SENECA, Ill. — An estimated 17,000 participants showed up in Seneca over the weekend with the intent to get muddy.
Most all were successful.
For the first time ever, the "Chicago" Tough Mudder obstacle course event took place locally, with the Seneca Hunt Club hosting the event. That was the staging area, as busses rolled through Seneca packed with participants all day long.
Eventually, the eager participants got their wish and paid to get muddy.
"I came here today with my team," Alyssa Groberski of Fox River Grove said. "There are seven of us. People who work together and are friends."
"This is for anyone who wants a challenge," Jason Odrzywolski of Wauwatose, Wis., said. "I'm a former Marine and if someone wants a taste, just a taste, of boot camp, then they would like to do this."
In a nutshell, the Tough Mudder event is a 12.5-mile race course with 22 designated obstacles to challenge any and all customers. One of those obstacles Electroshock Therapy, the concluding obstacle in which partipants have to run through a field of electrically charged overhead wires.
Odrzywolski said that is the hardest thing to deal with on race day.
"Mainly it's the electric shock, but it's all mental. You know it's going to hurt," he said. "Otherwise, the race tries to play on your fears. Platforms and climbing and things like that ... crawling through holes."
Not to mention navigating a fire pit.
On hand to ensure the safety of "Obstacle 12 – Fire Walker" was the Seneca Fire Department. Lieutenant John Starr, along with Lynette Riggs and Don Barkowski, were there pulling duty on Saturday.
"We're here to oversee the fire pits and make sure nothing gets out of control," Starr said. "We're here to watch for fires and other general safety."
There was an issue with one of the fire pits on Saturday, but the SFD was there to clean it up quickly.
"One of the bricks fell off one of the pits," Starr said. "We stepped in to make sure that nobody touched it because it was hot. Then we got it out of harm's way."
To Groberski, there were two big things for her to overcome on Saturday.
"The most challenging thing is the distance," Groberski said. "That and getting over a 10-foot wall."
For that, she needed a little help from her friends.
"It's all about your teammates helping out there, though there were people working at the obstacle course who were helping out too," Groberski said.
It's one of the things that was quite common on the day — people bonding in the mud.
"One of the coolest things that I've seen is you see a lot of people stopping to help each other," Riggs said. "It's not just every man for himself."