ESU Tough Mudders

Kaitlyn Zarrili competes in the Tough Mudder challenge. Photo Credit / Ashley Mertel
Kaitlyn Zarrili competes in the Tough Mudder challenge.
Photo Credit / Ashley Mertel

BY Ashley Mertel
SC Staff Writer

Two ESU students traveled to Raceway Park on Saturday, October 20, to compete in the Tough Mudder Challenge.
East Stroudsburg University seniors Kaitlyn Zarrilli and Michael Pursell traveled two hours on Saturday to join the hundreds who gathered to compete in the Tough Mudder Challenge. The duo paid $170 each to participate in a strenuous 12-mile challenge.

The question is why?

A Tough Mudder is defined as an obstacle course to test strength, endurance, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. The 12-mile course is designed and constructed by the British Special Forces.

Some of the obstacles in the course include running through fire, trekking through freezing water, climbing walls, crawling under barbwire in mud and more. The obstacle course travels throughout the country, giving people in various states the opportunity to take on the challenge.

So the question remains, why?

When Zarrilli was asked that question she stated, “I wanted to accomplish something. Finishing a Tough Mudder is a serious accomplishment. I wanted to overcome some of my fears and physically challenge myself.”

Pursell had a similar comment and stated, “Because it is a lot of fun and it is something worth accomplishing.”
On the worst part, Zarrilli said, “For me, it was the obstacle called ‘Funky Monkey.’ I had to climb the monkey bars. My arms were so sore and couldn’t hold my wait, so I fell into freezing, murky water. It was awful.”

Another horrible event for the duo was the ice bath. Pursell and Zarrilli had to jump in a hottub sized ice bath. They had to climb under a board under the water to get to the other side of the course.

Pursell’s worse part was the obstacle called the Berlin Walls. This was a 15-foot wall that they had to climb over. Participants rely on strangers for help to help pull them over the walls.

Think the price is too high for such a rough experience? Well the money participants spend to run in the Tough Mudder goes to the Wounded Warrior Project. This is an organization dedicated to soldiers who were wounded in battle.

To date, Tough Mudder has donated more than $3 million to the project. Their money provides combat stress recovery programs, employment services, benefit counseling and adaptive sports programs to those in need.

When asked if they would participate in another Tough Mudder, Zarrilli answered, “Definitly. It was such an adrenaline rush and it gave me such a great sense of accomplishment.”
Pursell stated, “I would absolutely do another one. I had so much fun and it was such an experience.”

For more information on Tough Mudders, visit

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