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Thoroughly Muddled

Last weekend I did the Miss Muddy obstacle run! For those of you unfamiliar with an obstacle run, it’s an organised run that the organisers make more difficult by adding obstacles. Miss Muddy takes it to a level I’m comfortable with: there’s no penalties for missing obstacles (some runs make you do a set number of burpees for the obstacles you miss), there’s no electric shocks (yup, that’s apparently a thing) and there’s no timing on the run. So, if you happen to be among the bone-density-challenged demographic and avoid running, you can walk it. You can opt in and out of the obstacles and stroll comfortably in between them, and you still get a shiny medal at the end.

It was awesome.

The obstacles were fantastic; there was a jumping castle you had to bounce across, and another jumping castle you had to kind of clamber across; there was a bunch of walls to climb over (of varying difficulty and height, which are strangely not correlated); there were monkey bars to swing across; there was a pink-slime-ball pit to wade through (surprisingly difficult) and an ice bath to get through, complete with people armed with super-soakers ‘encouraging’ you to get under water. There were, as the name suggests, mud pits to crawl through (again with the super-soakers), but there were also water balloon fights, colour dye fights, a foam zone, and a bunch of inflatable water slides to slide down. It was like being at the most awesome birthday party ever, but with BYO fairy bread.

It was hard.

I’m pretty damn fit, but even without the running, it was a demanding morning. And it was cold, especially after I’d been through the liquid-based challenges. I hadn’t brought a change of clothes, although I had remembered to sufficiently towel up the car before leaving, so I could just fall into it and crank the heating. And the rest of my teammates didn’t come, due to various life intrusions like sickness — nobody’s fault, but I ended up being the sole representative of Team Bad Yogi. It’s a pretty social event, too: the obstacles end up being bottlenecks, so everyone chats or eavesdrops. Next year I’ll send the email out broad and early, and rope in as many chums as I can. The only thing missing from this year’s event was people to hang with.

At one point (probably between the mud pits) when I was cold and wet and stomping my way through scrub all on my lonesome, guided only by someone’s dropped bright pink boa feathers and the sounds of companionable laughter, I wondered why I put myself through all this. It’s hard, and today it was lonely and cold and hard. So why do I put my hand up and say ‘that’s for me!’? And, well, the answer didn’t take a genius. I like it. I like doing hard things: I like challenging myself and finding I can do it — or, at worst, finding I can’t but that it’s okay, because I survived and learned something. I like trying tough things and I like it even more when I meet the challenge. Life has already shown me it can be surprising and unexpectedly dangerous, so meeting tough physical challenges makes me feel a bit less brittle — and then when the really hard stuff comes my way, I can say “this is going to be tough, but I’m good at tough things.”

Let the record show I did every obstacle but one: a rope climb over a shipping container. Sounds fairly straightforward, but consider this: the volunteer manning the obstacle had brought their samoyed, who was delightedly dancing around and barking at competitors. I politely asked for, and was granted, permission to skip the obstacle in favour of befriending the doggo. Good swap, I reckon.

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