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Murrysville athlete runs obstacle course for charity — 7 times | TribLIVE.com
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Murrysville athlete runs obstacle course for charity — 7 times

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Above, Matthew Scoletti waits to get going at the 2014 World's Toughest Mudder competition. Scoletti completed the course seven times.
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Matthew Scoletti, on the right, waits to begin the World's Toughest Mudder competition in the Las Vegas desert.
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Matthew Scoletti did 35 miles during the seven times he ran through the World's Toughest Mudder obstacle course.

Most people would balk at the idea of making their way through the physical crucible of a Tough Mudder obstacle course.

Matthew Scoletti didn’t balk — and then he ran the course another six times in a row.

Scoletti, a Murrysville native and 2002 Franklin Regional High School graduate, participated in the “World’s Toughest Mudder,” a five-mile obstacle course set up in the desert near Las Vegas, in which participants see not just who can finish the course, but how many times they can finish it.

Scoletti, 31, made it to seven.

“I set a goal of five times,” he said. “I wanted to do over 30 (miles), and then the ultimate goal was 50 (miles). But anything over 30 was going to let me walk away with a smile on my face.”

He paused a moment before adding, ‘Actually, that’s not true. I definitely wasn’t smiling after it was over. But I’m smiling now.”

Not only did Scoletti surpass his course goal, he surpassed the fundraising goal he’d set for the nonprofit group Young Adult Cancer Support.

By taking pledges in advance of the trip to Las Vegas, Scoletti was able to raise more than $10,000 for the charity, which recently received approval to provide grants that will help fund medical care for children affected by cancer. His fiancée — leukemia survivor Stephanie Samolovitch — is director of support service for the charity, and Scoletti said her battle was one of two things that inspired him to take part in the event.

The other was On Target Living CEO Chris Johnson, who lit a fitness-fueled fire under Scoletti, who ramped up his workouts after hearing one of Johnson’s motivational speeches and shortly thereafter earned the titles of Pittsburgh Physique Athlete of the Year in 2012 and Mr. Pittsburgh 2013.

Scoletti and Johnson became friends, and On Target Living sponsored Scoletti’s participation in the Vegas obstacle course.

In the months leading up to the competition, Scoletti — who now lives in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood — increased the intensity of his workouts.

“Stephanie and I went to a few state parks and camped out because that’s what you do during the event,” he said. “So I was doing trail runs and giving myself ‘obstacles’ to overcome about every quarter mile.”

The training paid off: After 25 miles, Scoletti said, he felt as though he’d just started the race.

“I was feeling really good,” he said.

But as he and his partner started the sixth lap, a sandstorm came whipping through, and the temperature began to plummet.

“I think I realized then why they have you sign the release form,” Scoletti said. “I basically did a good bit of that sixth lap with my left eye closed because it was full of sand. So hitting 35 miles under those conditions is a great accomplishment, and I consider it a great success.”

Before what would end up being their final lap, Scoletti said, he’d pushed his body about as far as it would go.

“My knees, they were done,” he said. “But I looked down at my bib, and I had written ‘YACS (Young Adult Cancer Support)’ on it. And knowing that we were raising money for the charity was the only thing that got me through it.”

So will he head to Vegas for next year’s “World’s Toughest Mudder”?

“My mom reads the paper, so I think I have to say, ‘No,’” he said. “But if you ask me again in six months, it might be a different answer.”

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365 [email protected].

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