Phil Brillantes, 43, of Holt, completed his first Toughest Mudder in Detroit earlier this summer. The Toughest Mudder is an eight-hour endurance obstacle course race that takes place from 11:59 p.m. to 8 a.m. Brillantes, a sixth-grade teacher in Williamston, said that competing in the race has been a personal goal.
“In the past three years, I have really gotten myself into races of all types; road, trail and obstacle course,” he said. “I ran two marathons, two eight-hour obstacle course races, an ultramarathon, and over 25 other types of races. I prefer races a half marathon or longer. When I learned that Toughest Mudder was coming to Michigan, I knew I had to do this no matter what.”
He said the Toughest Mudder was his hardest race. “You are running five-mile laps throughout the night, with over 20 obstacles in each lap,” he said. “Your body slowly starts to physically deteriorate throughout the night, and then your mental fortitude kicks in to keep pushing you one step at a time.”
He finished top five in his age group, despite not training as hard as he wanted due to the rehab of a running injury.
“My goal was to simply see how far I could push when my body felt like it had enough, and to walk off with a smile on my face,” he said. “I achieved that! Getting 30 miles with the lack of training was just an extra bonus to this experience. My whole body was sore for a week and it was worth it!”
He said he is going to compete in a few more obstacle course races this fall, as well as a marathon, and hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Running is his favorite way to stay fit, however, he does mix it up when he can.
“I actually enjoy my long runs of 10+ miles because of that runner’s high your body and mind go through,” he said. “I also work out in boot camps at my gym, as well as HIIT training when I can. Obstacle course racing requires you to have grip strength as well as being able to carry heavy stuff up hills, which I practice weekly. I will throw in Pilates and Yoga every so often.”
His advice to those wanting to race is the same as he gives to his students.
“I tell my students to always make yourself a better you each day,” he said. “All these races I run are just another example of me practicing what I preach!”