For the Patterson Irrigator
The quiet rolling hills of Diablo Grande located just outside of Patterson were transformed into an obstacle course that grappled with those found on a military training base during the weekend of Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13.
Yells of “Urah! Urah! Urah!” bounced off the walls and rolled down the valley as contestants lined up in their gear for a well-worked afternoon; it was a sure sign that Tough Mudder was back for its second year, and participants were ready to excel.
More than 14,000 people swarmed over the hills to complete the course made up of 23 obstacles that would test the participants to their very core while forming friendships and creating bonds with strangers alike.
The participants were broken up into groups of around 300 people to accommodate the crowd.
The first launch began at 8 a.m., and the others followed suit in 20 minute intervals. The starting gate was just behind a vertical wall that most people needed help over just to get to the starting area. Thus, from the very beginning, the fellowship and camaraderie began before the course even opened.
This was not a race, after all. As covered by the “Mudders” oath in a pledge made before each group headed out onto the course: “I understand that this is not a race but a challenge! I will overcome all fear! I will help my fellow mudders complete the course! Look at that mudder on your left! Look at that mudder on your right! No one is left behind!”
And that was, indeed, the way it seemed to go as the day wore on.
People came through the end of the obstacle course in waves with the vast majority of the pre-formed groups intact, helping each other in strength and spirit.
There were groups such as “Captain Crunch and The Cereal Killers”, “The Mudussy Group” that local Pattersonite Frank Bautista had helped put together, “Mud Rats” and “Dorks in Shorts.”
Although teamwork was heavily encouraged, a few individuals decided to take on the challenge themselves, including two sisters that were from Minnesota and a single man from Turlock named Armando Blanco.
Blanco came to be regarded as a well-known man due to his heroic actions and undetermined enthusiasm. He was always seen carrying a large U.S. flag with the names of four of his fallen fellow soldiers written on attached ribbons throughout the entire event, only handing it off to someone to hold until he cleared an obstacle and then immediately took it back.
Once he reached the final station, an electrified mud pit known as “Electroshock Therapy,” had nearly stumped him. The eclectic shocks had brought him to his knees, but the shouts of “USA! USA! USA!” from spectators and mudders alike pulled him back up on his feet as he stumbled through the last 20 yards.
That was the way it was and why it was created. Again, this was not a race and no times were kept or winners announced. If someone had come on their own, they were immediately pulled into a group, creating friendships and bonds that cemented this shared experience.
There was help displayed time and time again at obstacles such as the “Ladder to Hell,” which looked to be at least 100-feet tall.
There were many people that could not have done it alone but made it over with help with strength and words of encouragement from other Mudders.
Randy Sawyer is the temporary sports writer for the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at RandySaw1@gvni.com.