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"Queen of Mudder Nation" Raises Funds for Speed the Light, Memorial

Octogenarian Mildred Wilson participates in Tough Mudder events to help missionaries around the world share the gospel.

Danny Wilson, the long-time youth pastor at Bethel Assembly of God in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, is passionate about Speed the Light and Tough Mudder races — foot races that range from a 5K (3.1 miles) to 24-hour endurance events, feature a dozen or more extreme obstacles, and, as one might guess, a whole lot of mud.

For anyone, a Tough Mudder event is physically challenging. However, at 50 years old, Wilson is in much better condition than most people decades younger... though it’s not like he can call his 85-year-old mother, Mildred, and brag about it. No, why call her when there’s a good chance she’s doing the Tough Mudder with him!


It was 2016, and Danny had asked his mom to be a part of his pit crew when he participated in the World’s Toughest Mudder 24-hour challenge event in Las Vegas. As Mildred watched and assisted Danny, she was fascinated by the fun, comradery, and challenges of the event.

“I just mentioned to him that I wished I had known about this and could have done this when I was much younger,” Mildred says.

“You have to know my mom — anything she puts her mind to, she can do,” Danny says. So, he encouraged her to participate. After a brief pause, Mildred said she’d like to try a Tough Mudder.

“I checked with my doctor, and he said it was ok,” Mildred says. “Then I went to the gym and they gave me some exercises to start doing to get ready.”

In 2019, at age 80, she made the leap and joined Danny at the starting line of the Tough Mudder in St. Louis.

“I always enjoy a challenge,” Mildred says, “and getting to do it with Danny is the biggest thing for me.”


As the date for Mildred’s first Tough Mudder began to approach, she and Danny agreed that doing a challenge like this was pretty extreme, so it would be great to give it more meaning by using it to raise funds for Speed the Light, the youth missions program of the Assemblies of God.

“I’ve raised money for vehicles, for a well in Africa, and other Speed the Light efforts,” Mildred says. “I’m actually not sure how much money I’ve raised altogether, but for the well I raised $12,000 and the van last year, it was more than $4,000.”

However, this year, she’s raising money for something quite a bit more personal and emotional. In July 2023, Danny’s wife, Tanya, passed away after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. A reading teacher, her school wants to create a memorial reading area in her honor.

“It’s a reading area with seating and books and a mural on the wall with cats,” Danny says of the design. “It’s called ‘Tanya’s Purr-fect Reading Corner’ because she loved cats. But the school needs about $3,000 to create the memorial, so that’s what my mom did this year’s run (held April 27) for.”


It comes as no surprise to learn that Mildred, on her first Tough Mudder event, not only finished, but became the oldest person to ever finish a Tough Mudder race. She’s since done a total of five Tough Mudders and a Conquer the Gauntlet race (during COVID) and along the way, has become rather famous in the Tough Mudder community.

“They call her the Queen of Mudder Nation,” Danny says. “They have her picture with her age featured in a lot of their advertising and it seems everybody knows her... and every year she competes, she sets a new age record.”

“Tough Mudder has done a lot of articles on me,” Mildred admits. “I’ve done a lot of interviews — TV, news, online... last year a company from London called. They do comic books for the elderly, and they wanted to put my picture on the back of their comic books to encourage people to stay active.”

Although Mildred only participates in the St. Louis Tough Mudder, Danny says that Tough Mudder participants are always coming up to her to meet her or calling out to her during the race.

“And the race announcer will always make a big deal out of her,” Danny says. “She really is an inspiration to a lot of people.”

For those unfamiliar with Tough Mudders, some of the events include the Block Ness Monster (a rotating set of large rectangular blocks in muddy water), the Mudderhorn (a four-story cargo-net climb up and down), the Kiss of Mud (a 100-yard crawl through mud with barbed wire strung across at 14 inches high), along with others.

“This year the army crawl through the mud under the barbed wire was the toughest event for me,” Mildred says. “It seemed very long, and they had a lot of rain during the week — it was very, very thick mud.”

“Overall, this year the weather was pretty good – it was about 70 degrees for the race,” Danny says. “Last year, it was 50 degrees, windy, and overcast — as soon as we got wet, we were shivering... so we were shivering the whole way.”


It’s hard enough to imagine most 50-year-olds attempting to do a Tough Mudder without suffering some kind of medical emergency. But Mildred? Keep in mind she’s closer to 100 than 50! And even though she doesn’t evangelize while on the course, she isn’t afraid to talk about her experiences.

“I’ve been able to share my testimony at a local church and in a Christian magazine, and it’s fun to get to talk to people at the events,” Mildred says.

Yes, she suffers her share of scrapes and bruises and who wouldn’t be sore after that kind of physical effort. However, she loves being active — mowing her own lawn and playing pickleball for three hours several times a week — and as she participates in the Tough Mudders, she knows every step taken and every obstacle cleared will in turn help share the gospel.

However, Danny admits that he hasn’t been able to inspire any of his youth group to join him in taking on a Tough Mudder to raise funds for Speed the Light (or for any other reason) yet. But perhaps it’s time for Mildred to issue her own Tough Mudder race challenge to some of those high schoolers? She could always offer to give them a head start....

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.