The Tough Mudder is considered to be "probably the toughest event on the planet," according to its website, and three Darien educators just completed it in August to raise funds for REACH Newtown, a nonprofit organization that provides support for students.

Luke Forshaw, Ox Ridge Elementary School principal; Keith Margolus, Royle Elementary School principal; and Adam Carley, Holmes Elementary School assistant principal, along with 14 other teammates, navigated -- and not without serious determination and will -- up and down a 10-mile course on Mount Snow in Vermont. The event, which is more of a personal challenge, doesn't stop at just the 10-mile trail that must be hiked, but at more than 20 obstacles, which were designed by the British Special Forces. Only 78 percent of the competitors finish the course, and of those, 80 percent finish it as a team.

"I knew it was going to be tough," Forshaw said.

The event coordinators push for teamwork and camaraderie, and remind the competitors that it's not a race, but a personal challenge.

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"The way they design the course is pretty sadistic," Forshaw said.

He and his teammates completed the course. "You go up a mountain and it felt like you were going up half a mile to a mile at a clip. That was the worst part: Up. You're slogging and slogging and you get up to a peak. Then there's a little plateau and there may even be a little snack station and water stations, which were great. So you get a little snack and think, `I'm good.' So you go around a corner and then there's another incline."

For the past three years, a group of Darien educators has been competing in similar races, such as the Warrior Dash, a 5K obstacle course, and a 5K in Hartford. The group members who had completed several Warrior Dashes were looking for a way to push themselves, Forshaw said.

The obvious answer was the Tough Mudder.

Throughout the course, the competitors are expected to tackle ludicrous obstacles like swimming through an ice bath, running through fire and mud, climbing over multiple walls and rope ladders, and subjecting themselves to being shocked by electric current.

Forshaw recalled one of the obstacles that had him crawling on his belly over mud and under exposed wire.

"I remember the first pop was right above my cheek and it numbs your whole face," he said. "It just drops, which is weird to lose control of your body like that, and my shoulder got hit and I dropped. That's the first electrocution obstacle and it's the worst because you can't get through it as quickly; you can't just gun through."

The last obstacle of the event requires that the competitors run up what looks like a skate ramp where their teammates are waiting to help, only to be faced with another round of shocks before the finish line.

While the entire Tough Mudder organization raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, and has, to date, raised nearly $6 million, Forshaw's team competed for REACH Newtown. Team REACH, which was his group's Tough Mudder team name, raised more than $3,000 for the organization.

The organization seeks to help underprivileged children in Newtown and plans to expand into the Greater Danbury area. Carley is the director and executive director of PEAK, a sub-group within REACH; Margolus is the education director and the board president; Forshaw is the board vice president of program development.

The organization, which has been in the works for two years and was spearheaded by Carley, who lives in Newtown, works to develop individual programs for students beyond the normal school day.

"We know that in schools there are great levels of support, but for some (students) there are things schools just don't sponsor," Forshaw said. There are a variety of programs from after-school and summer activities to programs for at-risk children.

Mentorships with high school students are also available.

REACH is partnered with the Newtown Youth Academy.

The Tough Mudder was the first fundraiser for REACH.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews