A Schneider Trainer Survives Attempt to Become World's Toughest Mudder

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Last Saturday, while most of us were busy wrapping presents and decorating cookies, Don Jeske of Oconto, Wis. was busy doing a few other things like climbing 12-foot wood walls, scaling steep slopes of skateboard ramps and crawling through watery pools of mud with live electrical wires mere centimeters above waiting to zap him.

Jeske celebrated his 50th birthday this past July by participating in Wisconsin's Tough Mudder competition at Devils Head Resort in Merrimac, Wis. (Tough Mudder is regarded as the premier company in the obstacle course industry, with its courses designed by British Special Forces.) He did well enough to qualify for the Super Bowl of Tough Mudders, the first-ever World's Toughest Mudder competition held Dec. 17-18 at a motocross track-turned-obstacle course in Englishtown, N.J.

Nearly 1,000 men and women (mostly in their 20s and 30s) started the 24-hour, non-stop race. Of them, only 10 were still on the course when the 24-hour mark arrived. Jeske was among the 520 that finished one complete lap with a time of 5 hours, 41 minutes and a rank of #485. The winner, Junyong Pak of Beverly, Mass., completed eight laps and received the $10,000 prize.

The course consisted of 10 miles and 39 military-style obstacles that also included barbed wire, nets and endless amounts of mud. "The only thing I wasn't prepared for was the cold," says Jeske, shuddering as he remembers the chill of the 35-40 degree temps and 20-25 mph winds.

Jeske, a former truck driver who has worked in driver training at Schneider National since 1989, decided to embark on a healthier lifestyle five years ago. He lost 52 pounds and now regularly participates in running events. "Each day, I'm determined to do more than I did yesterday," he says. He cites his wife Julie, five children and eight grandchildren as a big source for his motivation to keep fit.

Jeske notes that he chooses the races he participates in based on the charities the event supports; one reason he wanted to participate in Tough Mudder is because it supports the Wounded Warrior Project, whose mission is to honor and empower our nation's Wounded Warriors. Schneider National is also a strong supporter of the program and even gave Jeske a lift to New Jersey in the company's military tribute truck, the Ride of Pride.

"Don is a true inspiration and role model to all of the folks who work alongside him at Schneider National," says Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruiting. "He knows the challenges of living life on the road, and this unique perspective allows him to help drivers find common-sense ways to get and stay healthy. Driver health and fitness is something we are Schneider are constantly keeping in our headlights, making us even prouder to have a guy like Don on our team!"

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