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.

Spirit & Place Festival kicks off in Indianapolis




Check out my preview of this year’s Spirit & Place Festival in NUVO. The online version of the story is condensed; you can read the full version in the print version of this week’s NUVO — that is, if you’re near one of the alt-weekly’s distributors in the Indianapolis area.

The festival includes 52 events over a 10-day stretch. If I had to choose one must-attend event, it would be Think Farm at Big Car’s Service Center location near Lafayette Square. Big Car, a collective of more than 30 artists, invited locals to submit a 400-word idea for improving Indianapolis. Each submission needed to include three images illustrating the idea. A panel of community leaders will select the six strongest ideas, and on Nov. 11 Think Farm will take place, with winners presenting their ideas Pecha Kucha style — that is, with 20 slides shown on screen for 20 seconds each.