The Tough Mudder race is appropriately named–it’s a tough, 10-12 mile race set on a mountain in Vermont, so it comes complete with hills, rocky terrain, forests…oh, and man-made obstacles. Let’s also not forget the mud; there’s almost always lots of mud.

On Saturday, June 6, West Dover, VT plays host to the New England Tough Mudder race. Participating teams will battle through the grueling three and a half hour course, which promises to test the physical and mental prowess of anyone who decides to run it. It is, as the Tough Mudder website says, “More than a fitness challenge, it is a set of values lived out on the course, and in everyday life.”

One team taking part is the Wilton Mudder Fathers, made up of 14 Wilton friends who understand these values and take them to heart. Team member Brian Fitzgerald is an avid exerciser, like all of his fellow teammates, who originally bonded as members of a local running club called the Cranberry Crew.

We would meet on Saturday and Sunday mornings when our kids were babies and we would go running through town or do different treks around town to stay in shape. For many years we would do 5K’s, 10K’s, and half marathons together,” Fitzgerald says.

After a while, the group of guys wanted a different kind of physical challenge. Fitzgerald and his friends decided to form their Mudder Fathers team. But unlike most teams who attend the race, the Mudder Fathers decided to race for a cause, and raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project.

“The guys all have diverse business backgrounds and we are trying to raise some money for something that we all feel very strongly about, the wounded warriors,” Fitzgerald explains. “We raised over $10,000 last year and we are off to a good start this year. We all feel strongly about these warriors who have given most of their lives to give us the great lives that we have in a town like Wilton. If you really look at it, raising a little money for these guys to try and make their lives better for everything that they have done for us is great. Everyone feels very passionate about it.”

The team has raised more than $6,000 already this year, and that’s just with all of the donations coming from team members themselves. Fitzgerald says it demonstrates how much the Wilton guys really care about the men and women who have served our country.

“Every one of these guys knows someone who was in the military, whether they were an officer or enlisted basically after high school. Where I grew up in New Jersey, a couple of my really good friends served in the military. When you look at what the wounded warriors project does, these guys can use all the help they can get, but we live in a great town, we are blessed,” he says.

Fitzgerald and his team will drive up to Vermont on Friday, June 5, as they get ready for the race. That night, the team will have a great dinner, as they use their time to bond with each other and continue to grow their already-strong friendships. The next morning, they will wake up, and be off running at 8 a.m..

“We will run the race together, and hopefully all get done at around three and a half hours. All 14 guys will run as a team together, and just help each other. The whole theme of being a Tough Mudder and what its about ties back to the wounded warriors project. We are all going to run it together, and we are going to help each other get through it,” Fitzgerald says.

Donations to the Wounded Warriors Project, via the Mudder Fathers’ efforts are welcome. To donate, visit their team page.