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Tough Mudder obstacle course tests physical limits

By by jennifer preyss/
Jan. 18, 2012 at 9 a.m.
Updated Jan. 17, 2012 at 7:18 p.m.

Anthony Musser, standing, and Cory Roblard build an obstacle course in Edna for the Tough Mudder event at the Brackenridge Main Event Center. The 12-mile course is designed by British Special Forces and involves swimming through ice water and 10,000 volts of electricity, among other challenges.

Jared and Denise Tomanek were looking for some good, clean, spousal fun when they signed up for Tough Mudder a few weeks ago.

But to have fun at an event coined the toughest obstacle course in the world, the Tomaneks and their team - The Bone Crushin' Ballerinas - will have to get dirty.

"I know we're going to be covered in mud when we're done," said 34-year-old Victoria resident, Denise Tomanek, discussing the 10- to 12-mile obstacle course.

The Tough Mudder obstacle courses are erected in six countries, and designed by British Special Forces - not as a race, but a challenge.

Built with underground mud tunnels, freezing water, fire pits, 12-foot walls, and a 10,000-volt electrical wiring, Tough Mudder is designed to test the limits of human strength and stamina.

On Jan. 28 and 29, at the Brackenridge Recreation Complex in Edna, hundreds of eager "mudders" are slated to test their own physical limits - and the Tomaneks are thrilled to participate alongside them.

"We have a good team; they're all going to do well," Jared Tomanek, 34, said, mentioning his Bone Crushin' crew of three men and eight women.

With about a week to go before the race, the Tomaneks are approaching the challenge from two unparalleled perspectives: Denise, a competitive marathon runner, is challenging herself to brave every obstacle; while Jared simply wants to have fun and finish the race.

"I'm not really training for it," Jared said. "I'm going to have fun . It's a solidarity thing."

But that's not to say he's not worried about some of the obstacles.

"The ice pit, I think, will be the most shocking one to me, which is ironic considering there really is an obstacle that shocks you," he said.

Another Mudder, Shelton Grona, of Edna, is also signed up to compete in Tough Mudder next weekend.

Grona, who hasn't entered a competitive race event since high school track more than 20 years ago, said he's determined to finish the race.

"I'm a little reluctant, but excited at the same time," said the 40-year-old, a member of team Eclipse with his brother Wesley Atkinson, sister-in-law Tammy Atkinson, and nephew Conley Atkinson. "I could come in dead last and wouldn't care as long as I finish."

Grona said he thought his brother was certifiable when he invited him to sign up for the race a few weeks ago. But since registering, the brothers have been encouraged to get fit, and get ready.

"I have a pulled calf muscle, but I don't care. I'm going to finish," Grona said. "I can barely walk, but we're going to be there one way or another. I am going to do it."

More than a half million worldwide Mudders have shared Grona's dedication to complete the race. Proceeds from the event are donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. To date, more than $2 million has been donated to the cause.

Grona said the Tough Mudder collaboration with the Wounded Warriors Project is the best part of the race.

"It's easy to sit back and relax and take your life for granted. But when you think about where the money is going, that makes the race worth it," Grona said.



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