The North of 50 Tough Mudder team after finishing the event. Those shirts started out white.

The North of 50 Tough Mudder team after finishing the event. Those shirts started out white.

North of 50 conquers Tough Mudder 2013

Ten women from Fort St. James went to Whistler to participate in the Tough Mudder 2013.

There was sweat, a little blood and then at the end, there were even some tears.

Ten women from Fort St. James traveled down to Whistler, B.C., to participate in the Tough Mudder 2013.

The team was started by Jana Gainor, and while some who originally signed up for the event did not make the final trip, the nine others who joined Gainor all were rewarded for their efforts – with a t-shirt, a headband and a beer, and memories that will last their lives.

Lisa Spingle, Renada Walstrom, Ashley Gainor, Alison Moise, Charmaigne Moise, Michelle Boschman, Hannah Phillips, Kim Repko and myself, all took part in the Whistler Tough Mudder 2013.

The event is a challenge, not a race, and the obstacles courses are meant to test strength, stamina, mental toughness and teamwork through a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.

The Whistler event was held at the Olympic Park on Whistler Mountain, and this was the second year the event took place there.

Tough Mudder only began in 2010 and in its first year consisted of three Tough Mudders, exclusively in the United States.

This year, however, there were 35 events held all over the world, with three in Canada.

The Whistler course was aournd 19 km, with the route taking participants up and down a mountain with 20 obstacles to overcome along the way.

There were walls, there was snow, mud, feats of strength and challenges which could only be overcome with teamwork.

But the hardest thing of all to overcome was fear.

In the van on the way down to Whistler, we discussed some of the obstacles, and which ones we were most concerned about, and it was interesting to compare what we had discussed to what we experienced at the event.

While the Arctic Enema was one many had dreaded, it was far worse than I had imagined, due to the panic-inducing nature of the cold water when you duck your head under a wall submerged partway through the tank which you have to pass under before coming up in a bath of ice cubes.

At this point, not only did I lose my head a little figuratively, I lost my helmet camera literally.

With a spotter yelling at me to get out of the tank and me not really sure what just happened and water solid brown with mud, I had little hope of finding the camera again and little desire to go back in to look.

Walking through mud, climbing down steep, root-covered hillsides and crawling through tunnels were not as difficult as overcoming a fear of heights to jump from a high ledge into a muddy pit of water or dunking under a wall in freezing cold water, or running through dangling electrical wires charged with 10,000 volts of electricity.

The obstacle called Everest was also one far harder than I had imagined. Everest was a quarter-pipe you must run across soft mud to get to, then leap for the waiting arms of other Mudders who were already at the top of, and it was tough.

It would have been impressive to see the people who had made it up the wall without the help of others, as it would have taken incredible upper body strength to do.

The effort of trying to help those hauling you up over the edge seemed to require every ounce of strength possible and hurling your body towards the edge lead to a lot of bruises and some minor whiplash.

The 10 women from Fort St. James who traveled down together may not have all trained together, and may not have gone down all knowing each other, but they learned something about themselves and their teammates over the course of the event.

Fitness levels aside, the course takes teamwork, and the mental challenges each person struggled with at different times through the event meant each person needed a little help from the group at different points, which was amazing to watch.

People overcame fears, pain and fatigue to complete the course, and there were some shedding tears of relief at the end.

Pushing yourself and your teammates through the kind of course the event included makes you appreciate what you can accomplish and how rewarding pushing yourself past where you thought your limits were can be.

The ladies of Fort St. James did the town proud, and ran with Fort St. James emblazoned on their t-shirts right over their hearts.

This year 19,000 people had signed up for the Whistler Tough Mudder event and over the 35 events planned for this year, in excess of 460,000 people are expected to take part.

Tough Mudder website