Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Romy Klinger, left, Courtnay Browne and Bronwyn Rittner will compete today in the Tough Mudder in Beaver Creek, a nine-mile race that includes 25 different challenge stages.
Steamboat Springs The last of the 25 obstacles spread out across the nine-mile course of Saturday’s Tough Mudder competition at Beaver Creek is a field laced with live dangling electrical wires, some of which pack 10,000 volts.
To a person, it’s not navigating that field that has a trio of Steamboat women intent on conquering the challenge, however, and perhaps that as well as anything sums up the challenge that awaits.
Tough Mudder is an uber-challenging race taking place this year in a dozen locations across the country, an event so tough it makes marathons look like easy jogs and triathlons lazy swims.
The list of obstacles between the start and finish lines seems like torture. There are long runs up slick slopes and vast crawling sections beneath wires just 8 inches off the ground. Competitors have to drag logs up a ski slope and swim through the mud and water in long tunnels. There are large cargo nets to navigate, cold snow walls to climb, huge hay bales to top and one “mystery obstacle,” all on a course that includes 4,250 feet of elevation gain.
“There’s one section called the boa constrictor,” Romy Klinger said, outlining the stage that has her most worried. “It’s a tube, and they usually have it at least half full with water and mud, so you have to really keep your head on top. It’s dark and its confined and you’re trying to move through. I expect that to be a little intense.”
Klinger will be joined on a three-person team by fellow Steamboaters Courtnay Browne and Bronwyn Rittner. The group came together thanks to a boot camp offered by Klinger, a local personal trainer, though they all have their own motivations.
Rittner, for instance, said she would be fueled over walls and through mud pits by a battle with rheumatoid arthritis she’s been waging for nearly a decade.
“I’ve been given a gift,” she said. “I was diagnosed about nine years ago and through a whole lot of perseverance and good nutrition, I’m able to go back and start racing. I want to show others they can do this.
“This race is just that kind of race, to show people they can do something.”
The group, team Juice Plus+, is intent on sticking together from the “Braveheart Charge” that starts the event to the “Electroshock Therapy” that ends it, helping one another through difficult sections.
They’ve trained for everything they can, and they even have a plan for the volts: don’t stop, don’t think, just run.
To prepare for the event, they slogged up Emerald Mountain as the snow was turning to mud and did everything they could think of to be ready.
“We were up on the top of Emerald a month ago when it was still all snowy, and the more mud holes we found, the better,” Klinger said. “We would get our feet and hands in there and start crawling just to get a feel how it is do this.
“This isn’t just running, and it’s not just strength. It’s every aspect, including mental strength and pulling through things to overcome fear. … I’m very excited, not nervous at all. We are very well prepared.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com