Vernon high school teacher Cliff Acob had some unfinished business in Englishtown, N.J. last weekend.
He wasn’t closing a real estate deal or checking on a long lost friend in need. Instead, Acob, 42, went back for a second try at the World’s Toughest Mudder.
The extreme competition puts the world’s most hardcore Mudders through a grueling 24-hour challenge designed to find the toughest man, woman, and four-person team on the planet.
Last year, Acob and Aaron Hoffman, also a teacher at VSS, fell short of 40 miles, as the brutal course and freezing temperatures forced them to quit before the 24-hour mark.
The 2013 course changed from the previous 10 miles and 32 obstacles circuit to five miles and 22 obstacles. After reaching the 50-mile mark in 19 hours and the weather above freezing, Acob took on the World’s Toughest Muder, completing 12 laps in 24 hours and 56 minutes. He placed 117th overall, and 17th in his age category.
“I thought I should keep going for the full 24 hours,” said Acob, a father of four. “Challenges leading up to the race was fitting in the back-to-back five-hour training days, and still having the responsibility of being dad. I really thank my wife for this.”
Acob has done two Ironman Canadas and enjoys mountain biking, skiing, canoeing and rock climbing. He specialized in the sprints and long jump while at Seattle Pacific University.
“Race day challenges included trying to keep hydrated since I just got over the flu two days prior to the race. The Electric Eel is always a shocking challenge. You just never know when and what part of your body will compulsively contort. If you’re unlucky to get it in the head, you experience the brain reboot.
“The Leap of Faith was a mind-over-matter obstacle. When your body is tired at 95-km, you have to mentally prepare your body to run at full speed in order to clear the 15-foot gap. Everest is a quarter-pipe that you’ll have to sprint up. Everest is coated in mud and grease, a combination which will likely send you right back from where you came. As the sign says ‘After your 10th attempt at Everest, the water starts to look warmer.’ The water was a 200-m cold swim.”
Tough Mudder events are obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test an athletes’ all-around strength, stamina and mental grit before getting handed a beer at the finish. There is mud, fire, ice-water and 10,000 volts of electricity everywhere as competitors climb 12-foot walls and crawl through tunnels.
Organizers describe the premise as a way of thinking, where entrants unlock a true sense of accomplishment, have a great time, and discover a unique camaraderie with fellow Mudders.