By Randy Pierce
Oberto Beef Jerky reached out to me through my friend Court Crandall with an invitation to take part in my second Tough Mudder on Saturday, March 28 in Los Angeles, California. “You get out what you put in” is a theme of theirs and I often feel my life exemplifies the rewards in this message.
With the help of my tremendous team, we gave all of our heart, strength, will, and tenacity, but the constant rewards of the day made it all such a small price to pay! Thank you to my team: Greg, Jose, Loren and Sky; to Court, Tough Mudder and to Oberto for a completely epic experience!
While our shirt suggests “I see no obstacles,” I actually do see plenty of obstacles despite my being totally blind. Obstacles are opportunities and the right mindset is so powerful in helping us choose the right response and thereby reap the rewards. In my vision they are simply the means to help us achieve incredible heights of teamwork and success.
Do I sometimes crash into the literal and metaphorical obstacles or falter at it initially? Of course, I think we all do. The bigger question is what do you do next, can you problem solve? Persevere? With a community of support, which we can build in our lives and which is incredibly evident at Tough Mudder events, even the most challenging obstacles can be overcome.
For example, in the midst of our OCR (Obstacle Course Race) we hit the “King of the Swingers.” Climb a 20-25 foot platform, leap out 8 or so feet to catch a suspended T-bar trapeze which you swing to its extent, release, and launch into the air to hopefully ring a bell suspended in mid-air – all before plunging into the water below. Now doing this all without any sight seemed rather daunting and some might have suggested impossible. I had my doubts as well and as a team we had been planning a strategy which we modified as the nature of the full challenge was revealed. The results are in the video below and highlight not only the process but the incredible support which Mudders so passionately share with each other throughout the course:
The 10.5-mile course was loaded with an assortment of obstacles from the steep terrain of the death marches to the many feature obstacles like “Everest” and “King of the Swingers.” We switched my Guides often and shared the work throughout to be stronger as a team than any of us would be as individuals.
Whether it’s hoisting each other to the top, pulling each other along, or encouraging each other when times were tough, we used determination and teamwork to manage each obstacle. When I failed a key grab on the “Funky Monkey” and plunged into the water with the first “failure” on an obstacle, I could not put my head down for long because my team gave perspective and encouragement for us to move to the next challenge. When my height allowed me to boost each member to the top of our next challenge and then leap and be pulled along, we celebrated together without being “mired in the mud” of the prior fall.
Rather than relate the multitude of moments overcoming challenge, I’d rather leave you with the key point of the experience. We all had so many moments to shine individually and as a team. We all emerged tired, bruised, and sore but with an elation and a connection which will bolster our lives. We can’t team up for Tough Mudders every day, but we can build our community and choose how much of ourselves we are willing to commit into any experience–knowing confidently that the rewards of that commitment and effort will be magnified by what we put into it!
Give your all, and whenever possible give it with the support of a team you deserve and which deserves you. The rewards will likely be how your life is defined. See obstacles or opportunity, stumbling blocks or stepping stones, but believe you can achieve and you’ll have a vision more powerful than sight!
Voices from the Team
I had only met Randy, Jose and Sky the Friday evening before the race and immediately became fast friends and developed a bond that will last a lifetime. Being a blind guide for the first time for Randy through the 11 miles of rough terrain, hills and obstacle course was not only a challenge but a life inspiring event for me. As we each took turns guiding Randy and helping each other through the grueling 11 mile dusty course in 95 degree heat our team bond grew and more and more runners cheered us on. I couldn’t count how many cheers and comments from people we heard of how Randy was amazing and how seeing him completing the Tough Mudder was inspiring them.
For anyone who thinks doing the race blind is not a big deal, I challenge you to blindfold yourself for 1 hour and walk throughout your home. Afterward, think how much trust and courage Randy had with his team leading him with a cane or his hand on our shoulder through 11 miles of rough terrain, hills, mud and all the obstacles (which included going over walls, the funky monkey bars, electric shock and jumping off a 25 foot platform to grab a trapeze to swing across a pond and ring a bell). As our team shirts said, we never saw these as obstacles but challenges to conquer.
“YOU CAN DO ANYTHING”!!
The way this team came together to support each other was in and of itself incredible to be a part of, but also entirely indicative of the Tough Mudder community at large. Feeling the support of thousands as we worked our way through the course was amazingly inspirational.
This is my friend and teammate Randy. In 36 hours we bonded in the ways I wish to bond with most people. He’s completely without vision but only because he is the one that needed to be to show all of us that…”to not see obstacles sets you free”. We completed the 10.5, dusty, bloody, fatigued miles in 95 degree heat together and along the way I gained his trust as his guide. I led him via his cane or hand on my shoulder. My favorite part was verbally painting what we were seeing in the moments. At moments, I almost forgot he wasn’t able to see, as his capabilities and grace matched our own. At the King of the Swingers obstacle watching him reach and feel the T-bar with his cane, leap into oblivion, grab it, and ring that damn bell, I was humbled and suffered a minor heart explosion, with pride of course!! I want to thank my team for inviting me to be a part of this beautiful series of moments and a feeling I’ll recall every time I face my own adversity. Till the next time… TEAM RANDY!!!!
It wasn’t in morning, as we shivered in the pre-dawn breeze at the dimly lit Glen Helen raceway answering questions in front of a camera. It wasn’t at the start of the race when the Mudder Hype Man asked him to stand to be recognized as an example of the best that Tough Mudder stands for. It wasn’t any one of the several Randy chants that broke out throughout the day. It wasn’t that surreal moment when he tipped the bell on the King of Swingers and the crowd erupted in a cacophony of elation. It wasn’t the lengthy group hug that followed the agony of Electroshock Therapy and the relief of completion. It was at dinner that night, that it happened. As a group of exhausted, weary, dirty, bloody, bruised Tough Mudders lingered around a dinner table long after the food was gone, the bill had been paid and the drinks had stop flowing, Randy stated a feeling that I think we were all having, but no one was expressing. “I don’t want to leave here, because I know once I do, this is all over.” That was the moment that I realized that this day was different, and I knew he was right. We’d go back to the hotel, shower and crash, dead to the world until the early morning wake up to head back to reality. Loren first, off to the airport for an extra early flight. Next we leave Sky, who has only to drive back to Santa Monica, sleeping peacefully at the hotel. Randy, Jose and myself drive to the airport. We leave Jose on the shuttle bus, on another airline back to Dallas. Randy and I fly back to New Hampshire where I leave him in Nashua to tell Tracy of our West Coast adventures. Then me, alone in the car to reflect on the weekend heading back to the seacoast. The adventure was dying right there at the dinner table and nobody wanted to let it slip away. But it wasn’t 12 hours until I got the call to arms via text. “What are we doing next?” The adventure LIVES!!!