DIXON – Former Marine Colin Bond plans to spend this weekend climbing over walls, plunging into ice baths, scaling electric fences and running up inclined ramps.
In fact, he’s been looking forward to it all winter.
The Dixon resident will compete Saturday in the 10-mile-plus Tough Mudder obstacle course competition in Seneca with a team from the Wounded Warrior Project.
Wounded Warrior helps wounded veterans recover from physical, mental and emotional injuries.
Bond, 30, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Marines from 2000 to 2004, in which he did two tours in Operation Enduring Freedom across several countries and in Iraq.
His job at the Byron nuclear power plant triggered the disorder.
“I’d get up at 3 a.m. for work and not want to get out of bed,” Bond said.
On one of those mornings, Bond was procrastinating on Facebook when he found an article about Wounded Warrior.
After talking with several friends about it, he signed up for the Chicago Soldier Ride, a 4-day cycling event putting veterans with injuries from amputations to injured backs in custom-fit bicycles.
“Going to the Chicago Soldier Ride is what truthfully changed my life,” Bond said. “Just meeting some of the other vets that were dealing with some of the same things and to get back into physical activity ... it felt really good.”
Bond bought a bicycle the next week, he said.
The people at Wounded Warrior advised him to leave his high-stress job for a new one. Their physical health and wellness program provides recreation, adaptive sports programs and overall strategies to help veterans remain physically engaged while adjusting to life after injury.
Then, he competed in last year’s Tough Mudder competition with a group from Wounded Warrior.
“I like that we motivate each other, and push and help each other through it,” Bond said. “It’s pretty tough, but the more physically fit ones in the group really help everyone else.”
Bond is trying a different strategy for this year’s event. Rather than build up his cardiovascular health, he trained at a CrossFit gym, walking and riding his bike to work to build up the cardio.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said of the weekend competition.
The former Marine said he wants other veterans to know there’s support and activities out there for them to help.
“Wounded Warriors changed my life. There’s no doubt. It basically made me realize family and friends are what I need to be happy, not just something like keeping a job because it pays well.”
Go to woundedwarriorproject.org to learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project.