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Lauren's Tough Guy Journey - Volume One

18 Jul 2014

Lauren, a proud UniRec member and journo student over at Wintec is set to tackle tough guy & gal with the team on aug 9. She has kindly agreed to document her journey, as she takes on our weekly training sessions leading up to the event. Here is week one...

It's a good thing for my ego that I've never considered myself 'tough'. Fish and chips, pies, ice cream, and nutella were my childhood staples, and who needs exercise endorphins when you've got sweet, sweet junk food? I was the jolly fat kid all my life, so lying on the ground with my legs in the air while my team huffs and sweats is familiar territory.

They're in training, and training in earnest. The gym rumbles with determined lungs and cheerful banter; we're still mostly strangers, but the bond of mutual exertion grows rapidly. This dark, wintery morning, we've congregated in the echoing UniRec Sports Hall to kick ass, take names, and get messy – and while the hard-working crew are alternately chatting and army-crawling toward those first two, I've got messy covered, having earnt the dubious distinction of 'first to faint on the field'.

The annual Tough Guy and Gal Challenge is a running race, a six or twelve kilometre slog through a mud-slick, obstacle-ridden course. It's a new Colosseum; a proving ground, full of figurative lions; a Hunger Games lite, where we all volunteer as tribute. And – despite the supportive UniRec staff, and almost three dozen like-minded modern gladiators – it's beginning to seem like a really, monumentally bad idea.

Milly, a new personal trainer, informs me that usually only half of the event demands actual running, because of the long lines leading up to the obstacles. “I usually run it all, though,” she winks at my dismayed, beetroot face.

The Tough Guy is based in the sulphurous heart of Rotorua, and my chubby inner child can already smell the brimstone. But no pitchforks are present now; these folks are here of their own volition, rocking out burpees and squat jumps like so many rice bubbles under the trainers' watchful eyes.

When my new teammates break for a swig of water, I'm inundated with concerned inquiries, and the instructor gently advises me to stop being an idiot and put my feet back in the air. To their eternal credit, not a single other wee-hour warrior has dropped out of the class, despite pushing to the absolute limit. My invalid self is vicariously proud of them.

It'll probably take more than the next five Thursday morning training sessions to toughen me up for battle, but I'm already on the ground; there's nowhere to go but up.


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