Locals thrive on challenge

SYCAMORE – After members of the Moose(L)Up Redemption Club gym competed in the grueling Tough Mudder event in Chicago last year, they decided they wanted an even tougher challenge.

“Being gluttons for punishment, seven of us decided to raise the stakes this year and do a GoRuck Challenge June 1 in Chicago,” Denny Kolkebeck said.

The Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by former Special Forces soldiers. The obstacles consist of running muddy hills, crawling through narrow tunnels, scaling 10-foot walls and even running through a 40-foot-long pergola filled with electrical wires carrying 10,000 volt charges.

“I think we did Tough Mudder in 3 to 4 hours,” Kolkebeck said. “It’s essentially a half-marathon distance with 25 to 30 different obstacles.”

The GoRuck Challenge was also conceived by former members of the Special Forces and it has similar obstacles, but it starts at either 10 p.m. or 1 a.m. The challenge can take 12 to 16 hours to complete, and all participants carry rucksacks, or backpacks, filled with bricks.

“You always want to go after something that is just out of reach of what your current abilities are, and try to find a way to make it happen,” said Kolkebeck.

Jeff Wig of Sycamore has participated in two previous GoRuck Challenges, and suggested the challenge to the Tough Mudders.

“I just shared with them my experience with it, and how it was a team event,” Wig said. “In the other events you might help people along the way, but you’re really doing it for yourself. GoRuck participants are encouraged to work in teams to complete their missions, and might have to carry a buddy in a fireman’s carry or carry a log on their shoulders.”

Wig, a police officer in Sycamore, trains year-round for the extreme events.

“Last year I ran the Pumpkin Run in a gas mask and a backpack full of bricks,” he said. “Working out with a rucksack with six bricks and other weight is part of my training. (The gas mask) conditions your lungs and your diaphragm because it constricts the airflow to your lungs by 30 to 40 percent.”

Both men are driven by their desire to always push themselves to new levels of performance.

“It’s a life-changing thing when you start something like this and come out the other side,” Kolkebeck said.

Proceeds from Tough Mudder benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, and proceeds from GoRuck Challenge benefit the Green Beret Foundation.

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