Villanovans Take on Tough Mudders Race


Courtesy of Courtesy of Sam Batchelor

Chandler (left), Batchelor (middle), Nachurski (right).

Kai da Luz, Staff Writer

Looking for a challenge? Picture springing to life at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. While this may already seem challenging enough, we’re just getting started. Now, picture hopping in a van to Pocono Raceway to run 15 km. For many, that would already be pushing my limits, but for some Villanovans on campus, it would still fall short. Now, add in mud pits, rope climbs, ice baths, menthol gas and electrical wires.


On Saturday, Sept. 10, three Villanovans did just that. Junior Connor Nachurski and sophomores Sam Batchelor and Kelani Chandler, all members of Army ROTC at Villanova, participated in Tough Mudder, which is a traveling event that focuses on endurance, mental toughness and teamwork. The obstacles add to the fear factor, with the inclusion of fire, water and electrical hazards to name a few. Not to mention that the whole course is a 15 km mud run.


This was Batchelor and Chandler’s first Tough Mudder, but Nachurski had competed before with his family and friends. He invited the other two to join his team this year.


“There was a lot of friendly trash talk leading up to the event,” Nachurski said. “Getting to see my friends and family race was very entertaining, especially since the obstacles can be so physically demanding and difficult.”


The group left Villanova at 7 a.m., with Nachurski driving them up to Pocono Raceway, where the Tough Mudder was held. The trio met up with the rest of Nachurski’s team at the location. 


The team ran with the We Defy Foundation, which Nachurski’s family supported last year as well.


“I come from a military family, so teaming up with an organization like the We Defy Foundation has been an awesome opportunity,” Nachurski said. “They promote veteran mental health and physical fitness, mainly through Brazilian jiu-jitsu.” 


Nachurski explained that Tough Mudders has allowed him and his family to raise money for the foundation, which provides funds to help veterans work through military-connected disabilities and scholarships to Brazilian jiu-jitsu academies.


“Being able to run for such an incredible cause just gave me even more motivation to keep pushing through,” Chandler said.


Once they arrived, the trio donned red We Defy t-shirts and lined up to begin. 


They began the event at 10 a.m. and finished around 2 p.m.. There were 5 km, 10 km and 15 km portions of the course teams could opt for, but the Villanovans chose the 15 km route, which featured 30 obstacles in total.


Many of the obstacles posed both mental and physical challenges. 


“My favorite obstacle was probably the very last one,” Batchelor said. “It was called ‘Electro-Shock Therapy.’ It was about 20 yards long with the finish line in sight, but between you and your end goal was a layer of water on the floor and electric wires hanging down.”


Batchelor and Chandler charged forward anyways. 


“Kelani and I thought we would just send it, so we held hands and sprinted into the dangling wires for maximum contact,” Batchelor said. “The jolt knocked me back and all my muscles tensed up. When I tried to get up, I got shocked again before I was able to clear the obstacle.” 


Other highlighted obstacles included a warped wall called “Everest,” and “Funky Monkey,” which involved inclined monkey bars. “Cage Crawl” required participants to crawl upside down underwater while holding on to a horizontal chain link fence that only provided a few inches of space to breathe.


Another article the trio remarked on was a low tunnel filled with menthol gas, which prevented the participant from seeing anything while they crawled and coughed. “Mudderhorn,” a rope wall standing three stories tall, stood as the penultimate obstacle, with “Electro-Shock Therapy” being the final.


“My favorite moment was the “Mud Mile,” Chandler said. “Our whole team worked together to boost each other up and out of pits of mud. Most of us tried it ourselves first and just ended up slipping and getting completely covered in mud. This was definitely the muddiest obstacle but also the one where our teamwork really showed.”


Though Tough Mudders tests individual endurance and will, it is indeed largely team-focused. 


“You start as a team and finish as a team,” Batchelor said. 


The trio had an amazing time competing and supporting a great cause. They expressed that they would definitely do it again.