Melissa Dugan is in a few words a loud and proud woman in the OCR community. She is one of the administrators for the World's Toughest Mudder online community, an advocate for athletes in the Tough Mudder world. It is not uncommon for Dugan to talk with TMHQ when issues arise in the community. Dugan is not only a fan of Tough Mudder but obstacle racing, in general, seeking out races whenever she can. Many of us know her as Sharkbait but how many of us actually know her? It’s never easy as a newer writer in the OCR community to reach out to amazing athletes such as Melissa, but I was floored when I sent her a message on facebook and she agreed to let me interview her.
Where did your nickname of “Sharkbait” come from?
My nickname of Sharkbait actually comes from my long time love of sharks. Ever since I saw Jaws as a child I've been obsessed- so much so that I went to school to be a Marine Biologist. I've always lived by the ocean (in either Florida or Virginia) and love to swim in the ocean- stupidly during dusk (when sharks feed) so I acquired the name Sharkbait. And who doesn't love Finding Nemo 🙂
What is your signature look on course?
I'm pretty easy to find on course: at any non-Tough Mudder event, you'll see me in my signature Dirty Birds Team shirt with a large SHARKBAIT displayed on the back. If you miss that then look for my shark arm sleeves, my pink knee pads or my Worlds Toughest high socks. And of course I display my Worlds Toughest Mudder 50 mile brown bib at any Tough Mudder event (partly to brag but mostly to spread the WTM event).
Which obstacle scares you and why?
Oh that's easy. Nothing has ever scared me like the Cliff at WTM. I don't have a HUGE fear of heights- but it's certainly a healthy fear. And yes I've overcome it- I've had to jump off that damn thing for three years- with my signature “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD” every.single.time.
If you could be any flavor of ice cream, what would you be?
ICE CREAM!!! Oh boy, do I love ice cream! But of course, as I got older ice cream started to not love me back- so now it's Coconut Ice cream… which is just as amazing! After a long endurance event, I usually eat a whole pint in one sitting.
Who is your idol?
My idol has always been and always will be Deanna Blegg. This amazing woman has overcome so many personal obstacles in her lifetime- to include living with HIV and battling breast cancer- and still not only dominate OCR but is beyond humble and kind. I can only dream to be a fraction of not only an athlete but a good human being that she is.
What is your race fuel of choice?
Turbo Superfoods has been fueling me for the last couple years. The best way to describe this performance powder is that instead of a rush of short-lived energy, it provides long term steady energy that I just can't live without anymore!
Have you ever run a course with injuries? Tell us about it.
oh boy. How long do you have for me to list injuries? Long story short- I wasn't active until my late 20's so my body doesn't have a base of athleticism- so I've been prone to issues. In the past, I've torn a hamstring, torn an ankle. Just this year alone I've dealt with a rolled ankle, a broken foot, shoulder tendinitis, IT band issues and nerve issues in my feet. But honestly- you can't expect to run the events we run and train as hard as we do and not have injuries. If you don't then you're lucky as hell. I'm blessed with amazing Physical Therapists that are also athletes that help put me back together all year round.
What are your pre-race rituals?
There are a few things I absolutely HAVE to do pre-race: roll out, warm up, lube up and everyone's favorite-pre race poop!
What is your proudest racing achievement?
My proudest racing achievement….. well honestly it was the finish line this year at WTM. But not me crossing it- it was me hanging out there for over an hour after I finished. To watch all of my fellow WTMers finish and get to embrace and cry with so many of them truly made my year. Those moments overshadow any other moments of the 24 hours.
How do you plan out your racing schedule throughout the year?
I usually wing it throughout the year for planned races. But for sure I will be participating in the first 8-hour Toughest Mudder in LA in March (I plan to do at least 2 other Toughest as well), OCRWC, WTM and as many Tough Mudder's as I can.
What’s an unknown fact about you?
I can move my ears independently from each other-It's a great conversation starter when you meet someone new— more or less to see if they have a sense of humor!
Looking back at all your races and OCRS you have done, what is the silliest thing you have done on course?
At almost every Tough Mudder weekend we do something silly- but our Tough Mudder Dinner set up on Blockness Monster was pretty epic!
Bonus: I'm just so darn proud of our OCR community. Our sport is finally getting the wide spread media coverage it deserves and we have done a wonderful job of showing that we are a family. One that can still care for our own competition. One that can create a movement of getting everyone off the couch and into the mud!
If someone wants to reach out to you on social media, how do they find you?
On Facebook you can find me as Melissa Dugan or even Sharkbait. On Instagram I'm melissa_sharkbait.