Grandma is one Tough Mudder

tough mudder

“My Grandma is One Tough Mudder.”

So say the T-shirts of Laurie Galvan’s tiny grandsons.

Galvan completed her first grueling Tough Mudder event at age 49. Last month she completed her sixth, at age 53. Her goal is to do at least 10—then who knows what challenge she’ll take on next.

Tough Mudder courses across the U.S., Europe and Asia involve tackling military-style obstacles throughout a 10- to 12-mile run. Galvan’s latest Tough Mudder included running up Snowmass Mountain, gaining 2,700 feet in elevation—an obstacle in itself.

“I’m not into competition to be the best or the fastest but if I were 30 years younger I’d be training for American Ninja Warrior,” Galvan said.

For Galvan, participating in Tough Mudders is a personal challenge and a fitness goal to work toward. She is also proud to compete in an event that supports wounded warriors.

At 22, Galvan became one of just 12 female Colorado State Troopers. In 1993, she was hired by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and is now a patrol lieutenant.

“It’s been the right path for me,” Galvan said. “This is where all the fun and excitement happens. You’re not just at a desk all day long.”

Promoting fitness

“Back in my state patrol days you definitely had to do a lot of running and physical fitness,” she said. “It really became more of a focus when I started working at the sheriff’s office.”

She started weight lifting and getting back into shape after having her son.

“I got more interested in wanting to help out my fellow employees and promote health and fitness,” she said.

Galvan has certifications in fitness trainings and in sports nutrition. When Colorado Mesa University started a police academy in 2006, she became a liaison and instructor. Since then, she has developed a boot camp program taking place during the first six weeks at the academy.

“Working with the academy students really motivated me,” she said. “I try to inspire them on both their personal and family levels. You can get by with being unfit in the field, but it can literally be the difference between life and death.”

The Tough Mudder challenge

Galvan didn’t give any thought to advertisements about Tough Mudder competitions until a coworker asked if she was up to give it a try.

Because competitions are not timed and focus more on team camaraderie and personal goals, she signed up. With participants averaging 30 years old, she was in a league of her own.

“Five of us went to Utah in 2012. It was so cold and windy, we were just happy to survive the last two miles,” Galvan said. “The others said, ‘I’ll never do this again,’ but I was hooked! When you finish you are so exhausted. But when I look back I think that was quite a personal accomplishment—and really fun.”

Now her workouts were more purposeful because she was working toward a goal.

“The Tough Mudders gave me the extra spark to work on my endurance and upper body strength, and to push myself to get stronger and leaner for a purpose,” Galvan said. “Working out energizes you. I don’t like running but now I’m running to survive.”

Tough Mudder competitions are not about the race—they’re about helping each other finish. Their motto is “No Mudder Left Behind.”

“All the obstacles are to challenge you, play upon your fears, and help you overcome those fears,” Galvan said. “There’s always water and mud, confined dark spaces, high obstacles, low crawls in mud under barbed wire, some have fire, and the very last obstacle is called electroshock therapy, which is a 30-yard field of dangling wires you run through which zap you with 10,000 volts of electricity.”

Galvan has run the Mudder in Utah, Las Vegas and Snowmass and has her sights on Lake Tahoe, Southern California and Mesa, Arizona.

“I might want to try ‘The World’s Toughest Mudder’ some day,” Galvan said. “It’s a 5-mile course where you see how many times you can run it in 24 hours. For women, it’s usually 80-90 miles.”

She said there’s no room for whining when there are actual wounded warriors participating. Some are missing an arm or a leg, or are blind.

“If they can do this, I have nothing to complain about,” Galvan said.

Can-do attitude

This past July 4, Galvan climbed to the top of Independence Monument with the local search and rescue team.

“This is something I never would have dreamed I could have done before doing the Tough Mudders,” she said. “I always want to be able to say, ‘I choose to do this because I physically can.’ When you get older, it’s not so much about the quantity of life because nothing guarantees you’re going to have a long life. It’s all about the quality of life.”

Although Galvan said that things hurt more and are harder to do as one ages, there are two kinds of pain.

She said the pain of discipline is training yourself to continue to move and stay active, which actually makes things hurt less in the long run. The pain of regret is giving up and becoming sedentary, which makes things hurt so much more.

“Doing anything is better than doing nothing at all,” she said. “Just move every single day.”

Another Tough Mudder motto: “When is the last time you did something for the first time?”

Set a goal! Plan your race!

We’re not expecting you to make travel plans for the next Tough Mudder competition (let us know if you are) but there are plenty of challenging races in the area that allow you to start off small or go big! Here are some upcoming races to set your sights on.

October 9 – Powderhorn Piece of Cake Hill Climb

Close out the summer with an uphill race up Stagecoach. It should be a piece of cake, right? Race begins at 9 a.m. Call 268-5700 for details.

November 5 – Rim Rock Marathon

The Rim Rock Marathon is one of the most scenic marathons in Colorado. Runners will start in Grand Junction and wind up and over the Colorado National Monument and descend to the finish line at Circle Park in Fruita. The event will also feature a downhill half-marathon in the monument, a marathon relay, and the Fruita 0.038 Marathon, which is a one-mile run. Participants in the shorter races are invited to stay and cheer on the marathon winners as they cross the finish line and then enjoy live entertainment, vendors and a beer garden in Circle Park. Entry fees: $95 for marathon, $175 for marathon relay teams (two participants), $80 for half-marathon relay teams (two participants) and $10 for the 0.038 Marathon. Call 248-1469 or visit www.rimrockmarathon.com for details.

November 24 – Turkey Trot 5K

This 5K will be held in downtown Grand Junction and begins at 9 a.m. For details, call 210-0281.

November 12 –
Moab Senior Games Powerwalk/Racewalk

If you’re a fan of the Western Colorado Senior Games, you’ll love competing in Moab. Each division will have 400-, 800-, 1,500- and 2,000-meter races. Races are from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $7. For details, visit www.moabseniorgames.com or call 435-260-0161.

December 4 – Winterstart Nordic Race

Grand Mesa Nordic Council sponsors the Winterstart 5K Race (both classic and freestyle races) at the Skyway Trail System on the Grand Mesa. Entry fee is $25. For details, visit www.gmnc.org.

Melanie Wiseman

Melanie Wiseman

Melanie Wiseman is passionate about writing and loves sharing the stories of family, love, volunteering and adventure of the people she interviews. Raised in Wisconsin, she has called western Colorado home for more than 30 years. She loves traveling, reading, photography, hiking, camping, biking, cross-country skiing and exploring the outdoors with her husband, Dan, and Papillon, Abby.
Melanie Wiseman

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