In this Community Spotlight, we caught up with recent Hall of Famer, Jennifer Hazell. As she’s recently achieved 100 Tough Mudders, it was the perfect time to reflect on her story and journey with Tough Mudder.
From the first dirty weekender to being crowned at her 100th.
What’s Your First Memory of Tough Mudder?
I didn’t know what Tough Mudder was. My husband, Richard Hazell, told me that he was taking me away for a ‘dirty weekend’ and we would be ‘volunteers’ for the day. I knew I was going camping and needed comfy clothes and good shoes, apart from that, I knew nothing.
Who Did You Take On Your First Tough Mudder With Or Did You Go Solo?
I have run almost every event, apart from the competitive stuff, with Rich, my husband. We are a team.
What Drove You To Take Part In A Tough Mudder?
I have a long list of illnesses and injuries. I am classed as disabled as I have epilepsy, hypermobility, and I am also asthmatic. I am also a breast cancer survivor from back in 2000.
I had a nasty accident in 2012. I fractured my spine (T11) when I stepped out of the bath and slipped. I was then misdiagnosed and sent home. I was told there was nothing wrong with me, 3 months later, I accidentally overdosed as I was in so much pain. I saw a locum doctor who said my back didn’t feel right and sent me for an X-Ray. It was then confirmed I had a crush fracture to my spine. but it was too late to treat it. My weight then increased massively to nearly 21 stone. I was comfort eating and struggling. To be honest, at that point, I wanted to die, I had given up.
Rich helped me to improve my strength and start to lose the weight, by starting with swimming to cycling to then a gym membership.
He then told me about taking me away for a ‘dirty weekend’. We volunteered at Tough Mudder South West 2015 and had the best fun but were utterly shattered too. He also told me not to worry and we’d be going out in the ‘first wave’ the next day. I didn’t even know what that meant. But, we got into the start pen and the atmosphere was insane. We got around the course and then when I realised we were right at the end, Rich grabbed my hand and we ran up the final hill together. I started to cry as it meant the world to me. We booked the next event within 3 days.
Are There Any Standout Memories Or Stories From Over The Years and Various Events?
There are far too many to mention. I have been honored to be part of this group. The kindness and the attitude from so many has been incredible. A lot of people know me by sight but don’t actually know me. This is one of the places I don’t feel as pre-judged (it does happen, but wearing my headband when I run gives me something as proof and also reminds me, I have earned my place).
One memory was the Rocky Horror Run. That was the best fun. We also all ran as Disney characters and me and Rich went as pirates.
Podiuming first in my age group at Virtual Equinox during lockdown. I have never podiumed in my life – and I know it was only the virtual – but I have it in writing and that’s good enough for me.
I think one of my favourite memories was finding Emma, Matt, Tom, Matt and Joe. Emma and Joe are brother and sister. They have the most pure unconditional love that I have ever seen. This was at Yorkshire in 2018. I was volunteering on Camp Check-in when I met them. They were first-time runners. Emma told me that she was running the Half with her brother on Sunday, she was so excited. Emma told me Joe has Down Syndrome and is autistic.
On the Sunday, we were all in the start pen. I looked over and saw Emma, she sneakily pointed at Joe with such a look of pride. I then saw a Liverpool shirt and just grinned (sorry not sorry – been a fan for 40 years). We had a whole conversation without words just pointing around and nodding and grinning.
Our paths crossed again at Mud Mile and all of them were there. Emma looked scared. Joe didn’t like the look of it at all. We said – Joe will go to what he knows – he won’t care what’s behind him. You guys all go up. Joe waded in. He could see his sister at the top of the mud. When we all slid down together, it was almost waist-deep. That particular year, there was an MC with a microphone on Mud Mile. I jumped out at this point to speak to him as we knew we had something special. I got the MC to chant Joe, Joe Joe, Joe repeatedly. They all started jumping up and down and he then felt it through the water (I’m crying as I type this by the way)… he was so happy, he was punching the air and bouncing with everyone else. The chant was picked up all around by everyone. They had no idea who or why – they just joined in.
We got Joe out of mud mile at the end – he turned around and wanted another go. They had to drag him away. They turned off again as they were on the half. Out of nowhere two very very clean-looking people in blue jackets came running at us. It was confusing as we had no idea what was going on. They told us they were Emma and Joe’s Mum and Dad and that nobody had ever done that for them before. I told them – welcome to the Tough Mudder Family – it’s what we do.
They all came back and ran the Full in 2019. They were due to bring Joe’s entire class to Tough Mudder in 2020, but Covid hit. We are all still in contact and are due to see them all in Yorkshire again this year. We love them all dearly.
As You Hit Your 100th Tough Mudder, Do You Have Any Tips For People That Haven’t Taken Part Or Are Hesitant To?
Follow the training you are sent after booking – it works.
There is always another mudder willing to help – you are never alone.
Sunscreen and decent shoes with some grip – watch the weather forecast.
If I can – you can !!!
Any Big Plans To Celebrate Your 100th?
Not really, we thought about fancy dress but the cost for everyone is ridiculous if we all have to buy new costumes. We just want to run with the people we love and are hoping to have a BBQ afterwards. We are hoping that as many that can, will join us on the 15K on the Saturday at South West.
Worlds Toughest Mudder. This will be Rich only. He went last year and didn’t achieve what he wanted (I just want to see a bit of Dallas).
Next year we have a massive road trip planned across British Columbia, Canada for my 50th Birthday so won’t have as much holiday to be able to travel to as many of the events that are farthest away.
Book Onto An Upcoming Event
After hearing Jen’s story, if you feel inspired to join the community and take on a challenge of your own, book onto an upcoming event for 2023.
If you need more time, we also have events live for 2024.
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