Challenge Accepted: Aqua's Tough Mudders

Billed as “Ironman meets Burning Man,” Tough Mudder challenges, which are held throughout the world, are not just mud races. Rather, they are 10- to 12-mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces “to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.” 

The desire to challenge oneself personally — on so many levels — is exactly what drew Aqua employees to the Tough Mudder challenge. Chris Luning, senior vice president and general counsel  for Aqua America, was one of the first at Aqua to take on the Tough Mudder. 

After completing his first challenge two years ago, he encouraged two colleagues at Aqua to sign up for a Tough Mudder. His persistence became the catalyst in turning Tom Rafferty, director of corporate development at AquaCapital Ventures , into a fellow Tough Mudder.

Luning’s example also paved the way for Fred Martino, senior associate of investor relations at Aqua America, to become a Tough Mudder. “Luning convinced me basically to get involved in mud runs and trail running and these military-style obstacle courses,” Martino said. 

While Luning, Rafferty and Martino were gearing up for Tough Mudder, they didn’t realize another Aqua employee was also training for the event. It wasn’t until just a few days before that they found out, by chance, that Joseph McBride, director of IT communications and call center technology for Aqua America, was a fellow Mudder.

All their training helped prepare the Aqua Mudders for the obstacles they faced the day of the challenge. Some actually emerged as favorites. For instance, the “Walk the Plank” obstacle, which involves jumping off a plank into a freezing-cold pond, was one of Luning’s favorites.

While making it through these obstacles was remarkable, McBride said the most amazing part of the whole event was the camaraderie. “Everybody checked on each other, even people you didn’t know,” he said. 

After a weekend spent on a Tough Mudder, these four Aqua employees had a lot to discuss back at the office on Monday morning. Co-workers also noticed the buzz surrounding the event.

Not only did colleagues look at the men in a new light, the men began to look at each other differently. Although Luning, Rafferty and Martino were friends before the challenge, they became closer afterwards.


Learn more about Tough Mudders

What is Tough Mudder?

Tough Mudders helps raise money for Wounded Warrior Project



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