So I’m going to compete in a national tug-of-war competition this weekend!
People look at me confused or with raised eyebrows when I talk about tug-of-war. How the hell did you get into that? What actually is it? Most people associate tug-of-war with a fairground-type environment, and it’s true that within farming communities it’s quite a big deal. Teams will train for six months pulling and six months squatting (if they are any good).
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But military regiments also dedicate people full-time to tugging teams, which is why I’m here (I’m not a farmer yet). It’s a combination of strength, power and blunt force trauma to the body when you get it right.
What I’m particularly learning is that it’s all based upon timing: pulling together, adjusting yourself to gain the most pressure. You can’t pull on your own, and you are only as strong as your weakest man. It’s addictive, it’s cool, it’s muddy. It’s very much a team sport.
My getting involved was an accident, and I really don’t know how it escalated so quickly. My Team Nurse teammates and I decided to do a tug of war competition and started practising every week at 7 a.m., learning from experienced girls. Being academics we questioned a lot of our technique. We also had a coach to look at us in case we turned out to be a no go. We weren’t entirely sure how it would pan out, but he seemed to think we had something to offer.
The team needed someone of heavier weight to anchor, and since everyone else was a running machine, I had something to offer. Power and strength. Loads of it. So that was me set as anchor then.
We were up for our first competition. We turned up in what can only be described as very large tatty rugby dresses and booty shorts.
Nobody thought anything of us. They did question whether we were even in the Army, but we soon set the record straight right from the first pull.
Yes, this is what I do. Traditionally you do tug-of-war in jeans. That will never happen for me. I can’t even wear jeans.
So from there I joined the Army Ladies team. And it turns out the Army are interested in setting up a ladies team to compete at nationals and go to the world championships in Malmo, Sweden.
So for the last several months I’ve been wandering the UK, pulling on all different sorts of gantries and slats. Sometimes in a barn, or in stables, or in open fields, or public parks. This past weekend I actually had to pull my team up a hill in the mud.
Team Nurse coming second in the Jack Smiths Memorial Competition in style.
I’ve had a lot of criticism for taking on this training. It’s a lot to manage, especially when I’m working hospital shifts, but I believe if you really want something you will make the time.
I’ve always dreamed of representing my country and excelling in sport. When this opportunity presented itself, I decided to make the commitment. It’s been hard, tiring, but worth the effort from the friends I’ve made, the people I’ve met, and the boost it gives me from trying something different. And, of course, winning shit helps, too.
Tug Team 2016