I really didn’t want to write this, but after several people contacted me today, I fear I may have to give this fire a little oxygen before snuffing it out for good.
I’m not even going to link to The Offending Article (TOA). It’s in a well known, dressed-up tabloid, famous for telling you things like ‘Eating superfood avocado will make you immortal, stop it from raining and make your mother in law like you,’ and the next day running with, ‘Migrant avocados stealing your children and giving you cancer.’ You get me? Good.
At the time of writing this, TOA has been shared over three thousand times, and the comments are in the 700s. That’s tens of thousands of people who will never get that time back. That comment section alone is, no doubt, a festering petri dish of all that is wrong with the world. Now don’t go searching for it, because I’m gonna quote this bad boy, verbatim.
It begins innocently enough. Lycra clad lady, arms folded in a defiant yet vulnerable pose. This lady signed up to a Tough Mudder, having ‘no inkling of the devastation her decision to take part would cause her.’
Babe, people literally jump over fire and run through electric wires in the ads for these things. If you had no inkling, perhaps your inkler is broken.
Then comes the usual bilge that heaps scorn upon those able to afford obstacle races. Apparently nearly half of us earn over £63k a year, which is both astonishing and irrelevant. I’m not one of those people, but if you are, can I marry you?
Apparently complaining lady, not content with having a whole other article about her injuries two weeks ago, would have been alright with breaking an ankle or something, but she’s annoyed that she smashed her teeth up. I would be too, but I have myself discovered, entirely by accident, that you can smash your teeth on the floor merely wandering around on a basketball court, resulting in years of pain and thousands of pounds worth of dental treatment. So smashing your face to bits is not something unique to Tough Mudder, I’ll tell you that for free.
Next, there’s a snarky jibe at the type of people that like to obstacle race. ‘With names like Pain And Suffering, World War Run, Total Warrior and Ultra Beast, they’re aimed at a crowd desperate to prove how tough they are — and these days that includes women.’
These days? Yeah, this is absolutely what Emily Davidson had in mind – the dawn of an era in which women can desperately prove how tough they are by jumping over haybales and tyre walls. I tell you what, I wake up of a morning, fucking desperate to prove how tough I am. What a time to be alive.
Steady on, we’re coming up to my favourite quote now.
‘Thanks to gender equality in the workplace and constant messages of empowerment, many young women believe that whatever a man can do, they can do, too — including gruelling physical endurance feats.’
SILLY YOUNG WOMEN. Now that we have equality (lol), and some daft little sense of empowerment, we seem to think that we can do the running like what the men do. When will we learn?
I’m still reeling from the idea that she thinks we’ve achieved gender equality in the workplace, and hasten to point out that had that actually been the case, it’s unlikely she’d be writing bilge like this.
But wait, there’s more…
‘More than a third of marathon runners in the UK are now female — and participation in the new obstacle races is seen, too, as showing you can ‘keep up with the boys’.’
Or, now here’s a complex thought – maybe there are some women that just… Like running? And their decision to go into OCR has literally shit all to do with boys?
‘But as the number of participants rises, there is concern that people — especially women — are entering these events on a whim when in fact they require weeks of training.’
There is literally no concern that women are entering these things on a whim. Did Donald Trump write this?
A nursing assistant chimes in, with a very helpful comment, ‘These events are dangerous’.
This bird works in a ‘busy A&E department near Manchester’, where I should wager that even Friday nights are dangerous.
Now we’re pretty bored with this injured lady, so we move on to an equally sad looking fracture sufferer, who ‘didn’t realise the hidden dangers’ of obstacle racing. This lady tripped on some rocks under the water in a river, and seemingly couldn’t believe that the organisers hadn’t smoothed the riverbed in preparation for her crossing. Apparently she tore ‘all the ligaments in [my] ankle’, yet was still able to ambulate because of how cold she was. This is frankly miraculous, and she’s mystified as to why it is now so horribly damaged.
She was also flummoxed to find that dirty water can give you infections, which is astounding to me, as every race with water inclusion mentions it in their warnings. She goes on to state that ‘horrible’ kidney infections after races are ‘almost an unspoken thing,’ which I can tell you now, if you’ve ever met a Mudd Queen, is categorically not true.
She goes on to say that she isn’t really surprised that jumping into dirty water could give you an infection, but it ‘never even occurred to [her] when [she] signed up’. So obviously it’s someone else’s fault. Now she spends her days warning people, ESPECIALLY WOMEN off OCR. What an angel.
Now after that little bout of scaremongering, the author has to admit that death and serious injuries are a rarity in the OCR world, which rather puts the kibosh on a needlessly negative article, does it not? But no, she continues.
“Joint injuries are on the increase and female competitors are more at risk than men.”
‘‘Women definitely need to be more careful. Generally, their knee ligaments are less protected and hence more vulnerable. Also, many women tend to have a slightly knock-kneed posture and internally rotated hips, which also puts strain on the knees.
‘On top of this, the strength of a woman’s ligaments is affected by their hormones and so this is affected by the menstrual cycle. Ligaments become more lax during the menstrual cycle, which means the knee is most probably more vulnerable to injury.’’
You know what girls, just stay at home and tend to your knitting and kittens. Take your loose ligamented, knock-kneed, bandy little legs back to the kitchen and wait for the mens to get home from their manly, manly runs. And while you’re at it, just stay in bed for five days a month, because your hormonally weakened legs probably can’t even take a jaunt down the stairs, let alone a trip through a tyre mangle.
Then Pete comes in and says some right and heroic things about encouraging people into exercise, which is kind of the fucking point here. I mean, this is a newspaper that will call you a reckless cartilage murderer for going for a run, but in the same edition, place an ugly red circle around a celebrity’s cellulite and call her an unfit, lazy bitch who should just crawl into a cave and eat herself to death. So, what’ll it be girls, the rock, or the hard place?
Then there’s some ‘graphic’ pictures of a swollen ankle, and what looks to be some lady’s hairy toe.
Another injured party then pipes up about some bit of her fractured heel bone floating up to her ankle (miraculous!) and causing deformities. She’s not wanting to do a Tough Mudder ever again, but thank heavens, her husband is still up for it. She’ll probably just stay home now and make sure his tea’s ready for when he comes home, the tired soldier.
So there you go, girls. If you were under any illusion that you were empowered, capable, and ready to try this excellent sport, think again. Get yourself down to soft play with the rest of the ligamentously challenged population and leave the OCR-ing to the men and their meaty knees. But be careful, I’m fairly certain you can still catch norovirus from the ball pit.