Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tough Mudder - so much more than just an obstacle course.

Shona Husk & Nicola E. Sheridan, two tough mudders.

You may (or may not) be aware that recently I completed Tough Mudder with my friend and fellow author Shona Husk. Tough Mudder is a gruelling 20 km course filled with difficult obstacles and it was quite frankly, one of the most inspiring and empowering things I have ever done for myself.

It has also given me countless scenes, scenarios, experiences, feelings, sensations and human interactions that I am bursting to weave in to my writing.  

Yet, there was one particular experience I had during Tough Mudder, that I feel has been most poignant for me personally.

This was one of the final obstacles, known as Everest. A hideous 1/4 pipe that you need to run up, and miraculously get over, for someone of my modest height, there was no way on this goodly earth that I could reach the top without some serious help. Enter the chivalrous gentlemen. The top of Everest was lined with (usually) guys hanging half over, so they can help people get over.  Those guys are there purely to help, they could have finished, and be drinking beer  in the beer tent by that stage, and yet they stay simply to help other people, people they do not even know, conquer this obstacle - and they do so in the most elemental way.

 By the time you have got to Everest you have run nearly 20 km, so you're tired and sore.
It took me six attempts before I finally made it.

At every failure, I skidded / fell / slid back down the 1/4 and landed arse in the mud. At every failure I got back up, wiped off my hands and ran it again. I was literally missing the guy's hands by millimetres, and yet... I did not give up, and nor did the guys trying to catch me.

It was amazing.
Then finally, finally after five, knee and bum numbing failures, on my sixth attempt, the guy with the Mohawk caught me.

Even though I am a writer, and words are my art, I cannot find words sufficient to explain the sensation of having my hand caught by unknown guy - gratitude, exhilaration, joy, amazement all come to mind.

As Mr Mohawk tried to haul me up, I found my other hand clasped in another man's hand and together these two strangers worked together to hoist me to the summit. Alas, I was too heavy, so another chivalrous gentlemen joined the fray. 'Give me your leg!' he yelled. Though some incredible contortionist act of yoga I managed to swing my leg up for him to catch, which he did. Then all three of these guys lifted me to the top.

When I got to the top, I thanked the guys and headed down for the last run to the finish - thankful, exhilarated and ebullient.

In a world where the hardest thing I have to do is work in in an air-conditioned room and teach well loved, well cared for children, or mediate between my own children - this particular experience offered me a glimpse into the beautiful side of humanity we rarely get to see in daily life. People helping people with no sinister ulterior motive, just for the joy in helping someone else succeed. It was beautiful, just beautiful.

Below are some photos from the Tough Mudder Australia sight of other people conquering Everest. I don't know if anyone got of photo of me doing this obstacle (maybe I'm in a Tough Mudder Epic Fail video somewhere) an the official TM photos are not available yet.

If you'd like to know more about the Tough Mudder event, here's the Perth Tough Mudder Official video.

Have a great week.

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