By Bill Mullaly
Crazy, insane and foolish? Or a challenging, rewarding and heart-warming experience. You take your pick but the ten members of team “Una Nos Vici” in Latin meaning “Together We Conquer” will tell you the recent participation in the Ohio version of the Tough Mudder competition was one of the greatest challenges of their life and a meaningful one as well. “We had to sign a death waiver before we started the event,” said Una Nos Vivi spokesman Lance “Doc” Shaffer. “Though the chances of a tragic accident were slim the possibility was there and they make you sign the form. After that basically only the strong survive.”
Pat Gutierrez, a former Hudson Tiger, signed up to compete in this Tough Mudder event many months earlier and he began asking some friends in Hudson, if they would also train to take part. The challenging obstacle course event was held Saturday, April 14th down in Amherst, Ohio, near Cleveland. Participating and surviving the event for team Una Nos Vici were as follows: Adrienne Gutierrez (the only female), Patrick Gutierrez, Tom Ayzenburg, Eli Ruesink, Elmer Marry, AJ Marry, Landon Shaffer, Dr. Corey Borck, WMU Bronco David Smith and Lance “Doc” Shaffer. Also, participating in the event were former Hudson Tiger standout athlete Adam Trott and current Tiger high school principal Lance Horwath. They were not part of team Una Nos Vici but were part of grueling experience. The course was around 12 miles long with swamps, ponds, mud and was one the participants won’t soon forget.
The whole point of this adventure according to Lance Shaffer was to honor the “Wounded Warriors” and to contribute to their fund-raising causes, of which this event is a way to raise money for this organization. “We all want people to know that the Wounded Warriors campaign, to bring awareness to their cause, is why we did this,” said Shaffer, who currently is a chiropractor down in Morenci. “If it were not benefiting the Wounded Warriors we would not have done this. It was the idea of Patrick Gutierrez and he got us all excited and we started training as a group and we did the event.”
Gutierrez is an Army veteran and Ruesink is currently in the military and the others were just there to be a part of something Shaffer called, “the most intense, rewarding and challenging physical and mental competition we have been involved in perhaps ever.”
So what did these Hudsonites and 11,000 other participants do for over three hours down in Amherst in the mud and over the treacherous obstacles course of which there were 25 obstacles to conquer?
Water was a key element and it was cold along with the mud. They had to worry about being nearly electrocuted, drowning, fire and smoke inhalation, getting cut by barbed wire and other obstacles as Shaffer referred to them. “It was a physical challenge to go along with the mental part of it and thankfully we had some Hudson people down there cheering for us,” said the older of the two Shaffer boys. “We were in this together as a team and it wasn’t about winning or the time it took to finish. It was all about making it through and surviving with the help of one another. Seriously, nobody came close to dying but they do have people there watching, observing and ready to give medical help, if a participant is having problems or in danger.”
In the “Arctic Enema” the participant walks off or is pushed off a plank 25 foot high into 50 some degree water that is 40-foot deep. It is either swim or sink and the land is 90 foot way. “They give you no time to think as you either jump or get pushed as people are right behind you ready to take the plunge,” said chiropractor Shaffer, a recent graduate of the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Iowa.
Then there was the “Electric Eel” where runners could get shocked or partially electrocuted if they didn’t do a good enough job of the army crawl on their tummies with barbed-wire fence inches above their heads.
The tough mudders ran the course but had many obstacles along the way to endure and conquer to move on. There were tunnels for the claustrophobic to crawl through. There was one obstacle with fire and smoke and three involving electricity. Cold water was nearly everywhere with Shaffer estimating that 75 per cent of the course involved water as the competition was held in a rock quarry down outside of Amherst.
“This was about teamwork, camaraderie, effort, cooperation and supporting one another,” stressed Shaffer, who said the time or place was not what this was about. “We all just wanted to finish and helping and encourage one another on our team was our focus.”
The members wore black team t-shirts with the name “Una Nos Vici” on them and all ten members safely completed the course but there was one key injury. Former Tiger gridiron great AJ Marry blew up his ankle with a severe sprain but he made it through the event, though, Shaffer noted the next morning on Sunday that AJ’s ankle looked bad with colors of purple, black and blue everywhere.
These supporters of the Wounded Warriors project didn’t just show up and do this as Elmer Marry hosted Saturday morning workouts that started late last fall and went through the winter at his home. In a barn he owns he installed some make-shift maneuvers to prepare them with some tough training. “Yes, we would meet at 5:00 or 6:00 on Saturday mornings to prepare for this competition by working out in what is known as cross-fit training with running, lifting weights and doing other things,” said Shaffer.
The team of ten is thinking about preparing for another Tough Mudder as the Indiana-Illinois event is being held in June down near West Lafayette home of Purdue University. Or there is the Kentucky Tough Mudder in August. “I doubt all ten of us will be available for the next one but most of us are planning another Tough Mudder and we are doing this for the Wounded Warriors,” said Shaffer, who notes the entry fee is around $150 per runner. “This Tough Mudder event is one of the Wounded Warriors top fundraisers and it was a thrill for all of our team to be a part of such a great cause.” No not crazy, just being patriotic!