Student named Tough Mudder

By KeAndre Worthy

NIU is home to one of the World’s Toughest Mudders.

Graduate student Matthew Hanson took fourth place overall, first in his division, in the World’s Toughest Mudder competition. The event was held Nov. 15 to 17 in Englishtown, N.J.

During the competition, participants “run laps of a brutally difficult course featuring a healthy dose of the world’s most challenging obstacles. The winner will be the Mudder that completes the greatest number of laps in the 24-hour period,” according to

Hanson said he was a high school athlete in swimming and track, but he didn’t really enjoy running until his first Tough Mudder competition.

“In the summer of 2012 I ran my first Tough Mudder with my sister, Mary, and fell in love with it,” Hanson said. “A few weeks later I got an email explaining that myself and Mary had run fast enough to qualify for the World’s Toughest Mudder. The next day I changed my cardio from 10 minutes on a treadmill to a 9-mile run.”

Each lap of the race contained 22 obstacles. Several of the obstacles involved being completely submerged in water, and one involved water and electricity, according to the Tough Mudder website.

“The hardest part is finding the time; I am at graduate school at Northern Illinois University and I work for the university, too,” Hanson said. “I take all the time I can find. If I have an hour or more of downtime in my day you can bet I’ll hit the gym or go for a run.”

Hanson was one of only 19 complete finishers out of 275 starters, according to the Tough Mudder website.

Hanson said he is thankful for Sycamore CrossFit, which he said is a huge component in his training.

“My future plans are to be a school counselor. I would really like to head back and work in my home town of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. As far as running, there is only one logical plan,” Hanson said. “I am going back to win the World’s Toughest Mudder in 2014. I will be spending the next 12 months sharpening my teeth on marathons, half marathons, 10K and 50-mile races.”