Story by Capt. Dan Marchik
368th Public Affairs Detachment
OSHKOSH, Wis. - Crawling through mud, under barbed wire, and many other obstacles spread along a twelve mile course is something one might associate with a military confidence course, but people actually paid to do in Oshkosh, Wis. this weekend at a Tough Mudder event. The Army Reserve was there helping motivate participants throughout the course and at one of the obstacles called the Berlin Wall, an eight foot tall wall with no way over without a help from a team member.
The Tough Mudder is not a race, but rather an event. Tough Mudder’s co-founder and CEO, Will Dean, developed this idea while at the Harvard Business School and, despite his professors’ doubts about an event that didn’t have a winner or loser but could still be profitable, turned the Tough Mudder into a very successful event that’s hosted throughout the world.
“Will’s premise for this event was that there’s a lot more to life than coming in first. Getting done and proving that you can set and meet a goal is the only individual part of the event,” said Bodkins.
Soldiers who ran the event echoed Bodkins’ teamwork sentiments. Brig. Gen. Daniel Ammerman, commander of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command ran the event with his son.
“It took a lot of physical fitness to get through there and a little mental toughness, but the big piece about this is teamwork. That’s why the Army Reserve is at this event because the competitors have to demonstrate a lot of the same values that Army Reserve soldiers have to demonstrate,” said Ammerman.
This is the Army Reserve’s first participation in a Tough Mudder event and it is a unique and creative recruiting platform. Recruiting company commander Cpt. John Plumstead noticed that there seemed to be common values shared between Tough Mudder participants and soldiers in the Army Reserve.
“We’re looking for people that know how to overcome adversity and be part of a team and work together for a common goal,” said Plumstead.
Ammerman enforced the fact that the Army Reserve is made up of the type of people that are at Tough Mudder events.
“The Army Reserve capitalizes on civilian skills and the people that participate in the Tough Mudder are professionals and that’s what we’re looking for in the Army Reserve are those professional skills,” said Ammerman.
The partnership between the Army Reserve and Tough Mudder also gives the public more exposure to the Army Reserve and helps the public understand what the civilian-soldier is like.
“I think that the story that doesn’t get told is that a lot of professional people are reservists. It’s fascinating hearing what the different occupations in the Army Reserve are about and capable of,” said Bodkins.
Not only does the partnership help shed light on the soldiers and capabilities of the Army Reserve, it also ties into one of the event’s beneficiaries, the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Tough Mudder event has helped raise over $5 million so far for the Wounded Warrior Project which generates awareness and provides programs directed at the needs of injured service members. Tough Mudder helps participants raise money for Wounded Warrior Project though online donations.
“I can’t think of a better cause than that,” said Ammerman of the donations to Wounded Warrior.
The Oshkosh event was the first of eight events that include the Army Reserve scheduled for this year and judging from participant feedback, this partnership is ideal. Bodkins captured the spirit of this perfectly when he said “the event is very much focused around pulling out the best in people and making you realize you are a stronger person than you think you are.”