Team Earth

Photo Credit: A nice man in the crowd took our photo

Last Saturday I was the one half of Wonder Woman and my younger sister, Tracy, the other half. We were each wearing one half of a Wonder Woman outfit for a Tough Mudder event.

Tough Mudder is not a race. The event is not timed. A full Mudder is a 16 – 20 km course with 20 obstacles. The Sydney Mudder in November 2017 was enhanced by heavy rain the night before so the course was even muddier than it was designed to be. We waded, walked and slurped our way through knee-deep mud that varied in viscosity from milk to partially melted ice cream. It sucked the shoes off many. It filled our orifices, both private and public.

The mud was a smelly, dank, black ooze with grassy inclusions. It was better not the think about the amount of horse shit that was mixed with the velvety clay. We threw ourselves over and into trenches filled with slime. We dragged ourselves up walls with knotted ropes. We stood on the shoulders of others to climb over obstacles and we cheered those who made it. We laughed and smiled as some fell face first into the muck and we wiped each other off.


Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

Tracy and I made it through with a couple of bruises and scrapes, our pride boosted by the encounters with friendly and helpful people along the way. Our feeling of accomplishment heightened by the collective knowledge that you can’t complete a Tough Mudder on your own. To finish, you need help. You need to co-operate, either with your own team or enlist the help of strangers. You need someone to help you up and over the mud walls in the Mud Mile; you need people to haul you up the Everest obstacle. You just can’t do it on your own, no matter how fit and fabulous you are.

Not so clean but enjoying a beer! Photo credit: another nice person from the crowd!

Why is it that at an event like this we can cast aside our differences and reserved natures and help with an open heart and a spirit of untapped, immeasurable generosity?  I finished because total strangers gave me a leg up, literally. If I met these people on the street on Monday, they probably wouldn’t even say hello.

Let me give you a hand buddy! (Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page)

Why? Because on Saturday we had a common goal. Because we had all been banded into one team. The Tough Mudder Team. We had an initial idea that this would be fun. We paid our money and we joined the team – willingly. We signed a waiver that basically said – this is dangerous – you could die – but that’s your choice. On Saturday we arrived at the one place at the one time. We were corralled together for the warm up and listened to the playful banter of the “coach”.  We joined the chant.

“When I say tough YOU say Mudder”





The warm-up guy at the start line invoked the spirit of shared purpose even further when we all got down on one knee and pledged to think of others before we thought of ourselves. We learnt how to signal to indicate a fallen Mudder. We knew if we found someone hurt, we crossed our arms above our heads and first aid would arrive.

We bonded.  We were a family. We were TOUGH MUDDERS!


Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

There was plenty of swearing going on that day but none of it was in anger. The f’ing and blinding was targeted at our common enemy – the mud. All the elements of team building were right there:  collective action to successfully  overcome a series of challenges that took us outside our comfort zone to achieve a common purpose.

By the 12 kilometre mark, our tired bodies were seeking distraction despite the fun, and as we jogged from one obstacle to the next, my sister commented

“Wouldn’t it be good if it was like this all the time. If we could be friendly and kind all the time.”

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

Indeed, it would!

In the real world, we divide ourselves into teams based on religion, ethnicity, colour and gender. We subdivide that into even smaller teams based on sexual preference, political affiliation and citizenship. We endlessly divide ourselves into smaller and smaller teams and privilege those who belong to the same team and cast the outsiders well away. We don’t trust the “others” and we choose not to share with them. We walk past the homeless. We demonise those whose faith is different to our own, even though the scriptures we follow all include love and peace as their central tenets.

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

With the black mud covering our bodies, it was almost impossible to tell who was who. The lumps and bumps that showed through the active wear defined gender, but that was all. The act of helping a fellow Mudder over the wall was offered to and by men and women equally, so gender became insignificant. You helped; regardless.

After all we were the same tribe! The Saturday Mudders!

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page

Driving home, I turned on the news and discovered that the world had not become a loving festival of generosity. Those who hated others who were not in the same tribe still outnumbered the generous. I heard that our Parliament was considering the Same Sex Marriage Bill and might vote to permit active discrimination by allowing those who “felt uncomfortable” in baking a wedding cake etc. to refuse service to a gay couple seeking to formalise their love. I sighed – the bubble burst.

How can we join all the humans of the world into one big team? By expanding our horizons. After all, when you pull the focus back far enough it is easy to see we already do belong to only one team.

Team Earth.

Let’s hope it does not take until the arrival of the Aliens before we all sign up for membership to the team that seeks to maintain a habitable planet.

Today, as I nurse my aching muscles I feel like one tough grand-mudder! I urge you to  pay the membership to join Team Earth. Let’s play together! All 7.6 billion of us. That’s one awesome human pyramid we could build!

Photo credit: Tough Mudder Australia Facebook page
(Unfortunately the GoPro I was wearing malfunctioned. The 100% waterproof cover was in fact 0% waterproof!! As a result I have no original pictures to post except the two with Tracy and I at the start and finish)