The only Urban I am is Outfitters — until I decided to challenge myself to Urban Mudder.
Urban Mudder, billed as the cousin event of “Tough Mudder,” was a 5-mile obstacle course where participants run, climb, lift and sweat their way to success. This was the first time the event was being held. All obstacles are city-themed, such as Rooftop Series, where you jump between two makeshift roofs like in the movies and Second Avenue Subway where you give someone a piggy back ride — since subway transportation is never reliable.
I had never participated in any event remotely close to this, so of course I was scared out of my mind. Upon entering the camp there was a welcoming feeling; young, old, tattooed, hipster beard or not all excitedly chatted with each other about the upcoming obstacles.
Most were in teams with homemade matching shirts, like #chuglife. Christin Melone, Courtney Melone, Lisette Sanchez, Victor Faustino and James A. Walters all worked together in a surgery center, most knowing each other for the past three years.
“It’s our first time; we’re virgins,” Sanchez said. “I’m so excited!”
Some participants had no group but solely relied on their training, like Melissa Kojic.
“I’ve been training since October,” said Kojic. “It’s so much fun; it’s really inspirational when you finish.”
I ate four cheese danishes the day before. So, you know, I prepared equally well.
Kojic’s sister, Yvette Kojic, wouldn’t be joining the festivities but looking from the sideline, rooting her on as many others did.
Oh, how people did cheer and scream — like that Shia LaBeouf video, people were told to “just do it!” in the most supportive way possible. I tried to remember those words as I drowned in my own sweat, running to the first obstacle.
When I had finally gained momentum, i.e. I stopped breathing like I swallowed pool water I was stopped. The first obstacle had a wait. While this killed my energy, luckily there was a DJ playing old 90’s hip-hop that helped keep me entertained.
I got to the beginning of the line and couldn’t even start Head Rush, an obstacle where you cross water while putting your hands on one bar and feet on the other. In my defense, I was too short. My complete and utter lack of coordination didn’t thwart me that time.
The other obstacles had me cursing for sweet relief, but when I completed them I felt euphoric. I tiptoed past laser fields, climbed up and over giant balloons (about 15 feet in diameter) and squeezed through a tiny space between two brick walls —also known as the spatial area of your average city apartment.
What stood out was that no one was judging my slow, short legs. When I couldn’t Spiderman my way up a wall, two complete strangers pushed me up. When I was having trouble going up a ladder, the guy below me told me not to worry and that I was doing fine.
The sense of community at Urban Mudder made the experience much more than a glorified gym routine.
Sunburned beyond relief but with a congratulatory Urban Mudder sweatband on my hair I went to get my complimentary beer (sweet, sweet beer). I ran into the Kojic sisters again.
“You made it!” said Melissa, giving me a hug. I knew none of these people before the event yet the satisfaction of seeing each and every one of them post-finish line was immense.
“I can’t believe it,” I said, clinging to my drink for dear life.
“I think want to do it again.”