At the Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, we like challenges. Most of these challenges are intellectual – welfare economics, regressions, memo writing, and cost-benefit analysis just to name a few. And all are necessary elements to becoming masters of public policy. But great leaders must also test themselves physically. Sometimes, all they need to reach that coveted “Master” level is a 10,000-volt shock to the leg.
This past Saturday, I participated in the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder with a group of five other accelerated and post-grad students. The Tough Mudder has raised over $3 million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project by challenging its participants’ mental and physical toughness, requiring teamwork and camaraderie to complete the 10.5 mile course. In short, it is a run through endless pools of mud (no big deal, right?). But, Frank Batten Sr. would only approve such a physical challenge if it included several ridiculous obstacles along the way. Twenty to be exact.
In just under four hours, Team Batten crawled under barbed wire and over annoyingly painful rocks; Ran a mile in the mud; Climbed and helped fellow “Mudders” over ten-foot walls covered in muck; Ran a mile in the mud; Dashed up half-pipes, diving at the last minute to grab the muddied open hands of bodybuilders and senior citizens alike, ready to catch and pull us over the edge; Ran a mile in the mud and rain during a tornado watch; VOLUNTARILY jumped into tanks filled to the brim with 33-degree ice water; Slowly jogged a mile in the mud; And yes, yes, even sprinted through a never-ending stretch of dangling live wires prepared to knock you to the ground with up to 10,000 volts of pure pain – otherwise known as “Electroshock Therapy.” Luckily, I made it through relatively unscathed, and was only shocked once. However, two of my teammates, Kaitlin Brennan and Byron Furtick, were not so lucky, and experienced three of these bone-rattling jolts. In my opinion, they will make better leaders because of it.
All in all, it was both a fantastic and miserable experience. Fantastic because of the teamwork and perseverance on display – watching a military veteran with two prosthetic legs marching through the same mud as I was an inspirational sight. Miserable because well…see above.
I’m not sure I would do it again, but it was a great escape from the everyday. It was also a great opportunity to act like a kid with a great group of friends. Sometimes, it’s quite refreshing to close those statistics & research methods books for minute, put away our problem sets, and go run in the mud.
Post by Patrick Fitzsimmons, Acc ’13