As we descended the rocky gravel road to Glenworth Valley, spirits were high as we had left behind our hectic lives for the day – no kids, no phone reception, no carb restriction (justified by my calculations that we needed extra fuel for the 10km of obstacles that lay ahead of us) and of course, Queen blaring loudly – We Are The Champions (tragic 80’s chic – showing my age).

We instantly became more sedated when asked to sign the waiver – basically signing away our right to sue should we injure ourselves or die in the mud – this was going to be the world’s most expensive and exhausting exfoliation.

The warmup consisted of a hyper hippie ripped Peter Pan type (you know the man-child that never seems to grow up) rallying the troops – pledges, slogans and hugging strangers seemed to drag on as they kept the crowds building to a climax…

And then we were off … Team Empower had officially begun its inaugural Tough Mudder. Determined to keep the team together every step of the way was of course our fearless leader, Adonis (note he wasn’t democratically elected).

To get to the first obstacle there was a half km run. So off Adonis goes, with Fur Face and the other disciples blindly following – so typical of males that sprint out hard and finish S L O W! I was exhausted before we even got to Obstacle 1 – everyone waiting for me patiently except for Adonis “S E G E L OOOOOOOO V” he barked like a Drill Sergeant.

Obstacle 1 aptly named The Kiss Of Mud. Why wait to get down and dirty? There was no option but to slide through the mud on your stomach to avoid the very low hanging barbed wire. Not exactly designed for someone with big hair that was famous in the 80’s (I still can’t believe people would willingly pay money to have curly hair).

To avoid my hair getting caught on the dangerously low hanging barbed wire I basically had to submerge my face in the mud the whole obstacle. When I stood up at the end I noticed that no one else seemed to be muddy. How was that even possible? I was completely covered from head to toe, not to mention having the additional pleasure of tasting the exotic black stuff.

There is always a princess amongst plebeians and Team Empower is no exception. Allow me to introduce you to our resident Princess – who we adore in our morning classes, particularly Run Squad. Pristine nails – check; mascara – check, perfectly groomed hair that doesn’t move – check! Needless to say that after obstacle 1 Princess was still looking as though she had strutted off the red carpet at fashion week.

Onto Obstacle 2 – The Rope Net. The teams before us seemed to be struggling so Adonis conjures up a new strategy which required us all to run backwards while passing the heavy net of ropes above our heads – fearless leader’s head began to grow as he kept congratulating himself on his brilliance.

“SEGELOOOOOOOV” the war cry was heard across Glenworth Valley as I ambled my way to Obstacle 3 – The Mud Mile. No escaping this obstacle – it’s just mud, mud and more mud as you attempt to walk, crawl and slide through a mile of uneven mud pits – much harder than it looks. Princess update – still looking fresh as a daisy! Me …. Looking more like a half-dead drowned mud rat!

I wearily complete the Mud Mile with both eyes closed as my lids have been forced shut by congealed clumps of you guessed it – mud! Surely we haven’t got that much to go I think positively to myself ….. and then I stumble across the sign “Welcome to Km 3! Not even half way …

Obstacle 4 is Everest 2.0 – basically a quarter pipe similar to the one that skateboarders use, but taller than a mountain. There is an extra curve to make sure that it is impossible to reach your fellow comrades who are hanging off the top in the vain hope of grabbing your hand. Only two of our toughest Empower team members made it up the curved mountain in one piece, and one of them is so skinny he weighs less than my thighs put together. I avoided eye contact with Adonis as I had no desire to even attempt this suicidal obstacle … and I’m pretty sure that he was praying that I didn’t even want to!!!

