Dirty laundry

LOCK HAVEN – Easter usually is a time that families spend together, whether at church services, dinners or egg hunts.

But for a different sort of “family” at Lock Haven University, Easter was spent away from home.

On Easter Sunday, members of the Lock Haven Quidditch Team faced an obstacle course often described as the “toughest event on the planet” – the Tough Mudder mud run.

Quidditch, based on the sport mentioned in the Harry Potter series, is played in similar fashion as described in the books. Players attempt to throw a ball through hoops at either end of the field, while dodging other balls thrown at them, all while holding a broomstick between their legs.

Although all the players were in shape, a game of quidditch is nothing like the Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudder is a 10- to 13-mile obstacle course, designed by members of the British Special Forces. The course is a challenge, not a race, with an emphasis on teamwork and endurance.

Some of the proceeds from the events are donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that supports soldiers wounded in the line of duty.

“I’ve done Tough Mudder before,” said Alex Garancheski, a criminal justice major from Shamokin. “There’s no better feeling than accomplishing something known as the ‘toughest event on the planet’ with a group of your closest friends.”

The quidditch players, all from different areas of Pennsylvania and with varied backgrounds, each had their own reasons for tackling such a challenge on Easter.

“It seemed fun,” said Zachery Whitsel, of Lewistown, who practices martial arts when not studying or on the quidditch pitch. “I always wanted to do one but never had the opportunity until now.”

“I looked into it and it seemed like a new adventure to make life a little more exciting,” added Caitie Probst, a criminal justice major from Gettysburg. “Plus, I would get to do it with my friends so that made the decision to participate easier.”

Andrew Peacock, a sport rock climber and soccer player from Pen Argyle, had a slightly different take on the Tough Mudder.

“I’m doing it for the adrenaline rush,” Peacock said. “I’m an adrenaline junkie.”

Brittney Midlarsky, a martial artist from Matamoras, was amusingly less optimistic. She said going in she fully expected to “die” running the course.

Starting at 10 am, the quidditch players, some friends and a reporter, started the run, cheered on by family and spectators nearby. The course was set up at the Pocono Raceway, in and around the notorious “tricky triangle.” Obstacles with colorful or frightening names, such as Dirty Ballerina, Devil’s Beard and Electroshock Therapy dotted the course, 23 in total.

Tough Mudder emphasizes teamwork and camaraderie, and the quidditch players were up to the challenge. Throughout the course, they stayed together, helping each other, as well as other people they didn’t know, through obstacles.

On one occasion, Midlarsky completed an obstacle but went back and did it again, helping someone she didn’t know overcome it.

Tired and sunburnt, they were awarded the coveted orange headbands at the finish line. After hosing off, they took a few minutes for a post-run dinner of chicken fingers and hot dogs. A common comment throughout the day was, “this is an interesting way to spend Easter.”

“Today was some of the most fun I’ve had in a very long time,” said Peacock, sporting his hard-earned headband. “I’ll definitely be coming back.”

It was a sentiment expressed by Midlarsky and Probst as well. In true quidditch fashion, the plan is that next year they’ll bring their brooms.