About Dan & The Obstacle Life

TM Swingers PicWelcome to my online obstacle racing mind-dump, The Obstacle Life.

I’m an endurance and obstacle racer, a freelance writer and editor, and a craft beer and buffalo wing enthusiast … not necessarily in that order. Calling myself an “endurance and obstacle racer” sounds weird, especially considering where I started from.

Back in the fall of 2010, after (barely) finishing a Warrior Dash in New York where I thought I was going to have a heart attack, a friend mentioned that something called a “Tough Mudder” was coming to New England the following spring. My response to her was “No way in Hell.”

You see, a 3-mile Warrior Dash had just almost killed me. I had never run more than 5 miles in my life (and hated that). And I was pushing 40. There was no chance of me signing up to do a 10-to-12-mile race, forget about one with obstacles and on a mountain (the Tough Mudder was at Mount Snow, Vermont).

But a few weeks later, a few other friends told me they were signing up for it. No hesitation. They were going to take it on. I was surprised. I thought I was at least in as good a shape as these guys were, but while I was chickening out, they were stepping up.

I signed up with them. My fear of the race motivated me to train like I never had before, and when I showed up, a funny thing happened. I didn’t get tired. I felt strong. About six or seven miles into the race, I noticed that many guys in their 20s looked like they were struggling, but I still felt great. I completed the course in what people told me was a good time, and I couldn’t wait to take it on again.

DAN WTM PHOTO 2013 (5)The next year I set a goal to run it fast enough to qualify for World’s Toughest Mudder (you had to qualify back in 2012) and run the Vermont Tough Mudder twice. Again, motivated, I trained like crazy and showed up in even better shape. I accomplished both goals — two feats that had quite literally been unimaginable to me just 18 months earlier. I began to be curious just how far I could push things.

Since that time, I’ve taken on Spartan Beasts, 8-hour winter obstacle races, and World’s Toughest Mudder three times (including getting 65 miles in 2016). With this motivation, I’ve also been able to roll back the clock. I’m now pushing 45. But I’m nearly 20 pounds lighter than when I started this journey, my doctor tells me I’ve gotten so healthy he calls me “un-American,” and I’m continuing to set new goals. This year, I’m tackling my first Spartan UltraBeast in New Jersey, and in November I hope to take on World’s Toughest Mudder again, with my sights now set on the elusive 75-mile silver bib.

The Obstacle Life is a place for me to dump my random racing and training thoughts, to talk about obstacle racing and endurance events, and share videos I find interesting. Most of all, I hope it can be a source of information and inspiration for other people (especially middle-aged folks like me) who want to stay fit and continue to challenge themselves.

If you have comments, questions, want to share your own story or advice, or just want to say “Hi,” drop me an email at theobstaclelife@gmail.com.

See you on the course,

Dan Mathers