It must have been 500m from where I was crossing the freezing muddy river to reach Obstacle 5. It was as if he was using a megaphone to announce to the entire Australian population to run for cover as we were about to be struck by an asteroid heading to earth any second – I could hear Adonis roar across the Valley “ Everyone get ready, take your positions, we have to get Segelooooooov over the walls.” Good things always come in pairs they say – what a stupid saying that is. Two 10 foot vertical walls with nowhere to grip with your hands or put your feet – insane. My heart was racing, my breathing became erratic and I was too scared to be annoyed at Adonis for announcing to each and every Tough Mudder participant that they to heave my big bottom over two walls. My feet were firmly planted on the ground and I refused to move. Sadly, Adonis knows how to sweet talk me into anything and slowly but surely he convinced me to climb with one leg onto his knee, the other onto poor Fur Face’s knee, then move my feet to Adonis’s shoulder, then the other leg onto Fur Face’s shoulder, meanwhile reaching up to where another two members of Team Empower were hanging down in painful male positions to grab my hands and help pull me up. When I regained consciousness I was lying on the top of the wall – thickness all of 3mm. Everyone is screaming at me – put your foot here, place your hand there, turn this way, jump down – it was all too much. So I did what my 8 year-old would do – SOOK. I just lay there and had a tantrum. I refused to move. Wasn’t listening. LA LA LA LA….. Until Adonis bellowed – “Segeloooooov – snap out of it and get down now” as he strategically repositioned all the troops to get me down safely. It was a miracle, my muddy feet had touched earth again, I was about to fall to my knees to give thanks but after only a few steps there was ANOTHER WALL …. Oh no its Groundhog Day!

No rest for the wicked … onto the next obstacle The Block Ness Monster. This obstacle requires precision teamwork as you have to push, pull and roll your way through high rotating barriers that drop you in pools of muddy water. By this time I was immune to the broadcasted alert: “Segelooooov coming over” as I gripped onto the rotating turnstile with all my strength and courage – only to let go just as I was just about to be turned. “Segeloooooov” – Adonis moaned, thrilled we had to start all over again!

In-between the obstacles there were mountains to climb and forest to run through. I was so grateful that Fur Face is such a gentleman and would wait patiently behind me as I stumbled along.

And his reward? The Piggy-Back Mud Relay – where you have to piggy-back a team member for a 100m sprint and then swap. In all fairness I did my bit and piggy-backed Fur Face which was harder than it looked – I wish he didn’t lift such heavy weights! Time to swap being the egalitarian team that we are. Poor Fur Face …. Imagine Quasimodo dragging Esmeralda through the muddy sewers … Fur Face was bent over at 90 degrees and to this day I do not understand how I didn’t come flying over his head much to the amusement of Adonis, Princess, Skinny and the rest of the crew.

Editor’s Note: Fur Face has endured a strained groin ever since!

Next was an obstacle where in pairs you had to carry logs, and another where you had to get in a pit and climb a series of mud hills …. And so it went on until like the lost tribe of Israel, we were at the end of our Journey and had reached the final obstacle!

Rotating monkey bars over a mud pit followed by a steep vertical incline which required a human pyramid to get to the top. And once at the top – a final slide down into a muddy pool below! I waited at the top for Princess as I wanted to victoriously slide down hand in hand. Just as we were about to launch off she shrieked: “HANG ON, LET ME PUT MY HAIR UP I DON’T WANT TO GET IT DIRTY”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously? We had just completed 10km and 3 hours of muddy obstacles on our stomachs and knees and she was worried about getting her hair dirty?

There was only one solution to the Princess problem – without hesitation Adonis just pushed her down the slide into the depths of the muddy pool below which I’m sure every contestant had relieved themselves in!

As we traipsed across the finish line, arm-in-arm, all together as one Empowered team – we were handed a beer. Not a massage , not a steaming hot towel but a can of beer. Oh, and a
“I completed Tough Mudder” t-shirt to wear proudly!

Looking back on the experience I can only liken it to childbirth – painful, long, exhausting – but so euphoric when you cross that finish line that you forget all the bad bits and can’t wait to experience it all over again!

So a few mornings later when I limped onto the scales for my weigh in I was 98kg – down 600 grams!!! Must have been all that scrubbing to get rid of the mud!

Look forward to all of you joining Team Empower for Spartan Race Feb 8th 2019.

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