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Injury sidelines Toughest Mudder

By Taylor Mitchell
Nov. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.

Abel Gonzalez, 20, a junior at UHV from Victoria, is training for the upcoming national Tough Mudder extreme obstacle course event in New Jersey Nov. 17 and 18. To train for the 10-12 mile event designed by former members of the British Special Forces, Gonzalez trains every Sunday, sprinting up the parking garage stairs several times, often carrying about 25 pounds in weight, as well as doing lunges and other exercises.

TOUGHEST MUDDER FACTS

• Where: Raceway Park, N.J.

•  Number of obstacles: 34

•  Distance: 10 miles

• Male winner: Junyong Pak, Beverly, Mass. (9 laps, 25:21.58)

• Female Winner: Amelia Boone, Chicago (9 laps, 25:30.54)

• Team Winner: Nine Inch Males, Stanhope, N.J. (6 laps)

As Abel Gonzalez came to the finish line for the second time at the Toughest Mudder competition in New Jersey this past weekend he heard the leader was resting.

Competitors at the national competition run the course as many times possible over a 24 hour period and are allowed to stop at the end of each lap. So, with the leader not on the course, Gonzalez knew this was a chance to gain ground.

"I knew if I wanted to move into first now was the time," siad Gonzalez, who was running in the top 50 at the time.

After taking a quick break to change out of his wetsuit and grabbing some gear for the nighttime part of the race, Gonzalez took off on his third lap around the Tough Mudder course.

Gonzalez ran into a branch during one of the sections of the course that hurt his knee forcing him to exit the race.

"It was bruised and swollen," he said. "I tried to finish and was able to go up the vert ramp obstacle, but wasn't able to run anymore after that. It wasn't worth injuring it more."

Before the injury, Gonzalez said he was able to keep a good pace throughout the course. The wetsuit he wore helped him go through certain obstacles like the electro-shock therapy section and the ice showers helped a little bit with the water portions of the course.

Overall, the Victoria native completed two laps with a time of two hours, 27 minutes and five seconds in the first lap and 3:16.56 in the second.

"You're swimming in freezing cold water," Gonzalez explained. "You swim 200 meters down and back and then another part has you dip your body completely under water."

The most challenging obstacle wasn't anything complex or crazy. Rather it was just a tire, albeit a big one.

"It killed your calves," Gonzalez said. "If you wanted to catch up, that was a good place to do it. It was definitely the hardest part because it took a lot out of your legs."

The Toughest Mudder was the primary reason of Gonzalez's trip north, but there were some extra benefits. Gonzalez and his family got a chance to take in the sights and sounds of New York, including some of its famous patrons.

"When we were by the Donald Trump building, we saw this bus and all of the people had Aerosmith records," Gonzalez said. "My sister saw one of their guitarists, which was pretty cool."

Some of the other places Gonzalez visited were Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building and Ground Zero.

"That was cool to see," Gonzalez said of the national memorial.

Despite the disappointment of not finishing the two-day competition, Gonzalez said he hopes to come back in 2013.

"Hopefully my knee will heal fast so I can workout," Gonzalez said. "I've tried to go to the gym, but I still feel the pain. Now I know what happens, what to expect and I can prepare better."

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