When word got out that the Ascension Eagles’ JLT wanted to run the Tough Mudder event again this year I, in a moment of madness, volunteered to chaperone them round the course and help raise money for new gym equipment. Note to reader: I consider myself vaguely fit for a woman of a certain age and am generally up for a bit of craziness; the event was still months away and so I managed to convince myself that it would all be fine. That was in January. But as the day drew closer I was starting to get really, really, concerned.
The 5k run wasn’t so much the issue in my mind – despite the fact that I have never really enjoyed running and only do it because I feel like I ought to. What really worried me were the obstacles. There was clearly a benefit in running with a bunch of cheerleaders who would be able to lift people up, but people of my size and age… not so sure! Also, I guess the vain part of me didn’t want to become the joke of the gym for the foreseeable future. But since I teach my kids “a promise is a promise”, ducking out was not really an option. I was all in.
So I found myself, on Saturday morning of the 13th of April at 8.30am sharp, standing in the freezing cold outside Finsbury Park Station. We were a group mainly consisting of young Eagles- but thankfully there were four other brave parents and, quite crucially, coach Rob- who I was hoping would be doing the hard lifting.
Once in the group my nerves temporarily calmed down. All the supporting family members started turning up and there was an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. Rob, as per usual, was very enthusiastic but my excitement had been dampened by the sight of the obstacles visible on our way up the hill. How in the world was I going to navigate those, even with help?!
9.30 arrived; we were pretty frozen by then and glad to be led into the holding pen for the warm up. I kept thinking I should not overexert myself since I had a feeling I might need my energy for later. We started to a plume of green smoke and off we went down the hill (downhill – treasured moments).
The first obstacle was some kind of overhanging wooden wall and I hung back to see how things were looking ahead. Surely enough the Eagles had it all in hand. Whilst some poor woman was struggling next to us, Rob and Simone had already helped 5 of our group across. And hurray – with their help I managed without too much of an issue as well.
When I lost my nerves I found Nicola, a fellow mum who was hanging back with me. She really helped motivate me when the uphill running- of which there seemed to be way too much- was getting to me. At pretty much every obstacle our supporting family members were waiting to cheer us all on. I had the sneaky feeling my Eagles, that are both too young to run the course, were quite proud of their mum hanging in there.
As a group we navigated all the obstacles cheering each other on and helping each other out. The last obstacle was an incline that ended with a platform at the top. We needed to run up this vertical nightmare! I swear I would never have even bothered to attempt this under any other circumstance. But one Eagle after the other made it to the top without too much trouble. Coach Rob totally aced it of course, and since I had no choice, I started running towards the top and… grabbed hold of the hands stretched out. Elation- I had done it!
Another pretty long run (or did it just seem long?) and we were at the finishing line! We proudly collected our t-shirts and headbands, I can’t tell you the last time I wore one of those, and then relief and hugs all round- as well as pictures to prove that this had all actually happened.
I had stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and made it. It was a wonderfully uplifting and positive experience to be part of an intergenerational team of lovely people that had achieved something together that individually many of us would have never thought possible.
I’ll be back next year as a Tough Mudder legionnaire. Who’s in?