As a kid I loved watching those movies that had soldiers in training running through mud, climbing over walls, going through water filled pipes only to get to the end and be asked to do another hundred push-ups. This sense of adventure and a wanting to achieve a lot from my body pointed me toward completing two Tough Mudder runs prior to this space selection, one of which was completed in the name of my late friend, Captain Bryce Duffy (see my very first blog post).
On this unusually warm and humid Floridian winter day, we were tasked with a “simple” physical assessment, where we would be judged on time taken, input given and attitude. I was about as happy as a pig in mud (yes, I was in the mud); this was my sort of fun. To start, a big and burly fitness nut, the kind of guy that needs to walk sideways to move through a door, explained the requirements of the test. These included cement bag carrying, mud crawling, wall climbing, as well as multiple series of push-ups, sit-ups, and the ever painful burpees.
Split into starting groups, I was part of the third group into the foray. I couldn’t wait for my turn to start, seeing those before me go headlong into testing their physical fortitude. The course was more of a sprint through all the different obstacles rather than a progressive burn like a Tough Mudder. For this reason and because I wanted to nail the time, as I crossed the finish line I was well out of breath.
I saw a number of competitors at the finish line start to become ill and even faint as the temperature poured through 31-degrees Celsius with enough humidity in the air to make you feel like you were swimming. For some, this was too much to handle. In my preparation of training nearly everyday in central Queensland where the temperatures weren’t often below 30-degrees, I felt I had the upper hand and so spent the energy I still had ferrying water to some of these people who had put everything they had into this test.
After we had all completed the course, we wanted to see if the big fitness nut who judged us on the course could put his money where his mouth was. We wanted him to show us how it was done. After some strong encouragement from about 50 competitors, he gave in, quickly stretched and prepared to “teach us a lesson”. Shortly after starting with a running sprint into the hurdles, he tripped, fell, and fractured his ankle.
As we cheered him off the course being carried by paramedics, there was a kind of guilty feeling amongst us for egging him on. But you are inevitably the maker of your own destiny no matter the encouragement from any group of people. This was a thought that hadn’t left my head during the whole lead-up and commencement of selection and I knew it was up to me to get to my goal.