Med student motivated by mud, sweat and tears
27 December 2012
Medical student Katy Emslie describes her unusual passion for mud, sweat and tears
Nine out of 10 people who took part in last year’s World's Toughest Mudder contest didn’t see the finish line.
Hypothermia and broken bones thwarted their chances in this endurance test with military-style obstacles.
I almost pulled out too because I had a really sore hip that meant every time I put my leg down I would scream in pain.
On my third lap of the course I nearly quit because of this injury, but out of sheer determination — and having come so far and been through so much already — I decided to carry on.
Despite all this, I would do the World’s Toughest Mudder again in a flash if I had the chance. The event in Englishtown, New Jersey, USA, is a 10-mile course with 32 obstacles.
I was the only British woman to qualify for the event, which involves competitors running around the obstacle course as many times as possible in a 24-hour period. My qualification came from having completed the Tough Mudder Scotland, finishing in the top five per cent of participants.
I knew the New Jersey event was going to be extremely tough, but the conditions were immensely difficult. It took place in November, and obstacles were freezing over in the plunging temperatures, and climbing walls and ropes were icy.
The Everest obstacle that is found at most Mudder events is a slippery half-pipe that you have to try to climb up. I only managed it on my third attempt. You have to take a time penalty if you don’t do it. Other obstacles include 12-foot, vertical ‘Berlin Walls’.
Another of the more challenging obstacles was a skip full of ice you had to swim through. I had my training partner with me all the way, and I don’t think I would have finished it without him.
After each lap, I would go back to my tent in the pit area, put dry clothes on and eat something, and then go back in again.
Sleeping was difficult because it was incredibly cold, so during rest time overnight I went to help out in the medical tent.
We saw lots of cases of hypothermia because people’s wetsuits were insufficient and freezing.
It was an amazing experience overall — the getting fired up to go, the competition itself, and the amazing sense of achievement afterwards.
I completed three laps in the time limit, and came fifth in the 20-to-25 age category.
My training did help a lot. Distance was not so much of a problem, but I did a lot of climbing to improve my upper-body strength. I also did spinning classes on a bike in the gym, and ran a lot.
I raised more than £1,500 for Cancer Research UK, which I’m absolutely delighted with. People have been so generous.
I am already looking for my next challenge.
Katy Emslie is an Aberdeen University medical student
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