When was the last time you did something challenging with your kids? Maybe you ran a 5k with them or went ice fishing for the first time or tried skiing or snowboarding with them? Last weekend my two daughters and I did something challenging and muddy together.
About 10 years ago I had some friends tell me about this “Tough Mudder” event they had just completed up at Mt. St. Louis Moonstone. They told me it was a 10-mile obstacle course-mud-run thing. I spend a lot of my time at parks watching kids climb on stuff and trying not to lose too many of them so an event with a bunch of mud and a bunch of monkey bars seemed like something I could do. I’m a below average hockey player and can’t hit a softball over the fence but I can run and crawl in mud. It was the perfect event for someone lacking actual athletic skill.
I thought it sounded interesting so a few friends, cousins, uncles and I put together a team and did it the following year. We called our team, “Weening, not losing”, since we are clever like that. Besides the almost freezing temperature and the sleety snow falling that day it was a fun four hours. Lying in bed for the rest of the day and waiting for the feeling to return to my extremities was also…memorable. As I lay in bed recovering that day I dreamed of doing a Tough Mudder with some of my kids someday. My oldest daughter was 8 years old at the time and it was unlikely she was going to keep pace with me up and down Mt. St. Louis for four hours so I would have to wait a few years.
The years passed by until all of a sudden it was 2022. That little girl is now 17. Her 15-year-old sister wouldn’t be left out so when we realized we would be in Florida at the same time as Tough Mudder the three of us signed up. Training began. Their 11-year-old brother is on a bit of an exercise kick so he began to wake us up at a time that seemed like the middle of the night so we could go running. As the three of us tried to keep up with him he dragged us to the gym to run on treadmills, challenged us to do push-ups and sit-ups, and we tried to keep up with him on running routes all around Orlando. None of us died on those runs.
Finally Tough Mudder race day arrived. We showed up wearing our super-awesome homemade t-shirts that said “Dad” or “Daughter”, respectively. A few of the other runners asked us, “Where’s mom?” Maybe someday she’ll join us but in 2022 she’s at home with the other seven kids.
My daughters and I ran, climbed, fell, swam, swung, crawled, pushed, pulled, carried and leaped our way through the 25 obstacles and after three hours completed the event together. I am so proud of those girls and the discipline, courage and endurance they showed that day. It was an awesome memory! I learned that I’m now in a phase of life where I can do new things with my kids and the girls learned they can do things they didn’t think possible. Well dad, what challenging thing can you do with your kids? Time flies! Make every moment count!
Jason Weening is counting down for the next 14 years until his other seven kids and one wife can all do Tough Mudder together. Stay tuned at heydads.ca.