From viral meningitis to a tough mudder

3rd May 2017

One supporter helping us to make viral visible is Emma Thompson, from Paignton in Devon. In March 2013, the then 25 year old Emma began to feel unwell. She hadn't heard of viral meningitis before, but now she will never forget it!

Emma Thompson

However, fitness instructor Emma has fought back, refusing to let the disease win and taking on a Tough Mudder charity challenge last year to test her strength, stamina and determination.

“It was something I have aspired to do for a good few years after seeing a YouTube video of Tough Mudder in 2013,” she told us. The video gave me goosebumps and I set it as a massive goal to do one day.” 

“This was after recovering from viral meningitis. I had felt so ill for so long. I just wanted to feel healthy so I started looking at my lifestyle and started to exercise, and look at my eating habits. I eventually lost four stone, and I am now a qualified Fitness Professional. Last year seemed like that right time to go for a Tough Mudder.”

Horrid recovery 

“When I fell ill with viral meningitis in March 2013 I wasn’t informed by doctors how horrid the recovery would be. I was very confused, and actually rather depressed. Meningitis Now helped me to come to terms with what had happened, and educated me on the long-term effects of viral meningitis and this helped me accept the slow recovery.” 

“The Tough Mudder event was a thrilling day. I was on a high for weeks afterwards. The camaraderie of the event was fantastic, and can’t be fully explained - it simply needs to be experienced.”

“We were a rather large team and most of us fitness professionals, so we naturally had the tools for motivating each other. We were a mixed bag of women and men all various ages. Each one of us had different strengths and weakness making us a strong team, and we acquired two team mates on the way round.”  

“It had rained heavily all night and that morning so the mud was very, very muddy! This all added to the experience though. The obstacles were very varied, and each one had an element of physical and mental fear to overcome; well, for me anyway.”

It was a day I will never forget 

“My favourite ones were the mud mile, and Everest. Everest was a favourite simply due to it becoming a prominent moment for our team. We all got up after many attempts; we were not giving up. We would get every single one of us over. One lady from our team really struggled but was so resilient, in the end we took a different tactic to most, and dangled our strongest female backwards down the halfpipe enabling her to get lower down to reach for the lady we were trying to get up, and we sent our strongest male back down.”

“He ran behind her and pushed her at the point of leaping launching her into Lily and launching himself at some other tough mudderers. Everyone cheered, it was announced over the Tannoy and our team circled together in an embrace and cried; it was that emotional!  It was a day I will never forget.“

"My advice for anyone thinking of signing up this year would be ‘Go for it!’ If you have any fears, face them. And you will feel a massive sense of achievement like no other.”  

“Get a team, the team camaraderie will help you get round. However, everyone you meet will help you and spur you on. Be prepared to get up close and personal if that makes sense to your team mates and other mudderers.  Get good footwear with decent trail running grip, ensure you have compeed with you and some gell packs for a spike of energy when needed.” 

“With your training, work on all aspects, cardio, strength and muscular endurance. I would also recommend to go running and push yourself, then stop for a bit as in a good ten minutes or more, and then get back running. Do this a few times to help you get used to starting and stopping, as that could be a mental barrier for some. And just remember don’t take it too seriously!” 

Read Emma’s meningitis story.

Find out more about Viral Meningitis Awareness Week.

Sign up for a Tough Mudder.

Share your viral meningitis story.