One Tough Mudder | Why Do More than 12,000 People Risk Hypothermia and Exhaustion? Could Be the Free Beer.

Peter “Fish” Case describes himself as a golf and softball kind of guy. Before the Tough Mudder, the only endurance event on the 47-year-old radio personality’s resume was one sprint triathlon.

Photo courtesy Mount Snow.

Then the Brattleboro resident decided to try the Tough Mudder. The military-boot-camp-style event tests entrants’ mettle over more than two dozen obstacles—think crawling, climbing, and submerging and enduring cold water, mud, and electric shock. The reward: a beer, a headband, and a live band. To get ready, Case hit the gym and started running. He recruited a dozen friends, including five state cops, to sign up for the event last May. Together they formed team Dirty Mudder Fudders.

>>Sidebar: Tough Enough to Get Muddy?

Despite his dedication at the gym, nothing could prepare Fish for what he encountered over the 10-mile course at Mount Snow last year.

Photo courtesy Mount Snow.

“The first thing they do is march you straight up the hill in a nice little spirit-breaking hike to the summit,” Case recalls. “One of the signature obstacles is Walk the Plank, a 12-foot-high platform you jump off of into freezing-cold water. You can work out your whole life, but nothing can prepare you for 38-degree water.”

One of his teammates, Amanda Jo Parker, had to drop out after the dip in the icy water induced hypothermia. The event lived up to its name.

“It’s tough. They do a lot of spirit breaking things. I would have to say its 50-50 split between mental grit and physical grit. You have to keep telling yourself you can push through it. If you can, you get your orange headband and a free beer,” Case says.

Photo courtesy Mount Snow.

Was he one and done? Nope. Case couldn’t stop. He did another Tough Mudder in November and three other similar races in between, including one called the Rugged Maniac. He’s signed up for the Mount Snow event this May and again in July.

Parker is back for more too. The country radio D.J. is determined to avoid the medics and foil blanket this time and is determined to cross the finish line.

“It’s the competitor in me, I guess. I really feel like physically I could have done it. I’m kind of pissed I didn’t finish it the first time with my team. So it’s kind of to prove it to myself that I can do it,” says Parker, 27, from Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Case and Parker aren’t the only ones who think it’s worth paying for three hours of pain and a Dos Equis. The Tough Mudder New England at Mount Snow had more than 12,000 entrants last year over the two days the event was held, raising $233,402 for the Wounded Warrior Project, the event’s charity of choice. This year, 17,000 are expected in May and two days were added in July.

“Registration was filling up fast for the May event, so we worked with the great folks at Tough Mudder to add a second event so we could keep up with the demand,” says Mount Snow spokesman Dave Meeker.

The first Tough Mudder was in 2010, and the concept has caught fire. Last year there were 14 Tough Mudders, and this year the number has more than doubled to 33, with sites across the United States and internationally. The event has contributed more than $2.5 million to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that assists veterans in overcoming the real obstacles they face returning to civilian life.

Case admits the Tough Mudder is grueling, but that’s not the attraction for him. It’s the camaraderie and esprit de corps that happens out on the course.

“That’s kind of the thing that attracted me to it. And it’s really true, everybody helps everybody get over the walls, and you are never out there alone,” Case says. “We help them. They help us. It’s a whole thing. You end up adopting teammates.”

Said like a true Tough Mudder Fudder.

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