It’s inspiring discovering first hand just how far people can push their bodies and minds to achieve the unimaginable.
Today Lucy and Abhinav ran 26.7 miles up and down the muddy trails of the Purbeck marathon and still managed to look photogenic on the finish line.
Yesterday Roya (accountant, and hater of both exercise and dirt) braved the Tough Mudder Half, not only tackling all obstacles but also keeping up for 6 miles of jogging.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the rest of the ‘Latvian Bikini Mud Wrestling Squad’ – unfortunately, no, we didn’t wear bikinis – but special mentions have to go to the team member who was “Dreading this so much” at the beginning of the day but became a new person with some slightly stinky mud splashed on her face.
Because some of those obstacles were actually pretty scary! There were moments when I was genuinely thinking “how the hell are we going to do this?!”. But even through the cold and the wet with heavy clothes, failing muscles and bruises already forming we pushed through.
I definitely took it for granted before – it only being the half. I mean, 6 miles is no sweat really. Lucy and Abhinav ran it almost 5 times back to back!
So why today did I keep drifting off, exhausted?
Because I’ve been pushing limits – not just this weekend, I’ve been doing it for months. I’ve been working, usually gardening from 9-5 (with a generous lunch), jumping out the van and straight into my car to hit the gym. From there, if I’ve no other plans, it’s a 1-2am sleep time because of my chronic Youtube addiction.
Next day? Rinse and repeat.
Combine that with my fantastic foresight to book a blood donation for the night before the Tough Mudder and the long drive to Purbeck post-event and you’ve got one tired, smelly man.
Y’know, if any of those bad life choices had actually affected the Tough Mudder Half then I’d have learned a valuable lesson. Truth is, all I’ve learned is the human body can keep going under an enormous amount of stress.
We lifted dozens of people over obstacles, had them stand on our shoulders, we’ve slid and bumped over gritty, sharp surfaces and hefted heavy weights easily with the help of adrenaline.
It doesn’t help when you get dared to body slide into a puddle which turns out to have gravel underneath…
What was the hardest part? Bar the ‘Birth Canal’ – a claustrophobic tunnel with water pressing down on your back as you squeeze through – I’d say the hardest part was keeping warm.
The volunteers do a great job of getting you hyped up for the run, but we were on the course for at least two hours and sometimes queues built up at time-consuming obstacles, draining our adrenaline and leaving us wet and shivering.
Tom and myself took this opportunity to practice our boxing to stay warm. Yes, we looked like absolute fools, but you couldn’t judge when it might be us helping you up the next 10ft wall.
The best moments were helping other people and overcoming challenges with a little bit of brain but a lot more brawn. Lifting Roya and Becca up and over things was a piece of cake, but occasionally a heavier man would need some assistance and it was gratifying being able to help (without breaking my back).
Oh, and seeing George fall head-first into a pool of muddy water was priceless.
The course was surprisingly brutal actually. Some of the obstacles had some pretty questionable health and safety issues, but that just made it more fun. Also, it encouraged us to have some respect for the obstacles and the dangers they posed.
Escaping the realms of normality and pushing ourselves is something we don’t do enough. And even though I have my qualms with the morality of Tough Mudder as an opportunistic corporation (don’t get me started on the £20 parking) – it’s something I’d definitely do again. Maybe a harder one next time!
However there’s one thing I’ve wanted to do for a while, and Lucy and Abhinav have sparked my competitive nature. I want to run a marathon, even if that means weeks of boring training.
Who’s with me?
P.S. Tom had a Gopro, so expect footage in the coming days!