Was I being cheeky? Maybe, but I was cracking up too much to notice.

Tough Mudder. I have so many words, but an inability to competently put them in a coherent order that conveys the depth of experience.

If I had to pick one though, it’d be “butts.”

On one hand, because there were a buttffet of great butts on display. On the other hand, because the word is silly, fun to say and became our team mantra as we rounded the course. I may have run around shouting “BUTTS! TOUGH! BUTTS! TOUGH!” It a) was a pun on Tough Mudder and b) sounded like Butt Stuff, which never ceased its hilarity. I’m sure many people thought I had butt-based Tourettes, when in reality it served the group to have a cry to rally around. Was there any reason for that cry to not be “butts”? It evolved from its practical Marco/Polo application (having run ahead I’d shout “BUTTS!” and team mates behind would call back “TOUGH!” to let me know where they were) to an effective call and response method of energising team members in an effort to distract them from their aches, pains and worries (“When I say BUTTS, you say TOUGH. BUTTS!” “TOUGH!”, etc).

Aches, pains and worries there were many. Fitness levels ranged from team member to team member. The team often diverged, with some members (often myself shouting BUTTS!) running ahead, then resting up when the remainder approached. A bunch of scrapes and bruises were collected along the way. We stopped to stretch when necessary, running on the agreement that having fun at the event wasn’t worth long-term injury. There were some tears, but at every point my wonderful team embraced one another with hugs and sincere congratulations/pride. Some of us had doubt over their ability to finish or overcome certain obstacles. The rest of us knew they could and let them know it too.

What did I accomplish today? Everything. I’d been training very fucking hard and it all paid off. I conquered every obstacle without issue or difficulty. To some that could come off as arrogance, but part of self-confidence is recognising when you’ve owned your shit and come out the other side. Today I confidently swung my way across a series of monkey bars over a pool of water, then swung onto a horizontal beam and climbed the rest of the way. I was shouting “butts, butts, butts butts butts” (think “Shots” by Lil Jon) with every swing. I carried a large log on my shoulders all by myself instead of opting for distributed weight with a team member. It was heavy and I instantly regretted my cockiness, but I made it the whole way and it was nice to know I could. I scaled a large wooden ladder in seconds. I jumped over a 3-5m drop to grab a flying fox style swing, then launch myself off it to ring a bell. I scaled a wall pulling myself up by putting wooden pegs into holes, then shimmied my feet up the nooks in the side. I pulled myself up a muddy rope with my hands along (until it got a bit slippery towards the end, at which time I used the foot holes wisely provided. Oh, and ran/walked 16km. Did I know I could do these things? Not entirely, but that never stopped me from giving it my all. I did all of the above without once being anything less than cheerful, yelling praise for butts (as an abstract concept) the whole time.

I was euphoric. I may also have drank a shit ton of pre-workout, which is basically legal liquid meth. It feels amazing to have worked hard and even better to feel a substantive payoff. I had such a good time that I at many points wondered why I don’t do this every single day. My team was phenomenal: Supportive and giving it everything they had. Cheer was never in limited supply and we got through it all together. It was such a fun event that discarded douchedom in favour of enduring camaraderie and teamwork across the board. Everyone wanted everyone else to succeed and made strides to create that reality.

Butts indeed.

Butts.

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