When it was suggested that Women’s Health put together a team for the Discovery Tough Mudder obstacle race, I was the only one jumping up and down at the opportunity to get scratched up and dirty. Apparently, the mud baths and tree climbing that made up my childhood are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Stoked to relive some of my finer youthful moments, I rounded up a bunch of my crazy buds who are always up for something spontaneous.
The Discovery Tough Mudder…
It’s called tough. So you kinda know it’s going to be, well… tough. We were all feeling a little nervous as we neared Houwteq campus in Elgin where the event would be taking place. The mist hung low on the ground. A soft drizzle intensified the goosebumps already raised on my arms. I was a ball of excitement and anxiety, with no idea what to expect.
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At the start line, all Tough Mudders are required to take a pledge: “I understand that the Tough Mudder is not a race, but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine – kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course. I overcome all fears.” And that’s something I’m going to remember for everyday life. With dramatic music pumping and a flare sizzling, the race began. Feeling inspired, we set off, into the unknown…
What went downThe Discovery Tough Mudder has two different course options: The full or the half. My friends and I agreed that it was all or nothing, so we committed to the 16km with 20 obstacles. We set off with the first stretch of the run, nervously anticipating the first obstacle…
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And there it was. A mass of barbed wire we had to leopard crawl under. So far, so good. The next few obstacles weren’t as easily overcome. The next one featured two spinning blocks in a pit filled with water. And somehow we all had to get over them. Here’s where the pledge came into play. We were helped along by all the other teams taking part.
And we really needed help on the next obstacle: A steep, slippery pyramid that required standing on each other’s shoulders, then being hoisted up and over by someone at the top. At one stage I was being held by the feet so I could reach down and grab one of my friend’s hands. I was a little scared of being dropped head-first into the mass of people. But we made it.
The toughest obstacle
After each Tough Mudder obstacle, we’d give it a rating: Average, easy or really hard. Carrying a massive log on one shoulder was tough, climbing over a high, smooth wall with no handholds – also hard. But we all agreed, the Arctic Enema was by far the worst. Not because it was tricky to do, but because of the ice and pain. What it involved: Sliding into a pool of ice blocks and getting fully submerged in the coldness.
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You only realise how much it burns to be in an ice bath when you have no other option but to slide into one. Every fibre of my body was screaming. To get out, we had to duck under a wall, which forced us to submerge our heads as well. Eish – brain freeze. I clambered out as fast as my trembling limbs would allow.
What Tough Mudder taught me
I’m a very competitive person when it comes to most things in life. When you’re racing as a team, though, you can’t put yourself first. The Discovery Tough Mudder definitely gave me a new perspective on “team work” and “doing it for fun”. I enjoyed every moment of the event and didn’t care where we came at all. Many of the obstacles required upper body strength and I was once again reminded that I actually do have muscles now. I can thank BOLD SA for that.
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Finally, I was pleasantly retaught that trying something new or different is sometimes all you need. Preferably with a bunch of good buds and a beer waiting for you at the finish line. Would I do Discovery Tough Mudder again? Absolutely.
This article was originally published in Women's Health SA.
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