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Away from the air conditioning, water fountains, yoga pants and elliptical machines, fitness enthusiasts are keeping their heart rates up by sloshing, splashing and panting through the mud, over ladders and through tight tubes.

Endurance races such as Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Superhero Scramble occur all over the nation, and many UCF students trade in the safety and cool air of the Recreation and Wellness Center for the trenches of these intense obstacle courses.

In a Tough Mudder, participants traversing the 10- to 12-mile obstacle course can try to hold their own on the "Hold Your Wood" challenge, rise from the ashes of exhaustion on the "Phoenix" and go all out on the "Balls to the Wall" challenge — all "… to have a story to tell," according to a New York Times article quoted on the Tough Mudder website.

Since November 2013, Lina Lineros, a spring 2014 UCF graduate, has participated in 19 events like these. On July 19 in Dade City, she will be doing a Mud Endeavor, an obstacle course-based night run.

However, Lineros isn't a fan of the running. It's the obstacles and the challenges they present that she enjoys.

To train for these intense runs and courses, Lineros uses the RWC to stay in shape between runs.

"I try to go to the UCF gym and if I can make it to the group classes, those are really good for training," Lineros said. "When I'm busy, I tend to go at night and do a regular [bodybuilding] routine with my roommate."

But doing a Tough Mudder also takes another sort of preparation — having the mindset to get completely filthy.

"You should expect to be absolutely dirty. If you don't like mud, you shouldn't do these," Lineros said. "I have to wear contacts, so I have to be careful not to get splashed in the mud. It's happened once or twice, but oh well."

One trick she's learned to clean off after a particularly filthy run is to put baby oil in her hair so the mud doesn't stick for too long and is easier to wash out.

But these intense obstacle courses aren't the only ways Knights are pushing themselves outside the gym.

Engy Mui, a UCF medical student in her third year, competes in mostly triathlons and 5Ks when she's not busy in her clinical year of medical school.

However, Mui did the November 2013 Tough Mudder with a group of 10 to 15 other medical school students, training every week after school.

"We'd do circuit training for an hour and a half — a lot of things to bring your heart rate up," Mui said, also noting that she worked on her own to improve her upper-body strength. "You try to build up your upper body and your endurance, [and] you try to get your runs in and calisthenics in."

For those looking to get into these courses, Mui recommends going in a group, especially if it's your first time doing one of these endurance runs.

"A lot of the things were team activities. Get in a team and just be careful with safety," Mui said. "Go in a group. I think it's impossible to go yourself unless you train very hard."

But take it from a newbie: These courses aren't always about being the buffest or the strongest.

"You don't need to be anything to participate," said Dean Schille, a sophomore studying civil engineering. "It's a fun run. No matter what fitness level you're at, you can complete it."

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