Man and man’s best friend get “ruff”

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Dogs and their owners flocked to Cooper’s Lake in Slippery Rock, Saturday and Sunday to participate in the Tough Mudder and the Ruff Mudder by Chewy. 

The Tough Mudder exists in 19 countries around the globe and has 120 events around the world; however, this is the inaugural year of the partnership between the Tough Mudder and Chewy to form the Ruff Mudder by Chewy. 

Lisa-Marie Curti, the brand marketing manager of communications for Chewy, said that the Ruff Mudder in Slippery Rock was the seventh event out of 10 planned this year and about 150 dogs were expected. When the opportunity to partner with the Tough Mudder arose, Curti said that it made perfect sense to do so. 

“My favorite part is talking to all the people and hearing all the amazing stories about people and their dogs, what connects them together, and how dogs and animals make their lives better,” Curti said. 

One runner, Christine Stark from upstate New York, ran the Tough Mudder with her son that morning and proceeded to run the Ruff Mudder with her dog Sig, a German Shepard who flunked out of police training.  Stark has been a Spartan racer for several years but is running in the Tough Mudder for the first time. 

Stark said that she originally heard about the Ruff Mudder form her daughter in law and was excited that her dog Sig could travel with her.  Sig and Stark’s husband ran a dog biathlon two years ago, but this is the first Ruff Mudder they have ran in. 

“Sig doesn’t love being on a leash,” Stark said. “He likes being able to run with us.” 

Stark said she loved the Tough Mudder and if they keep doing events such as the Ruff Mudder, she’ll keep coming back with Sig. 

The Ruff Mudder and Tough Mudder alike are both about community and teamwork. Kyle Mclaughlin, CEO of Tough Mudder since January of 2019, has been working in the industry his entire career after previously working with the New York City Marathon for 10 years. 

“The best thing is the community,” Mclaughlin said. “We have people here who dedicate their lives to being a part of the Tough Mudder, because for them it’s being part of a family. It’s being able to come out and do something where they are in a safe space and environment where they get to escape their everyday lives and play like they’re kids.”

The Tough Mudder draws participants both locally and broadly. Slippery Rock students can run for free by volunteering with the Tough Mudder for a day. Although some students may not have volunteered, there were a few that took on the challenge of the Tough Mudder. 

Amir Hill-Davis, a senior homeland security major with minors in writing and Arabic, participated in the Tough Mudder both Saturday and Sunday to challenge himself after falling off an obstacle he said he should have beat.

“There are some obstacles that you need teamwork to get through,” Hill-Dyavis said. “Everyone is helping each other.”

Sharing a common theme of community, one SRU student was a part of a group that ran the Tough Mudder with Envision Sports, an organization that provides sport and physical activity opportunities for individuals who are blind or have visual impairments.

Britany Andrews, a junior school wellness education major with minors in adapted physical activity and aquatics, was introduced to the Tough Mudder in her adaptive disability sport class. 

Andrews said that her team ran with three blind individuals and hopes to run next year as a part of Envision Sports again. 

“It was great to see how brave and fearless these individuals were,” Andrews said. 

Whether participating in the Tough Mudder, running with man’s best friend in the Rough Mudder or simply going to watch, the event brought the Tough Mudder community together and plans to do the same at their events in Seattle on Sept. 21, Nashville on Oct. 5 and Central Florida in December. 

“We don’t compete [in the Tough Mudder],” Mclaughlin said. “This isn’t a race, it’s a challenge, often a challenge against yourself and your own fear.”

To challenge yourself and participate in future Tough Mudders or Rough Mudders, visit toughmudder.com and follow @Chewy on social media.  

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