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Taking on Tough Mudder for children in Ethiopia

Last year, 14 energetic fundraisers completed Tough Mudder around the country to support children in Ethiopia. Their physical strength was tested on the 20km course that was littered with obstacles! Our Community Fundraising Manager, Rachel Murphy, recounts her exhilarating experience.

I remember first hearing about Tough Mudder a few years back. A good friend told me about the mud and the obstacles, she even had a smile on her face as she was recounting it to me. And then she told me about the last obstacle. Electric wires and the possibility of being electrocuted – I was horrified.

As the Community Fundraising Manager at ChildFund Australia, I have the privilege of working with many high energy people who take on big, and sometimes crazy, challenges to raise money for children who live in poverty. Needless to say, I usually get caught up in the excitement of a big event which generally results in me taking part in the event alongside our supporters.

Early last year we discussed entering a ChildFund Team in Tough Mudder. We needed to raise money to feed orphaned children in Ethiopia and this was looking like a good challenge where fundraising would be easy, everyone knows how hard Tough Mudder is to complete.

I was excited to be doing Tough Mudder on the outside, but absolutely terrified deep down inside. I vowed to train more than ever. I started talking about it and before I knew it we had a ChildFund Team. There was no turning back (yikes)!

United by our support of children who live in poverty, our team was at varying levels of fitness and fundraising experience.  Over the months before the event, we all worked hard to raise money to feed children in Ethiopia, and trained equally as hard to prepare for the course!

When we met at the gates on the day of Tough Mudder, we bonded instantly, and shared our experiences of fundraising, training, as well as our fears and lack of sleep as we worried about what was ahead on the Tough Mudder course!

First up was an entertaining warm-up, and then came the Tough Mudder pledge. The pledge was about mateship and helping people out, overcoming fears and not whining. At the time I thought the pledge was cool, but it wasn`t until I was taking on the challenge that I realised how great this pledge actually was. I definitely needed mates, and help, and to conquer my fears to get through this challenge.

There`s no sugar coating Tough Mudder. The obstacles are as hard as they sound, but with help from Tough Mudder mates, it`s all possible.

In the first twenty minutes we crawled through underground pipes (as a tall person, this is pretty hard as there isn`t enough space to get your knees under you so it`s more like an elbow crawl!) and slid into muddy ice water. Remember those ice headaches you had as a kid drinking an iced slushy too quickly? Well imagine one of those all over your body. It was equally horrible and hilarious.

As a team, we climbed over 3 metre high walls, crawled under barbed wire, waded through the thickest mud I have ever seen, and swung from a four metre high platform to reach out to ring a bell and be crowned King of the Swingers!

I didn`t know everyone in our group very well at first, but we all worked together and encouraged one other, so we made lots of new friends along the way.

For me the toughest part was the final obstacle ‘Electroshock Therapy.’ I was dreading it all day (actually, I had been dreading it since I signed up!). I stood back and encouraged everyone around me to run through. I wished them all good luck and watched on, trying to find the courage to do it myself.

Then I remembered why I was doing Tough Mudder. I had spent the past six months organising events and asking people to sponsor me to help children living in poverty in Ethiopia. I couldn`t let these children down. Without another thought I started running. I made it over half way before the first shock. I dropped to the ground and commando-crawled the rest of the way. I had the biggest smile on my face. I did it! I had just smashed my fear and made it through Tough Mudder. What a relief and what exhilaration!

I know I will never have the chance to meet the kids in Ethiopia who I helped with the money I raised by doing Tough Mudder. And I know they will never know how much they helped me face my fear that day. But I know. And I thank them.

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