Last week, I participated in my third Tough Mudder obstacle course. These races consist of you breathlessly jogging across 8 miles of someone’s donated farm land to do a bunch of obstacles that aren’t that different from those summer camp team building activities we did as teenagers. Throw in a ton of mud and exclusively branded headbands, and you got yourself a Tough Mudder.
Despite how sore I always feel after these things, and how much I fail to do about half of the obstacles, the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing these races is comparable to none. But the best part is these races aren’t designed for any single individual to accomplish on their own. In fact, some of the obstacles are impossible to complete by yourself.
You have to rely on the people around you.
The Mud Mile 2.0 obstacle is a bunch of muddy humps with large pools of muddy water in between. The only way you can get over those humps is if someone is down in the pool giving you a boost, with someone on top of the hump lending you a hand to pull you up.
The Pyramid Scheme obstacle is a 120-degree ramp that’s about 30 feet high. You’re wet enough and it’s steep enough that you would just slide down if you tried to run up it yourself. Instead, you need two people to form a base at the bottom of the ramp, with another person propped up on their shoulders, with another person propped up on his or her shoulders, acting as a ladder for others to climb up you to the top.
Then there’s Electroshock Therapy, an obstacle where you have to book it through 30 feet of dangling live wires that will shock you and knock you to the ground if you touch one. It’s the worst. Literally the only way that you’ll find the motivation to do it is if you see others do it, too.
These are just 3 of the 25 obstacles. And after nearly 3.5 hours, my team and I completed it. The endorphins were surging. We felt like beasts. And we got free t-shirts.
The community implications behind this ridiculous event are impeccable. Thousands of complete strangers rally together to help each other through obstacles. Fears are overcome, limits are pushed, new heights are accomplished, and memories are made. All this happens because everyone there is fighting for a common goal: To finish the race. (And to get the free t-shirt)
If that’s not a perfect metaphor for the Church, then I don’t know what is. (Minus the free t-shirt. Except most churches give out free t-shirts. So yes, including the t-shirt.)
All of our greatest obstacles become much more doable when we can fight alongside friends. Even complete strangers who are going through the same obstacles become friends simply because we share a commonality with that struggle.
And besides. Playing in the mud is more fun with friends anyway.