Overcoming obstacles: No challenge is too tough for this mother

Cancer and stroke survivor Samantha Boughen took on the infamous Tough Mudder adventure race last weekend, proving anything is possible.

By Jennifer Pinarski
Overcoming obstacles: No challenge is too tough for this mother

Samantha Boughen begins the Tough Mudder challenge at Mount St. Louis Moonstone Ski Resort. Photo: Samsung Canada.

While those around Samatha Boughen turn to her for inspiration, it’s her family that this mother of two draws her courage from. Indeed Samantha has needed courage this year — the Clinton, Ontario woman has beaten intestinal cancer and survived a mild stroke, all the while keeping her eye on the goal of finishing the notorious Tough Mudder; a 21-kilometre obstacle course race that pits athletes against some of their biggest fears. That’s right, while recovering from her health challenges in early 2012 she signed up for one of Toronto’s most difficult adventure races. 
Samantha and nine other women on the Samsung Canada-sponsored team, Tough Mothers, completed Tough Mudder this past weekend. Here, she shares how she faced down her fears, inspired a community and conquered Tough Mudder.
Balancing motherhood, athletic training and a career
Staying organized and sticking to a schedule is key. Between her two part-time jobs, two active sons and a husband that works many hour of overtime in the summer, the Boughen family relies on smartphone apps and a master calendar to keep her home and training running smoothly.
Training for Tough Mudder
A veteran 5K and 10K runner, Samantha continued running three times a week, but added boxing, weight lifting, Crossfit and stair repeats to prepare her body for Tough Mudder. On weekends, Samantha gathered her teammates for obstacle course training. It was during these weekend training sessions that truly built-up trust between the friends (one weekend training challenge included having to fall into your teammates arms from an 8' wall). “I would trust these women with my children”, Samantha shared. Her athletic sons also ran and went to the gym with her and she credits fitness for bringing her family together.

Song that pumps her up
"Shake That" by Eminem. She makes sure that her sons aren’t around when it comes on!
Motivation during training and on race day
In the lead-up to Tough Mudder, Samantha cheered on her teammates via Facebook, sharing inspirational quotes and pictures. When doubts crept into her or her teammates minds on race day, she kept picturing the finish line, the pride she would feel crossing it and repeated her personal mantra “You never fail as long as you try”.

The most surprising Tough Mudder challenge
Samantha’s dedicated training prepared her for the physical challenges of the race, but what she wasn’t prepared for was how much of a mental and emotional challenge Tough Mudder was. Right until the start of the race, her older son was sending her encouraging text messages. Cheering on her teammates as they overcame their fears and even helping out fellow racers who were doubting their own abilities to complete the course, added up to an emotional and memorable day.
What's next?
Samantha’s 14-year-old son wanted to participate in Tough Mudder alongside her, but in Canada the minimum age is 19. Instead, the pair will compete in a triathlon on September 16th, with Samantha joking that the triathlon will seem like a piece of cake compared to the grueling Tough Mudder. Samantha intends on participating in Tough Mudder for the next five years until her son is able to race alongside her. That said, she plans to dial back her training over the winter months to spend more time at the hockey arena with her sons, both of whom are talented players.
The inspiration for great things
For a woman who has inspired her family, community and friends, it’s her sons and husband that are the greatest source of pride for Samantha. Each step of the way they've cheered her on, helping her find faith within herself to overcome every obstacle.
This article was originally published on Aug 21, 2012

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