Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Extreme Race to Raise Funds for the New England Aquarium

This is the first in a series of bi-weekly posts from a team of Aquarium staff and supporters who are participating in an extreme obstacle course event called the Tough Mudder this spring. They will be posting about their training methods, animals that inspire them to work hard and they will be raising funds to support the Aquarium. You can help them out by donating to support their efforts.

This introductory post is from Aquarium Dive Safety officer John Hanzl, pictured here at work in the Giant Ocean Tank.

Every once in a while—every blue moon, if you will—a challenge comes along that’s so difficult, so intimidating, yet so completely inspiring, that it grabs you and refuses to let you go. Such a challenge recently presented itself to a small group of New England Aquarium staff and supporters, and we banded together to hurtle ourselves, literally, at this challenge.

The challenge you ask? None other than the Tough Mudder competition at Mount Snow, Vermont. Considered possibly the toughest event on the planet, the Mudder is “a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.”

Granted, I pulled that off the event’s website, but from what we’ve learned it’s pretty much spot on. Distance, elevation, mud, fire (fire!), ice-infused mud, vertical walls, even more vertical walls, mud, mud-filled corrugated tubs, mud, mud-filled trenches, greased and elevated monkey bars (over mud), muddy logs, mud … and more mud. Did I mention live electrical wires? Yeah, it’s got that too…

A compilation of images from past Tough Mudder events 

But the main reason we’ve gravitated towards the Mudder is camaraderie. It’s designed to be the very essence of the event. The only way to get through this grueling four-plus hour competition is through teamwork and camaraderie. Which makes perfect sense, as entry funds from the Tough Mudder go to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that adds entire chapters to the meaning of camaraderie.

So that’s the challenge, but what about the challengers? Well, that’s the best part, because it combines two of my favorite things: the New England Aquarium and good friends. Allow me to introduce Team Tiburon (which means “shark” in Spanish):

 We’ve taken animal-themed code names for this race. We are (from left to right) Hawk, Mudskipper, Lion, Flame, Cuttle, Chrys, and Elasmo. 

We are seven foolhardy souls. On Saturday, May 5, we’ll be taking on the Tough Mudder. Our goal is to not only tackle the Mudder, but to bring you along with us on our journey. Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing our experiences as we train for, and ultimately participate in, an experience of a lifetime. We’ll even show how our connection with the aquatic environment, and its inhabitants, have provided us with examples of how creative adaptations have conquered daunting challenges.

Oh, I should also introduce Wolf, aka “The Alternator," Team Tiburon’s back-up competitor (and in training for the next Tough Mudder competition). Wolf was unable to make the training session this past weekend, where the team photo was taken. Therefore, in honor of Wolf, here he is…

Individually we have already raised over a thousand dollars to enter the race. Those entrance funds go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Now as Team Tiburon, and with your help, we hope to raise both funds and awareness for the New England Aquarium and the blue planet we all inhabit.

If you would like to help Team Tiburon raise funds to support the Aquarium, click here to donate.


There will be several new posts from Team Tiburon as they prepare for this event. Please contribute to their fundraising efforts for the New England Aquarium and share this post to spread the word.

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