Joe Schuch, Colin McGowan re-define toughness

Adam Stiles

   Colin and Laura McGowan pose in front of a wall at the Tough Mudder race on April 14. They celebrated their accomplishment after with a drink they earned at the finish.


The Tough Mudder, an event consisting of various hardcore obstacles across a muddy course stretching between 10 and 12 miles long, is noted as “probably the toughest event on the planet.”

        This challenging adventure, designed by British Special Forces, requires endurance, upper-body strength, confidence and, among many other necessities, the will to resist 10,000 volts of shock carried by live wires on the course.

   Hudson High School has two teachers who possess these qualities and used them on the most recent Tough Mudder event in Amherst, Ohio on April 14. Math teacher Joe Schuch and history teacher Colin McGowan will eliminate all doubt that there are events tougher than this on the planet.

     The arrangement of obstacles and course design set this event apart from any other in the world. 

   Schuch agreed, “You can’t  compare it to anything else. There is nothing else like it where you have 12 miles and 26 obstacles that are extremely challenging. I’ve never done anything like it before. It’s really unique.” 

    As much as Schuch and McGowan enjoyed the challenge and even recommended that others try it, the event isn’t for people to just show up and run. It requires training and good fitness. Schuch trained three times every week, and, in addition, he would meet his teammates on Saturdays, occasionally at a playground in Stow, to prepare for some of the climbing obstacles.

     “We would be hopping over different obstacles; we would find hills to run up and down; we would go through the mud; we would run through part of the Cuyahoga River to get our shoes wet and get used to the discomfort,” Schuch added.

    As a “Mudder,” you pledge numerous statements including “I overcome all fears.”

 For Schuch, it was the electrical wires that gave him fear going into the event. With the expectation that only one obstacle, the final one, would provide these wires, he surprisingly faced an additional two obstacles with live wires. 

  McGowan encountered different fears from Schuch. His fear of heights came to mind when he stood at the top of a 25-foot tall tower, staring down at freezing cold water. 

  “First of all, I’m scared of heights, so I was hesitant up there, and then I had to jump into water that was very cold, so that part was pretty tough for me,” McGowan described. 

 Another pledge states, “I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.”

  Schuch claims that camaraderie is the reason he did the race, wanting to meet people from his church with whom he ran. McGowan, on the other hand, ran it with his wife, Laura. The majority of the participants do it in a group of four or more.

     “This has helped us expand. We have decided to do an event every few months together. Our theme is ‘Faith, fellowship and fitness.’ We’re trying to promote fitness, and we had a lot of fun together. At the race, so many people will help you out. They say, ‘It’s not a race, it’s a challenge.’ We could feel that throughout the course, and you definitely need some help on some obstacles,” said Schuch.

      Overcoming this challenge left these two teachers with a sense of accomplishment and what Schuch described as “rewarding.” McGowan called it “inspirational.”


     “I think it’s good for the human spirit to overcome challenges like that. It made me realize that I want to live life with challenges in front of me every day. People asked the guy (George Mallory) who climbed Mount Everest why he did it, and he said, ‘Because it’s there.’ Now I completely understand that line. It is such a good feeling to overcome challenges in life, and this was a great way to feel that sense of accomplishment. I would definitely do it again,” McGowan stated.

    Those inspired by these two men can sign up for one of the Tough Mudder events in the 37 locations across the United States. The events are open to individuals above the age of 18 who are prepared for a unique challenge over the duration of about three hours. 

   Additionally, money from the race will add to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization committed to “honoring and empowering wounded warriors,” that has already raised nearly $3 million. 

    So if you think you have the “stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie” to overcome the British Special Forces, you can join Schuch and McGowan in “Mudder Nation.” 


Used with permission/Colin McGowan


2012-05-22 07:18:10