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Newsday (New York)
Some new construction at Old Bethpage Village Restoration is shocking and chilling.
Wires are being installed to deliver electric jolts to people, and preparations are being made for a run through an ice bath.
Then there's making sure that everything involves lots and lots and lots of mud.
Yes, all of this can mean only one thing: It's time for this year's Tough Mudder Long Island events, scheduled to take place July 21 and at the historic, living museum site. The activities are advertised by the Brooklyn-based active lifestyle brand as "best-in-class challenges and adrenaline-packed obstacles" for anyone who wants to push their limits.
On July 21, there's the Tough Mudder Full, with 10 miles and 20 obstacles, and the Half, with five miles and 10 obstacles.
On July 22, the Tough Mudder 5K will be held for the first time, featuring three miles and 10 obstacles.
ABOUT THE COURSE
"There's a lot of running mixed with some obstacles [the 5K], but it's without the extreme elements of ice or electricity - some obstacles have that - it's a little insane," says David Cooper, a Tough Mudder spokesman.
That Tough Mudder events don't involve timed races or winners and losers will not make those considering the challenge crazy. Teamwork rules the day.
"It's not competitive, you just try to complete it and help everyone through the obstacles," Cooper says. "The Full has everything and the 5K is kind of your entry into obstacle-course racing. Your Half is for folks who might want to test things out and are athletes."
Tough Mudder events are held throughout the country, and Cooper says there are always all types of people participating for different reasons.
"You could be someone on a weight-loss journey, someone overcoming an illness or someone just challenging themselves," Cooper says.
Tough Mudder operations manager Evert Sers, who oversees the team that handles the design of the obstacle courses, says participants can expect the unexpected.
"The obstacles are sort of consistent [from year to year], but there are a few little curveballs," Sers says.
A new extreme challenge this year will be Kong Infinity, an obstacle involving barrels and dangling from rings 20 feet in the air.
But the extremes don't stop there. There are extremes among the participants.
Richard Falcones, 33, of Huntington, will be participating in Tough Mudder for the first time as part of his weight-loss journey, while Darth Vader - yes, that's the 46-year-old's legal name - is a lower-leg amputee from Canandaigua in upstate Ontario County who's done more than 100 events.
"I have a never-quit, never-give-up-attitude," Vader says.
Both men plan to participate in the Full Mudder on July 21.
Falcones, the Village of Flower Hill superintendent of public works, weighed 340 pounds a year and a half ago. "It was a lot to carry around at a young age," Falcones says. By eating right and working out at the gym, he says he has lost 140 pounds. His goal weight is "190ish."
It's now time to challenge himself by trying Tough Mudder, Falcones says. He notes that he's stepped up his gym workout in preparation, and adds, "I'm ready." He'll participate along with some other first-timers he knows, including his brother, his brother's girlfriend and some neighbors.
Vader, a former Marine who suffered his leg injury while playing recreational softball in 1995, has completed 101 Tough Mudders, four marathons, 103 half-marathons, 15 triathlons and the 2014 World's Toughest Mudder three times.
There also will be something new at the finish - of course called Happy Ending. An ever-changing human pile is formed to see which team can climb to the top of a wall covered with plastic that's at a 40-degree incline.
"Long Island will be a very different field from the year before because the obstacles will change 40 [percent] to 50 percent," says Nolan Kombol of Brooklyn, an avid climber who heads the course design team. He adds, however, "It's the interaction you have with the people around you that makes the day."
How does all this mudslinging happen in a historic venue without causing damage?
"We're careful because we're working within the restoration village, so we try to use as much of the course as possible, but we don't want to leave a footprint," Sers says.
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