The Methow is well known for its serious athletes and now a new breed of hard-core competitors is springing up: the tough mudders.

Tough Mudder is an international company that puts on events consisting of 10-12 mile, military-style obstacle courses. Designed by British Special Forces units, the courses challenge contestants’ physical and mental stamina. Proceeds from the events, which are held all over the world, are used to support the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides combat stress recovery programs, adaptive sports programs, counseling, and employment services for injured veterans.

Tedra Acheson filled me in on a Tough Mudder event that she and four other Methow women, along with her brother, recently participated in. Incentive was provided by Laurie Miller, who entered a Tough Mudder event with her son Josh last year and was enthusiastic about competing again.

Laurie got Tedra, Midge Cross, Pat Leigh, Patty Christensen, and Tedra’s brother, Jon-Eric Stone, to form a team with her and after a training period the group headed off to Whistler, B.C., for the event.

Tough Mudder events are not timed races; rather, they are a series of obstacles that require teamwork in order to complete. Teamwork and camaraderie are valued above speed, and at the start of each event all mudders recite a pledge promising to help others – regardless of which team they’re on – along the way.

Tedra says that she found her mental and physical limits on the Whistler Tough Mudder, which included obstacles with names like “Boa Constrictor” and “Devil’s Beard.”

You’re wet and muddy throughout the entire race, says Tedra, thanks to an initial obstacle called “Arctic Enema,” which involves jumping into a dumpster full of ice water and ducking under a barrier to reach the other side, followed by the “Kiss of Mud,” in which participants slither on their bellies under barbed wire. (Obstacles like these make the 12-foot high walls of the Berlin Wall seem like a walk in the park.)

But the worst by far were the two electricity-based obstacles. “The Electric Eel” forced participants into a low crawl under live electric wires carrying up to 10,000 volts, which was good practice for “Electro Shock Therapy” – the final obstacle– in which participants sprint through a muddy field with live wires dangling at head height.

Tedra says she “got a good zap” on her forehead on that one, but like the rest of her team, Tedra is one tough mudder and didn’t let a few thousand volts of zap prevent her from finishing the event.