Tough mudding in small-town Indiana

Sports + Rec



NUVO published my preview of Tough Mudder Indiana late last week. I eagerly signed up for this writing and photography assignment, in part because the event was being held in Attica, a short drive from my family’s farm. I’ve been traveling through Attica, a town of 2,400 denizens, since childhood, and it’s a community that, for better and worse, largely has remained unchanged over the course of my lifetime.

An estimated 15,000 participants registered for Tough Mudder, and I wondered how well Attica would be able to absorb an influx of visitors six times its population. The town appeared to be up to the challenge. As I drove through the community yesterday, it seemed like any other Saturday, with light traffic on the main drag. The 700-acre event host, Badlands Off-Road Park, effectively swallowed up the many thousands of participants and spectators, keeping them out of sight on the edge of town.

A mohawked Mudder nears the finish line

I spent three hours taking photos at Tough Mudder. You can check out the images on Flickr. I’ll share high-resolution photos from the event here at DeStewart in a week or two.

I won’t be joining the ranks of Mudders anytime soon, but I now have a better understanding of the event’s appeal. As one of my interviewee’s put it, Tough Mudder is “one part triathlon, one part UFC, and one part Woodstock.” The setting had a post-apocalyptic feel about it, like a scene out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. But the spirit of camaraderie prevailed. Tough Mudder isn’t about winning; it’s about finishing — and about somehow, between barbed-wire pricks to the back and jolts of electricity to the neck and fire and ice underfoot, having fun in the process.

Update: NUVO has posted a sampling of my Tough Mudder photos.