It is billed as probably the toughest event on the planet.
Tough Mudder events are typically 10 to 12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test athletes’ all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.
Michael Parker was approached about joining Sudden Impact, a team of competitors from Newlands, in January.
Up until that point, he admitted he knew little about Tough Mudder.
“When I researched it, it sounded amazing, right up my alley,” the 29-year-old Langley man said.
“I have always been more about seeing what you can achieve, what your body can overcome.”
Parker grew up in Langley, living first in Walnut Grove and then moving to Brookswood when he was eight.
He played as many sports as he could —mainly baseball, basketball and hockey — but after graduating from high school at Abbotsford’s St. John Brebeuf, the opportunity to do team sports was over, so Parker switched to things like squash, and running and general fitness.
And this weekend, Parker will be in Englishtown, N.J. taking part in the second annual World’s Toughest Mudder Competition.
To qualify for worlds, participants must finish within the top five per cent of their age group at another Tough Mudder event. Parker did so in his first attempt, at an event held in Whistler in June.
At the event, Parker remembers thinking he was approaching the finish line — the competitors had been told it was 10 miles and they could hear what they thought was the end — only to realize it was a hoax and there was still more to go.
“You hear all the noise and think you are done, but then the hard stuff came,” he said.
Part of the course included climbing monkey bars over water, ‘arctic enemas’, and even getting zapped with 10,000 volts.
All of that makes it more than just a race.
“It is more of a mental challenge to overcome that fear almost,” Parker said.
“I am not very competitive in a race but if you throw some obstacles in there that maybe the top runners won’t be able to do quickly, it evens the playing field a little bit.”
Having moved back to Langley after graduating from UBC — where he studied psychology — and traveling through southeast Asia, Parker works in Surrey at Options Community Services, doing outreach work at an alternative school.
Since qualifying for worlds back in June, Parker has been spending about 10 hours a week training for the New Jersey event.
At worlds, competitors have 24 hours to complete as many laps as they can. They are allowed to take breaks for food and rest in tents set up for them, but only after the completion of a lap.
Parker has been preparing for the expected cold weather that mid-November brings to the area.
Some of his tactics include going for runs in wetsuits, dunking himself in the ocean, taking cold baths and playing squash with ankle weights and weight vests, among other things.
“It is crazy stuff,” he admitted. “I look ridiculous.”
Parker said he has a nervous excitement for worlds.
His parents, and his fiancée will be attending.
Parker also thanked the staff at Newlands Golf Course, as they held a series of fundraisers to cover the cost of the registration fees.
Another member of the Sudden Impact team, Emily Kydd, had qualified for the worlds as well in Whistler. But a injury is preventing her from attending.