It would be an understatement to say Al Stevens isn’t afraid to get a little dirty for a good cause.
The 76-year-old veteran and Sicamous resident will likely become downright filthy as he makes his way through mud and ice, over walls and beneath barbed wire during the June 18 Tough Mudder event at Whistler.
This will, in fact, be Stevens’ third go at a Tough Mudder event. This time around, however, his motivation isn’t just the challenge of getting through the 20 obstacles along the 16- to 20-kilometre course, it’s the fundraiser tied to the event. Stevens and other mudders are raising funds for Wounded Warriors Canada, a veteran’s charity with a focus on mental health.
Stevens says he doesn’t have a monetary goal but, as a veteran with 40 years plus one day of military service, he just wants to help get help to other Canadian veterans who need it.
“I would like to reach whatever I can of course because I really believe the government can’t fill a lot of those gaps that happen and they’re not in a position to,” said Stevens. “Whereas, a lot of people closer to the individual thing know some other stuff that’s necessary that can’t be legislated, and that’s kind of what I’m aiming for.”
While he doesn’t consider himself an exercise fanatic, Stevens says he runs often to keep in good health.
“I guess I always have figured you sort of owe it to yourself and everyone else to do what you can to keep yourself in good shape or healthier or whatever,” said Stevens.
As for his involvement with Tough Mudder events, Stevens says he went along with his spouse’s grandkids the first time and has been doing it on his own since, noting he makes a point of completing every obstacle, no matter how many times he has to try.
“People have their own criteria I guess. Mine, like a lot of them, is to complete every one and to do it within what you consider your own personal time, even though it’s not a race per se, you set a goal for yourself,” said Stevens.
Stevens’ age plays prominently in his Tough Mudder fundraising bio (available at https://www.crowdrise.com/wounded-warriors). He says there aren’t many his age who take part in such events, but that doesn’t means he receives any special treatment.
“Once your hair is covered in mud and that, nobody knows and everybody out there is grunting and groaning in their own thing,” said Stevens. “Even though people help each other, when you’re tired and trying to get yourself out of ice water, you kind of think of yourself.
“There are a few people who come up, mostly after you’re finished, they’ll come up and say, ‘wow, you’re that old.’ But during the event, people are probably more occupied with getting through their immediate obstacle.”
Tough Mudder training for Stevens involves running and calisthenics.
He says he doesn’t go to gyms, but makes do with what’s available around him.
“If I need a gym, I’ll put a chin-up bar something and just go,” said Stevens. “I mean, the whole world is a gym if you really want to use it. You can pick up rocks, you can carry rocks up a hill when you go, and B.C. is great, it’s full of hills. Whatever you need is there if you want it. Those who want a gym, fill their boots, that’s their business. I just do it on my own.”
While Stevens is grateful for the donations, he asks that people donate through the legion or the fundraising website, as he doesn’t want to touch a penny of what’s donated.
“I’ve had people come up and want to hand me the money and no, I don’t touch it,” said Stevens. “Perception is so damned important; I just refuse to even let them hand me it.”
Asked what goes through one’s head after completing a Tough Mudder event, Stevens says you’re glad to have finished.
“Right after you’re finished you get a high because you did do it,” said Stevens. “But sometimes prior to it, day after day when you’re trying to train, you wonder if it’s worthwhile. You meet the whole spectrum, you go right through the, ‘yes, oh boy,’ and the ‘oh shit!’ It just happens that way. I think that happens to most people in most everything.”
To learn more about the upcoming Whistler event, and Tough Mudder in general, visit https://toughmudder.com/events/2016-whistler.