Earlier this year, a member of the World’s Toughest Mudder Community, Charles “Tank” Lukancich unexpectedly lost his wife, Kimberly Lukancich, after more than 20 years of marriage. Without a live World’s Toughest Mudder to dedicate his race to her for, he decided to hold his own event. An invite went out to all 4,500+ athletes in the World’s Toughest Mudder Community to come run 24 hours of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) on his property and the surrounding area to honor her memory. Here’s a quick rundown of Kimberly’s 24 Hour Ultra-Mudder:
Course: The course ran through Charles property and on part of the adjacent road. Charles and some of his friends managed to build a complete five mile course over his property. The most memorable part of the course actually ran by the adjacent cemetery where Kimberly is buried, allowing runners to say hi or pay their respects on every lap.
One of the unique parts of the route involved running loops through the goat pen. After climbing over a slant wall the route spiraled through almost every inch of the pen. The goats stayed out of our way but seemed to be slightly confused why athletes were running in circles through their home.
Terrain: The course had a ton of switchbacks, which mentally made it challenging because sometimes a point looks so close but you proceeded to snake through the field seemingly forever before reaching the next obstacle. The lower field, which made up 75% of the course, had a ton of marshy crossings.
I think my feet were actually wetter here then at World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM). At WTM your feet get wet on water obstacles but there aren’t many points on course for your feet to get wet between obstacles. On the lower field it felt like every 100m my feet were getting wet again with chilly water with temperatures dropping to low 30s in the evening.
Obstacles: The course had a good mix of obstacles including sand bag carry, rope climb, horizontal cargo net traverse, tractor tire climb, angled wall climb x2, two large piles of loose dirt/collapsed building to climb over, Tyrolean traverse, spear throw, stump jump, high wire/low wire, over/under railroad ties, Hercules hoist and three section balance beam across plastic drainage pipes.
The two hardest obstacles were the Tyrolean traverse and stump jump. The Tyrolean traverse was one of the longest I have seen (I only recall Shale Hill’s being longer) and made using ratchet straps making it a little tricky since you had to make sure you grabbed it without twisting the strap.
The stump jump (named “Nut Crusher”) obstacle was actually pretty hard. The stumps were pretty far apart and really required having confidence to make it across each. The first time I stood on the first stop by comment out loud was “Are you serious about this?” However, after regaining my composure I was able to make the leaps, only having to redo jumps twice over the course of the event.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere was very memorable. In the pit area there was a huge bonfire with friends, family and pit crew sitting around relaxing. People were relaxing, having some beers, drinking hot cocoa and overall having a great time. Charles went above and beyond giving this a bigger event feel. Athletes had red colored race bibs with the event name, pit crew had similar blue colored bibs, everyone received a magnet with the event name and the top five received trophies.
What is fun and interesting about small events is the lack of standardization. It’s always interesting to go into an event blind with no idea of the obstacles. The creator of events like this can literally do anything they want. This combined with a small enough field where everyone can meet each other makes it a much more personal experience than the massive 1500+ athlete pit plus crews that are at WTM.
Overall Experience: Overall, it was a great experience that I’m glad I went down for and a great end to the 2020 race season. I don’t ever recall meeting Kimberly, although after talking to her husband she handed me my finisher medal at Conquer The Gauntlet Little Rock at least once. I don’t ever recall meeting Charles prior to this weekend either, despite us being at every WTM since 2014 together and must have passed by each other literally dozens of times on course. However, it was nice to support someone in the community and be apart in honoring Kimberly’s memory.
From my perspective it seems like all anyone does in 2020 is complain about what they missed out on this year instead of being thankful for what they have. Running in memory of Kimberly was a good reminder that we should always be thankful. Like Charles said to me when we were discussing his late-wife on course, “always tell your family you love them when you leave, because you never know what tomorrow will bring and if you may have just missed out on your chance to say goodbye”.
Pictures provided by Michele Littlejohn-Luccketta of Portrait Photography (give her Facebook page a like)
Kim/Tank kiss picture provided by Tank
Goat pen and stump jump photos provided by Scott Wierzycki