Living in Toronto, Canada – but originally from New Zealand – Maria Beck, best known as ‘Mudder Hen’, is one of the 2016 Tough Mudder Ambassadors – leaders on the Tough Mudder course they’re the ones to “give you a boost over Berlin Walls, a hand at Everest, tips to get through Arctic Enema, or the motivation you need to push through each mile.” Mudder Hen has amazed people with her passion to spend countless hours offering encouragement and assisting others both on and off the course with administrative or personal difficulties.
Here’s just some of the comments I found online about her:
- “Mudder Hen is my go to person. She is freakishly committed to helping her fellow mudders!” J Perry
- “You’re an amazing person and our family was so lucky to meet you!!” R Marie
- “It’s an honor to know you Mudder Hen, you are awesome. Can’t wait to see you at World’s.” L Vaughn
- “Way to go, Mudder Hen! Not only a true mudder, but a true hero.” H Ann
ORNZ Interviews Maria Beck, aka Mudder Hen
ORNZ: In a previous interview you described the experience of running in a Tough Mudder as being like “butterflies and jet fuel combined in one big fireball”. Is the Tough Mudder experience still like that for you, or does it become more of a commonplace experience after being involved with many Tough Mudder events?
Maria: I still recall each event I have ran a TM, it brings me to smiles how I was feeling at the time. I’ll be running an event soon this year and I’m pretty sure I’ll feel the same as I did when I ran my first race. I try and lead into any race, be it an OCR or Ultra distance running event, as a first timer because it’s fulfilling to embrace the run as a first timer and experience how each event is constructed differently. No two events that I have ran are exactly the same. The distance may vary, the obstacles my vary, the terrain may vary due to weather or venue. The excitement is always nerving for me, but the accomplishment is just as rewarding as well. On the other side, I love volunteering. Giving back and supporting others is also rewarding for me, people truly appreciate help, support and encouragement. It’s a well rounded experience for me. Makes me smile seeing others feel the same as I do when I complete an event.
ORNZ: You started running in Tough Mudders while you were undergoing chemotherapy? Can you tell us more about that – and how running affected your experience with cancer?
Maria: It was a stressful time of my life, I was inspired by my Brother’s experience when he ran Melbourne TM, I searched the Internet and found a local Toronto TM event due to happen two weeks later and spontaneously I signed up for it. I wasn’t concerned for my safety, I was feeling reasonably well as I started my cancer journey. But I joined a team that helped me through so much by their kindness, laughter and support. It takes good people to make a lasting experience one of the best times of your life. Running a TM unlocked the insecurities about fear, the unknown and taking chances. I braved the unknown and while still cautious about the unknown, I am able to step forward with more confidence to tackle difficult challenges and feel ok with the outcome. TM enabled me to be more confident.
ORNZ: Why do you think Tough Mudder connects with so many people?
Maria: It’s empowering for so many people and invokes motivation, positivity and team work. TM offers many opportunities to connect with people you never knew but have helped, or be helped with obstacles because recognizing challenges isn’t a limitation, realizing the accomplishment is inspiring, the drug is the inspiration that is created when running this event. It’s a fireball of fun. Seeing so many people gladly open their support and event their generosity invite people to join forces to create a team, social event and spend time together for the common goal to have fun. People need fun, goodness knows there’s a lot of issues around the world, but a little fun is just want we all need to stay positive. TMs are fun.
ORNZ: You’re involved with the Hoorah2Heroes project. What is that and how does it fit-in with Tough Mudder?
Maria: H2H was cofounded by Sean Corvelle, Tough Mudders start line motivation man.
Working with Sean and other members of H2H, we recognize that there are heroes around us every day, and that you only need to look to see them. Whether it be the soldier who puts his or her needs second to protect our freedom; the person who gives of their own free time to help the poor and homeless at a local shelter; or the cancer patient who refuses to give up, and instead spreads the message of hope to others; there are heroes standing next to us in every direction. Our goal is to honor those individuals, and in doing so, we also hope to empower and inspire others to find the hero within themselves.
ORNZ: With your organisational skills have you ever thought about putting on your own obstacle race?
Maria: Engineering is not my strong attribute. I would gladly join forces and offer support and continue to promote as an ambassador for TM or any other OCR event to encourage anyone to have fun and get out there to experience an outrageously good time.
ORNZ: In 2014 Tough Mudder ran an event in New Zealand, but then unfortunately cancelled their return the following year. Do you know if Tough Mudder has plans to return to New Zealand again?
Maria: I defer to TMHQ to answer this question, they wrote:
“We had a great event in New Zealand in 2014, with more than 5,000 participants and spectators coming out to Hampton Downs Motorsport Park to experience the Tough Mudder challenge. We were pleased with the success of the event, but for 2015 and 2016 decided to focus resources on our events on the east coast of Australia, which always see strong Kiwi attendance, in order to bring new obstacles and experiences to participants. We do not currently have a future event scheduled in New Zealand, however we are continually reviewing our options to bring events to different regions across the globe.” – Carol Gottshall, Tough Mudder Communications Manager
ORNZ: Have you ever considered coming back to New Zealand to run in local OCRs and check out the community?
Maria: I would love to but with family and financial means, traveling to the other side of the globe just isn’t in the cards right now. NZ is home, thankful for social media I am able to maintain strong relationships within the OCR community and enjoy all the news Mudders have to share, it’s a pleasure reading their accomplishments and cheering them along the way.
ORNZ: Anything else you’d like to add?
Maria: TM has evolved in the obstacle course racing community and still stands strong as a fun, engaging and social way to participate and belong to a high engaging community. Go out there, meet some amazing Mudders and invest in what will change you on so many levels.
Pro tip: never be the middle Mudder when running through the Electric Shock Therapy obstacle, it’s shockingly memorable.
Thanks Maria for taking the time to answer some questions!
This article was originally published on the old Obstacle Racers NZ site in May 2016.