Last year, I had friends who entered and took part in the Tough Mudder weekend in Whistler. I tagged along as cheerleader and team photographer having no idea what it would involve and how I would feel at the end of the day. It started with a drive up to Whistler through crazy torrential rains and a really dark highway. We checked into our hotel and went to bed. The next morning started at 5:30am…I didn’t realize I would have to get up and go at the same time, but we are a team so I got up and went. You hike into the ‘village’ that they have created. Registration, stage for live music, food (COFFEE!!), beer garden (not open yet) and plenty of hyped up people just ready to go. At the beginning of the course, there is a wall that you have to get over just to get to the starting line. It’s a physical wall, and in some ways, a mental wall too. It’s the first obstacle and the course starts to test you even before you have started. When you get over the wall, because you will, greeting you are other Tough Mudders and a guy who has motivation and encouragement down to a fine art. Sean Corvelleis a stand up comedian/actor who is the start line emcee at Tough Mudder. If you were feeling nervous at all before you start, by the time he finishes his intro, the nervousness is replaced by excitement and confidence and courage….heck, I wanted to get changed and jump in! My team mates, with huge grins on their faces, arms around each other, made the pact to stick together and finish as a team. Tough Mudder is a challenge, not a race. The camaraderie is evident even before you start. After they left the start line, I was able to track my team for about 6 obstacles before they disappeared into the wilderness of the Whistler area forest. I wasn’t the only cheerleader/photographer for our team; there were 2 others along for the adventure. So the 3 of us trooped back down to the village to get coffee and just wait. There were multiple start times during the day, so we continued to hear ‘Hoo-ra!’ throughout our wait and the start of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ while other Tough Mudder teams made their way to the start line. Our team crossed the finish line in just over 3 hours. One thing that ‘held them up’ was that they stayed at one of the obstacles helping people up and over. It looks like a really large half pipe, and the idea behind it is to take a running leap and reach for the top and get yourself over. Alright then. Add mud, water, exhausted muscle groups and well, you add a wee bit of a challenge. This is where much of the team spirit comes into play. There are Tough Mudders that sit atop this lofty obstacle and reach for your hand as you leap up and pull you over. Time and time again, you will see people sitting up there, sometimes for 20 minutes at a time, to help other Tough Mudders. This is what we need more of in our world. The hand reaching down when you need a hand up. Before my team came in, I stood at the finish line and watched other teams finish. Some would run screaming at the top of their lungs at the final obstacle which was a structure with a myriad of dangling wires hanging down. Doesn’t sound so tough….it was electrified. One team leap frogged through, others would close their eyes, put their hands up in front of their faces, and run through. One of the coolest moments was when a team full of guys, all probably in their late 20’s early 30’s, joined hands to go through together. Before they did, one of the guys yelled, where’s Joe? They all turned around, and up trotted Joe, a guy in his 60’s rockin’ it out with the young guys. They all crossed the finish line together. Each team that approached the finish line, made sure they finished together. They upheld their pact. They made it. Witnessing this was empowering for me and I knew at that moment that I wanted to take part the next year. Fast forward to January 16th, 2013. I signed up. I will officially be a Mudder crossing the finish line with my team on June 22 in Whistler and I will feel awesome! Team training nights will be Mondays and I imagine there will be sweat, sore muscles and a whole lot of laughter. We will do this together, because we are a team. Hoo-Ra!