Bluffton resident and developer Thomas Viljac began competing in mud run challenges 2 1/2 years ago in Georgia, Florida and New Jersey.
The Army veteran saw the Lowcountry as the perfect location to host one of the multi-mile runs that mixes aspects of a miltary-style obstacle course. The inaugural Face Your Fears Challenge will be Feb. 23 in Palmetto Bluff to benefit special operations forces in the military.
Aside from himself, many members of his family are retired from the military. But it is his friends who are active duty in special operations that make him want to give back most.
"They are commissioned to our nation's dirtiest jobs," Viljac said.
Proceeds from the event will benefit four charities serving the military: the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command Foundation, the Brothers in Arms Foundation, the Lone Survivor Foundation and the Navy Seal Warrior Fund.
"I chose them because of my association with my friends in active duty," Viljac said. "The emphasis, when I talk to anybody, is the charities. It's the special operations guys."
Participants have three courses to choose from. The valor course is for experienced competitors -- 10 miles with 25 obstacles. The courage course is designed for the recreational athlete and is 3 miles with 16 obstacles. The seal pups course is a quarter mile, with no obstacles, and is designed for children and families. At the finish line, participants receive dog tags.
"It's not a race, but a challenge," Viljac said. "You're goal is to complete the course, cross the finish line, and then you receive your own dogtag like an active duty member when they join the military."
Viljac said while the mind-set of those serving in the special operations forces is on a different level, he wants the mindset of the event to be similar.
"Our mission statement is, 'Never quit -- the only easy day was yesterday,'" Viljac said. "That's the way those guys live every day. It's a way for all of us, all typical Americans, can reach out and support these guys."
Viljac designed the course based on previous mud runs he has completed. Now that the structure is in place for the initial event, he's already planning a second one.
"This is a way, if you've ever wanted to give back to the military in some way, in some fashion, to do so," Viljac said.