'Steve Austin's Broken Skull' latest challenge for Crystal Lake dad
Committed? Without a doubt.
"Well, it's almost like an addiction," Keith Puralewski admitted.
The Crystal Lake resident and general manager of the Deer Park California Pizza Kitchen trains in the gym seven days a week. During Obstacle Course Racing season, he participates in grueling weekend races that might intimidate the Incredible Hulk.
Puralewski is among eight opponents vying for $10,000 in prize money at the end of "Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge" at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, on Country Music Television (CMT). At 48, he's the oldest competitor in his bracket.
His first challenge: Trench Warfare, an event in which Puralewski and another contender face off in a 30-plus-foot, 5-foot-deep trench filled with 4 feet of water.
"I broke two fingers doing that one," Puralewski said.
To win, Puralewski must go from one end of the trench to the other and ring a bell, then make his way back and ring the bell at his end.
Sounds easy, "except that there's this guy in front of you who doesn't want you to do that," Puralewski explained. "It's all a matter of who wants it more."
All his life, Puralewski has loved sports and physical challenges.
He served as the captain of the football team and the wrestling team at Chicago's Luther North High School. He spent a year on the wrestling team at Triton Junior College.
"Then life happened," he said. "Wife and kids and responsibilities. Without that drive, that passion of having a sport to be training for, it was just working out for vanity's sake or working out for health's sake. That doesn't get you up at 4 o'clock in the morning to work out in the gym."
One day, he looked in the mirror and saw that "a dad bod" had replaced his in-shape physique.
That started to change the day Puralewski received a photograph showing some friends covered in mud while participating in a race called the Warrior Dash.
Puralewski did one of those. Two weeks later, he did another race.
"The next thing I knew, I was becoming addicted," he said. "Now I'm training for something! I'm up at 4 in the morning because I've got a race in two weeks and I've got to run 15 miles with 50 obstacles and I need to be in shape or I'll die out there!"
Earlier this month, he raced in the OCR World Championship in Ontario, Canada. He called it "the most difficult event" he's ever attempted.
What exactly feeds Puralewski's drive?
"I have two answers," he said. "One, I'm showing my kids, Eric, 12, and Ryan, 17, that if you put your mind to something, anything is possible. Let's face it, I'm a grandpa compared to most of the people I'm competing against.
"Two, it's a sense of accomplishment. When I look at my own workout room in the basement, I see the equipment and medals from my races over the past five years. To see that is a sense of accomplishment of what I've done. It's about proving it to my kids and proving it to myself that, at 48, I still go out there kick (butt)!"
If you Google Keith Puralewski's name, you'll see an impressive collection of fitness videos featuring some of his favorite exercises. If you look on Facebook, you'll see "way too many pictures of me with my shirts off," he said. "I'm trying to get my presence out there."
It turns out that Puralewski had been bitten by the acting bug while in high school where he performed in plays. He's hoping that his appearance on "Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge" might open some doors for acting opportunities.
"That would be a dream come true," he said. After all, it worked for a bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger and a karate champion named Chuck Norris.
"Five years ago I started doing all this craziness," he said. "Life can't get in the way anymore! We need to live. That's what I'm doing now."
He is married to Arlington Heights resident Deana Moressi, a Forest View High School grad. They lived in Chicago before moving to Arlington Heights, then to Elk Grove Village before settling into their Crystal Lake house, which Puralewski promised would get a new $10,000 kitchen if he wins the 10K race in the "Broken Skull Challenge."
So, will Deana be getting that new kitchen?
"Sorry," he said. "I can't say."
-- Dann Gire
• Jamie Sotonoff and Dann Gire are looking for suburbanites in showbiz. Know one with a good story? Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The reality TV show features endurance tests and an obstacle course that will net the last man standing $10,000. The episode featuring Crystal Lake's Keith Puralewski airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, on the CMT channel.