Locals compete at Tough Mudder

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WEST DOVER — It takes a lot to take on a Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudders, which bring in long-distance runners to weekend warriors and everything in between, are the name of obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces.

According to the company's website, the courses, which can range from 10 to 12 miles, are designed "to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie."

For the sixth straight year, Mount Snow hosted the Tough Mudder New England, an event with obstacles such as the Arctic Enema (an ice cold bath) to the Liberator (a triangle shaped peg wall) and the Electroshock Therapy (running through water with electric wires hanging down).

Mount Anthony football coach and teacher Chad Gordon conquered the Tough Mudder course for the third time on Saturday, along with teammates Sandy Stevens and Dan Hammond, who got through it for the first time.

"The atmosphere is awesome at the top of the mountain," Gordon said. "It's not a race, the goal is to finish."

Stevens and Hammond got into the event in different ways. Gordon put out a call for teammates a few months back on Facebook and Hammond, who had worked with Gordon, asked about it. Stevens, a personal trainer who owns Time For Yourself in Bennington, had been on the fence for the past couple years and did it this time after Gordon's wife, Renee, couldn't take part this year as she had in 2015.

People who complete the course once become legionnaires and get the option of trying similar obstacles to the newbies with a different — usually more difficult — twist.

On the Liberator, Gordon stayed with his rookie teammates on the "easier" obstacle, but when they got to the end where the Electroshock Therapy obstacle was, Gordon had the option to do a different obstacle called the Frequent Flyer, basically a swing into a giant pillow.

Gordon decided to stick with his team and ran through the electric wires, getting nailed in the process.

"Electroshock was definitely the worst this year, but once I got through it, I thought I can't believe I did it," Gordon said. "It's more mental than physical."

Some of the obstacles are impossible to do with a single person, so having teammates — ones you know or even ones you don't — is crucial.

"Everyone is willing to help each other, even though it is competitive," Gordon said. "It really restores your faith in humanity."

People that finish the course get headbands, different colors for the different amount of events they've finished.

"You finish [Electroshock] and the finish is three steps ahead," Gordon said. "You immediately get that finishing headband and you're part of the club. As soon as you cross the finish line, you're thinking about signing up again for next year."

Matt Harrington, the executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, competed and finished the course on Sunday.


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