For 24 hours from December 17 to 18, Ojai resident, Juliana Sproles, participated and became the first woman to finish — placing third overall — the World’s Toughest Mudder obstacle course competition held at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. Sproles, a fitness instructor who runs Boku ReBoot, completed six laps of 10-12 miles each and prevailed over 40 different obstacles designed by the British Special Forces in the process of claiming her title and a cash prize of $10,000.
Sproles, mother of two, took time out of her day to personally inspire those of readers who made a New Year’s resolution to get little tougher. In an interview with The Independent, she explains how she made it through the most exhausting physical test of her life.
How do you feel about completing a race that 90 percent of the 1,000 participants failed to even finish?
I’m in awe. I’m still in awe. I always knew I could do it but you know it really helped to tell everyone around me that I was doing it. I made it known, you know? I told everyone about the $10,000 check and then towards the end I told myself I better win that check because too many people know about it! The fans were also so amazing. Towards the end, there are these huge mud holes with a thick layer of ice and you’re just up to your neck in mud. We had to keep cracking the ice to keep going and I was so exhausted, but my friends and family and these young girls on the sideline just kept yelling, “It’s yours! Keep going! Almost there! That check is yours!” It really helped me push past my physical limits.
I heard two of your toes were frostbitten.
Throughout the course, my toes went numb, and I just kept praying that the feeling would come back. But they stayed numb because of the nature of the course. I was climbing walls and going through icy mud and water, and at the end, in the morning, it was too cold for them to warm up at all. The medics from the event detained me in the hospital to take care of them, and I stayed for a while before my friends and family broke me out. I just wanted to be home resting.
How did you get into these types of competitions?
I started running when I was 13, and, later in college, I met a 70-year-old woman who was training for a triathlon. She explained what it was and I thought, “Wow, I better get going if I want to be like her at that age!” I think everyone wants to be able to be active and pick up their grandkids and stay strong when they’re older. So, as soon as we finished talking, I walked across the street and bought a blue Schwinn and started training. Triathlons led to Ironman competitions and the rest is history. I’m signed up for a couple events and even thinking of doing a competition in Australia. I haven’t made that public until now.
Do you have any words of inspiration, especially to young female athletes who may look up to you?
Just to get out there, get going. Keep moving and pushing yourself, and get your ego out of the way. So many times, we talk ourselves out of what we really want because our own self is in the way. Be positive, laugh, don’t let the physical aspect of it scare you. Your mind is stronger than you think. Women are said to have a higher tolerance for pain, but it takes a lot of work physically and mentally to keep moving. Just don’t quit.
These types of competitions have an emphasis on camaraderie. Do you also implement this type of friendly competition in your Boku Bootcamps?
Well, we are re-naming it ReBoot because people have a bad association with the term Bootcamp. ReBoot is about balance. Everyone needs balance between the physical and mental, and everyone needs positive reinforcement for both. We don’t emphasize being competitive. At the beginning of class, I try to explain that you don’t show up just for yourself. You should show up every day because you never know who you will inspire. Everyone can inspire the person next to them to push their limits and find their inner strength. All it takes is showing up to really start succeeding.
Are you considering doing the Toughest Mudder Competition again?
Of course! We’ve got to defend our title!
I also want to say that I couldn’t have done it without Boku Superfoods. They are beyond amazing, and I owe a lot to them! My family and friends and the community of Ojai also helped to inspire me and always keep me moving. Without everyone, I couldn’t have been so successful.