Source: Sherman Publications

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One tough mudder

by Trevor Keiser

October 31, 2012

Alexander McKeown army-crawls through ‘The Kiss of Mud’ obstacle at the Las Vegas Tough Mudder challenge. Photo subimitted.
After running his first "Tough Mudder" competition last April, 2007 Oxford graduate Alexander McKeown became hooked.

"Originally a couple of my friends and co-workers talked me into it. There were about four of us that did the first one back in April in Ohio," McKeown said. "I had fun with it and wanted to see how far I could take it and try (to) get to (the world competition)."

In order to get to "The World's Toughest Mudder," an individual or a team of four must finish in the top five percent of the participants that finish the challenge that day. After not having much success as a team in the Ohio and Indiana races, McKeown decided to run as an individual in a Tough Mudder challenge in Diablo Grande California there heinally qualified for the "World's Toughest Mudder."

"I am really excited," added McKeown. "I feel like it's a great accomplishment just to have qualified for World's."

So, what exactly are Toughest Mudder competitions?

"Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie," according to Some of the obstacles include jumping over or through hay bales, swimming through icy waters, running through a trench of fire, crawling through mud underneath barbwire fencing, and even sprinting through a field of live wires carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electricity.

The World's Toughest Mudder is the same layout as a regular competition with a 10-12 mile course with 25-30 different obstacles. The difference being the race is 24 hours long.

"The person who runs the most laps in 24 hours wins," McKeown said. "The top male and female winner each gets $15,000. The top team of four receives $20,000."

The odds of finishing the challenge are very slim, he added.

"Last year there were about 800 to 1,000 people that started it and only about 108 finished," he said. "People were getting hypothermia, medical teams were saying whether you could or could not continue."

This year the challenge will be held in English Town New Jersey on Nov. 17 and 18. The race is also a fundraising event for The Wounded Warrior Project, an organization dedicated towards helping military members who incurred service- connected wounds, injuries or illnesses on or after Sept. 11, 2011. According to the Tough Mudder website, to date they have raised over 3.7 million for Wounded Warrior.

McKeown said he is preparing for the event by training with last year's World's Toughest Woman Juliana Sproles. Every morning he wakes up at 5 a.m. to do an hour workout with Sproles.

"Workouts in morning are pushups, sit-ups, cardio and endurance programs, anything that can really help (me)," he said. "On the weekends I run by myself."

He also bowls and plays soccer on a weekly basis. As for his upcoming Tough Mudder Challenge at Worlds, McKeown said he's looking forward to it. "Just to go out there and see how hard you can push yourself to the point of you're taking your body and your mind to its limit," he said. "I think it's going to be a good, exciting experience and just to try and finish and win is going to be an accomplishment in its own."