One tough journey

Published 10:11 am Sunday, July 2, 2017

by Nathan Decker

What kind of crazy takes a perfectly good Saturday and runs through 10-plus miles of mud, 20 obstacles and fears? Christians. Or at least the Muddy Methodists of the James River District! On June 10, a group of 11 spirit-led souls dove into the self-proclaimed “toughest event on the planet” also known as the Tough Mudder. Three pastors and eight laity from High Street UMC, Wakefield UMC and Twin Oaks Charge completed the course in just over five hours of sweat, grit and groan.

The Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile run filled with 20 obstacles, emphasizing teamwork and camaraderie over race times and medals. The organization partners with Team Rubicon, a non-profit organization that supports veterans efforts to mobilize and assist in disaster response. With military gusto grunts, Tough Mudders take an oath stressing “I help my fellow Mudders complete the course” and “I overcome all fears.” Probably the most important line is “I do not whine — kids whine.”

But even the kids didn’t whine on the day of the run, for two of the team members were under 13. Ethan and Elijah Decker participated in the Mini-Mudder — a one-mile course of mud and “American Ninja” style obstacles. Both completed it in style. Afterward, Ethan Decker was quoted as saying, “that was epic.” It was the second year for both of the boys.

The adults had their fair share of challenges on the course. In spite of her claustrophobia, TeDra Flanders took a dive into the “Arctic Enema,” a dark tube that slides into ice cold water. For the first time, Pastor Nathan Decker successfully made it across the “Funky Monkey Revolution” obstacle, a set of monkey bars set as an A-frame with wheels instead of bars on the end.

At one point, Mike Wrenn said, “I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.”

At the end of the run, Alison Frohlich expressed what everyone was feeling, “Doing this lets you know what you are really capable of.”

Her parents plan to run with her next year.

Wearing bright orange shirts that read, “No one said you had to be clean,” the church helped lots of fellow Mudders across obstacles like Block-ness Monster, Skidmarked, Berlin Walls and Mud Mile. Not only did they have fun and grow closer to one another, but they were also able to practice their faith by helping strangers in the mud.

For more pictures and video, visit High Street UMC’s Facebook page or better yet join our team. The pastors and several lay folk have already signed up for next year’s run on Saturday, June 9, 2018.

If you’d like to join their team, contact Nathan Decker at