Tired, hungry, covered in mud and more than a little beat up and stiff, Doug Bowman is back in Lehighton after running in the world's first marathon distance obstacle race in Killington, Vt.
The races present the ultimate challenge for persons from throughout the United States to get off their couch and start living. Beginners to hard core warriors, and marathon runners alike gather to run up and down the Killington mountain, testing themselves against grueling obstacles including mud runs. The physically and mentally- challenging course, which is run in a timed race environment, is not for the faint of heart.
In order to qualify, Doug had to finish in the top five percent of a Tough Mudder event. He competed in four in the past year and finished in the top five percent in all of them. The World's Toughest Mudder event held in New Jersey consisted of a 8.5 mile loop run as many times as possible in a 24-hour period period.
In order to compete in the Vermont event, Doug also had to write an essay telling organizers why he wanted to take part. Only then was his registration form accepted.
While thousands of runners opted for the regular Beast Spartan Race, (13.1 miles and 25 obstacles), Doug, 43, was one of the 366 who opted to take on the grueling Ultra Beast, which is double the Beast Spartan Race course. He pushed himself through the tough course to meet his personal goal of finishing the 26.2 miles in just under 11 hours.
Of the 366 who began the Ultra Beast, 156 finished and 69 of them finished the event in less than 11 hours.
"My personal goal was to do the Ultra Beast in under 11 hours because you receive a free Spartan season pass," Doug said.
Doug actually ran about 31 miles because he got off course and had to double back and then redo the section he had just done. The detour might have stopped some people, but for Doug and the other 40 or so "Lost Tribe" who lost their way, they made their choice to do it all again.
During the detour, Doug was among those who scaled craggy cliffs, which were not part of the originally organized Ultra Beast course. The challenges also included climbing over barbed wire, some swimming, climbing on rope ladders and running through the woods, dry creek beds (some filled with water), while criss-crossing Killington ski slopes in every conceivable direction.
Doug ended up 65th overall and 10th in his age group, which was exceptional for a guy who never considered himself athletic while growing up.
"I never participated in athletics in high school," he said, "but I did a lot of work. My dad ran a retail lumber mill and we were always busy. I never dreamed I could do what I am doing."
Doug's journey into marathons and pushing his body to the limit began a few years ago when he won a weight loss contest sponsored by his employer. More important than winning the cash prize, he lost 34 pounds in that competition and since then, has gone on to lose 40 pounds more.
"It's a commitment to train," admitted Doug.
To prepare for the Killington event, Doug trained by hiking up and down mountains with a 40 pound sack of sand in his backpack.
Doug fortified himself along the long drive to Vermont with a box of Mallow Cups, sunflower seeds, protein bars and chocolate protein mix. He said his favorite treat is a mixture of plain fat free yogurt, chocolate protein mix and peanut butter, blended together to make his own version of a milkshake.
As a reward for his tired legs and wet and muddy clothes, Doug received a glow in the dark medal and one of a kind T-shirt. Another benefit that can't seen, but experienced by all the participants, was the right to be called an Ultra Beast finisher.
Anyone who would like to train with Doug or sponsor him for this world class event should contact him at 570-406-8407 or see Doug Bowman/Lehighton on Facebook.