I played netball as a kid. I wasn’t very good. I was the sort of kid who got put in WD and left there forever, not really doing anything too helpful. I stopped playing when it got too competitive, because people made it clear I wasn’t good enough to be part of their club. I suppose that tainted my view of sporting groups. I never quite let go of the feeling that I wasn’t good enough.
Then, one innocent day, I took part in Warrior Dash. I fell in love with mud. Then came Tough Mudder, and my heart nearly burst with adrenaline, joy and exhaustion as the love affair for doing the “impossible” grew. Then… Then I wrote an open letter to Spartan Race Australia, saying that I wanted to smash their Sprint. They called my bluff and I blogged for them for a few months as I prepared for the Sprint.
Now, injury stopped me from smashing the course as intended, but along the way I realised that there’s more to obstacle racing than mud. There are people from all walks of life who just want to fight to be better than they were yesterday, to have fun, and to live a life worth telling stories about.
Over the last year I’ve met people who I never would have otherwise. I’ve walked through Sydney University with a friend, who so articulately told me things I needed to hear but everyone else was too polite to say – “You say your God loves you, so who the f**k are you not to love yourself?”. I’ve gotten to train with people who work so hard that their bodies ache, and they they go back for more. Their tenacity is inspiring. I’ve seen people care for each other by helping out with transport, giving kind words, giving hard words, training together, racing together, financial help… When I kept making excuses to not to the Beast this year, a friend took away my financial excuse by depositing money into my account.
I love this community. It’s an unlikely camaraderie we have, because we come from such different places, but it turns out that we have more in common than we ever knew. Every time we’re around each other I still have this nagging sense of unworthiness, but it’s silence by laughter more often than not… or burpees. Burpees and laughter.
This community. You’d be surprised what’s underneath the mud. You’d be surprised at the stories this community has to tell. You’d be amazed at the fights people went through to get to the finish line. Heck, there are struggles to get to the start line more often than not. You’d probably be shocked that the best of these athletes aren’t jerks, but in fact friendly and warm.
What a community this community is.