the Stars and Stripes.
I interacted with people from many different walks of life at this event, and we were all unified in getting every single participant across the finish line. As much as I love the physical, mental, and emotional challenge of the event, my favorite part is the fact that I am out there in the field with hundreds of others who are pushing to the same goal not in competition with me, but alongside of me. There is lots of cheering and encouragement. There is always having someone having trouble to boost up and someone there to push or pull to get a fellow mudder through a pit or over a wall.
I know that a 10-mile obstacle course is not for everyone, but I wish more people could have an experience like this. I fear we are losing what it means to be a part of a team. So many of us are in it for ourselves so we invest the bare minimum as far as effort, or we leave the team behind to go on for personal gain. The stories I have from Tough Mudder Michigan are more about the people I helped along the way than about any personal conquests I accomplished. The woman from Seattle told me that this was her first Tough Mudder and that she had worked hard to lose quite a bit of weight to prepare for being there. I congratulated her on her success and thanked her for losing the weight (remember, I was carrying her on my back at the time.)
My big take away from Tough Mudder Michigan was the joy and sense of accomplishment of being a part of a team. There is something infinitely satisfying about working hard so a team can win. Our selfish and narcissistic culture has taken from that joy of teamwork away from us today. Don’t get me wrong, I have repeatedly thanked God for allowing and enabling me to do an event like this. But my greatest take away is being involved with the Tough Mudder community.
Not everything in life needs to be a competition. Sure, nothing wrong with some healthy competition, but the killer instinct to win at all costs robs you of the teamwork and satisfaction of winning together with those on your side. If you don’t mind a shameless plug, we at Wayne Street UMC would love to have you on our team. We don’t run 10 miles through a stone quarry or slide in the mud under barbed wire, but we do tackle projects together to promote the name of Jesus and make St Marys an even better place. If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, we look forward to having you on our team.
I am heading back out to take a run down the tow path and throw some tires around my back yard. Tough Mudder Indiana is coming up on July 31…