Getting down and dirty: Residents train for ‘Tough Mudder’ marathon
Gloucester residents Matt Sikora and Melissa Dugan-Makowiec have been training for the "Tough Mudder" marathon to be held this fall at Wintergreen. This is no ordinary marathon, as participants compete and run in the most extreme conditions designed by British Special Forces to test all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.
All of the proceeds from their efforts support the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services to severely injured service members during the time between active duty and transition to civilian.
According to Sikora, he and Dugan-Makowiec got together and decided it would be great exercise and a great way to stay in shape in an untraditional type of workout. "Everyone does 5K races, but we thought it would be interesting to try the obstacle races," Sikora said. "It looked as though these races make you push yourself to do things you wouldn’t traditionally do."
These runners will run regardless of whether it is raining or snowing or cold or hot. "On the hot days, it is nice to get wet and muddy because it helps you cool down," Sikora said.
Because the "Tough Mudder" takes place at the end of October on Wintergreen Mountain, participants prepare for cold conditions. "But I still think nothing will get you fully prepared," he said. "You just don’t know what to expect—especially from the weather."
Sikora’s group, which also includes members from Yorktown, have been training regularly and doing races every month to gain endurance and strength. "We typically run in Yorktown in the mornings before going to work," he added. "The elevation changes in Yorktown make it a challenge, but they help us better prepare for these races."
Currently, the group is up to about five miles in the morning. "Our goal is to get up to the 10-mile range, but we still have a long way to go," Sikora said.
The Tough Mudder claims to have the toughest event on the planet, according to Sikora, who said the obstacles can be very challenging. The course, he said, starts at the base of Wintergreen Mountain and has an elevation change of 1,000 feet. The course is anywhere from 10 to 12 miles long.
"They have a ‘walk the plank’ obstacle where you have to jump off a 20-foot or higher platform into the water, which I’m sure won’t be warm," Sikora said. "Another obstacle that will test you is the ‘electric shock therapy’ where you have to run through a path of electrical lines that look like jellyfish tentacles that are charged at 10,000 volts."