Ryan Hanes, who is to opposing WHL players what fingernails are to chalkboards, has been called a lot of things during his three seasons with the Kamloops Blazers.
Tough Mudder likely isn't one of them.
No matter. Because Hanes took time over the weekend to prove that, yes, he is a Tough Mudder.
Hanes was among the thousands of people who participated in the Tough Mudder at Whistler's Olympic Park on the weekend.
According to one website, "Tough Mudder is not your average lame-ass mud run or spirit-crushing 'endurance' road race."
"It was unreal," Hanes, 20, said. "It was pretty tough. I thought it was going to be tougher but it was definitely a challenge."
Fashioned after military fitness/obstacle courses, the only thing missing from Tough Mudder is a Clint Eastwood-type drill sergeant standing over the participants and barking at them the whole time.
It all began as an entry in a business plan contest drawn up by Will Dean while he was a student at Harvard Business School. Tough Mudder reached the final, Dean brought in Guy Livingstone, and the first endurance challenge was held in Allentown, Pa., on May 2, 2010. (Dean is the chief executive officer; Livingstone is president and COO. The Tough Mudder website lists 42 personnel.)
Since 2010, hundreds of thousands of people have taken up the challenge and, in the process, raised more than US$3 million for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Hanes said he was among 14,000 people on the course in Whistler on Saturday and that another 15,000 were to take up the challenge on Sunday.
It took place on a 16-kilometre course that included 24 challenges, or obstacles, things like the Swamp Stomp, where you wade through waist-deep mud; the Boa Constrictor, which involves crawling through tubes that are partially full of rather muddy water; the Arctic Enema, which features ice water in a dumpster; the self-described Fire Walker, Berlin Wall and Glacier, and . . . well, you get the idea.
"You'd run for like three miles, do a couple obstacles, run for a mile, do an obstacle, run . . .," Hanes said.
One of the major attractions of Tough Mudder is that it isn't a timed race. The object isn't to win; it is to finish.
The organization's website points out that "Mudders do not take themselves too seriously" and "You cannot complete a Tough Mudder course alone."
Hanes was part of a team that included his two brothers - Mike, 23, who instigated the whole thing a few months ago, and Randy, 21.
"(Mike) called me in February," Ryan related, "and said 'I'm doing this Tough Mudder thing. Do you want to do it with me?' I signed up in February and just did it.
"Mike and me and Randy did it. Mainly, Mike got us three to do it and we got some friends."
Being part of a team also is an important factor. As Hanes pointed out, "If you did it by yourself, you wouldn't want to do it. But with all the support, it was fun."
He also pointed out, while laughing, that with his older brother there, "I had to keep up."
When the big day finally arrived, they were on the course at 11:15 a.m., and off it about three and a half hours later.
"We all stuck together the whole way," Hanes said. "It took us quite a while. We had a couple of girls on the team so we would wait for them and then go as a team the whole way."
Asked to describe what he went through, Hanes replied:
"There was a Berlin Wall thing - I don't know how high it was - but you have to boost up and get them over. It was pretty tough. . . .
"You'd crawl under barbed wire that's 12 inches off the ground. Crawl in about five inches of mud for about 20 feet. . . .
"There was this huge ice bath. Jump in and swim under a gate that's at the bottom of the bath. You have to dive in, swim under in freezing cold water and come out the other side. . . .
"You run four miles up the hill and there's a glacier that's like a lake. You slide down this big snow bank and you have to go 10 feet swimming in the water and you get out and you have to run 15 minutes on the snow. Half of the lake was still frozen still. . . .
"There were a couple of outhouses and water stations. Grab a water, go to the bathroom and keep going."
As Ashley Ellefson, Tough Mudder's events director, told Jeff Green of the Vancouver Province: "They might be a little bit mentally unstable." She apparently was laughing at the time.
When it was all over, those who finish, which statistically averages about 75 per cent, get are given an orange Tough Mudder headband - these are special as they aren't for sale.
You also can choose to get a tattoo of a Tough Mudder logo. The Hanes gang opted out of the ink, primarily because the lineup was so long the wait was about four hours.
Meanwhile, Hanes was back home on Sunday.
"I'm really tired and sore," he said, "and I think I'm going to be worse (Monday)."
So . . . would he do it again?
He didn't hesitate.
"Oh yeah," he gushed. "It was a lot of fun."
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