They were tough and they got muddy!

Recently on Need to Know, we told you about a group of EEAST staff taking park in a Tough Mudder challenge. Here, Laura Smillie-Henson, an emergency medical technician, reflects on the day.

On Saturday, 20th May, I did something way outside my usual comfort zone and I completely surprised myself by loving it. What was it, I hear you ask? Well, I competed and finished my very first Tough Mudder race. By the time I had signed up I did not have much time to train, so all I could do was mentally prepare myself for the challenge ahead. I had heard of the event before from my husband, but it wasn’t until we heard that my work colleagues were taking part that we decided to join them.  

On the Saturday of the challenge, the sun finally came out and we soon headed off to the event at Belvoir Castle. At the starting line I told my husband Lewis that my goal was just to finish, I wasn’t worried about a time; it just meant a lot that we were doing it together. As a team we had already decided that we would stay together to provide support and encouragement along the way.

That first mile was pretty brutal; I continued to wonder what I had gotten myself in to. I hesitated at the first obstacle; the pit fall. Everyone who had completed it was wet and covered in mud. However, I soon just jumped in! Working my way round all of the obstacles with the help of my team, I quickly realised it wasn’t all that bad.

Doing the Tough Mudder is all about team work, I really don’t think you could complete it on your own, whether it’s physical or emotional help that you need to get round the course. Our group left a lasting impression on me. People I had never met before kept my spirits up and everyone had such a good time, despite me thinking I would be miserable! It really was inspirational.

Over the next five hours, we faced nine more miles of terrain; about half of which was uphill at a pretty steep incline. It was hard, but not as bad as I’d expected. All of Team Bandage stayed with me the whole time and were incredibly encouraging to me. They pushed me on, motivating me to keep going even when I was tired. I did things I never would have thought I was capable of. Obstacle arctic enema was intense and freezing! Everest 2.0 where I ran to the rope as fast as I could and held on for dear life; sorry to those team members who had to pull me up from the top!! I kept pushing myself even when the doubts crept in, and there were only two obstacles that I didn’t complete.

I jumped into, slid through, climbed on hands and knees through more mud than I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t like mud or being dirty at all, but I got over the ick factor quickly and just focused on the task ahead. One step at a time, one mile at a time, one obstacle at a time. We got through it and had so much fun in the process. Let me tell you, when we crossed under the finish line and got our finisher headbands, I felt completely exhilarated — WE DID IT!!!

My goal had just been to go out there and have a good attitude, give it my best shot, hopefully finish and make a memory with my husband and work colleagues. I completely shocked myself by loving almost everything about the race. In fact, I was already talking about signing up for another race before I even crossed the finish line! This race challenged me as a person and finishing will continue to give me courage and motivation for years to come; to keep trying things I never thought possible.

We are often so much stronger than we believe ourselves to be.

Laura Smillie-Henson, Emergency Medical Technician

Published 1st June

Pictures: before and after. Second picture credited to Tough Mudder

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