Former Wallaby Dean Mumm’s new challenge to raise money for BorneHRMI


There is plenty that might terrify you about being asked to trudge to the North Pole. From polar bears to frostbite, or simply collapsing with exhaustion, there’s no shortage of things to be nervous about when setting out on an arctic challenge across constantly moving sea ice.

But for former Wallaby Dean Mumm, the answer was none of the above. It was something else entirely that got his pulse racing as he prepared for the 2018 Borne Arctic Challenge.

As a former professional footy player, it wasn’t the physicality of the challenge – which would see him pulling a 40kg sled for more than eight hours a day, for up to six days in a row – that worried him.

“It was the loneliness,” he tells Health Hacker.

“That was the thing I was most scared about – just how much time you spend by yourself.

“The ice is so thin that you end up spending about eight hours a day by yourself and I was worried about where I’d get to mentally, about what I’d find out about myself.

“So I learnt to focus on the next step, the next movement. So for me, it became all about the sound of the ski sliding on the snow.

“It taught me to take it all one step at a time. I think that’s a lesson for anyone, anywhere. One step at a time.”

Part of what pushed an exhausted Mumm across the finish line was the fact he was raising money for his own charity, BorneHRMI, which focuses on research for the prevention of pre-term birth.

And it’s exactly that motivation which will soon see him set off on another gruelling challenge, this time hiking, canoeing and biking across Costa Rica, covering 285km in just six days.

“My wife and I lost four kids to premature birth and we’re raising money to try and ensure that other families don’t have to go through what we went through,” he says.

“We really want to make our mark on global research and this is how I can help.”


1. Train for the inside, not just the outside

“When I retired from football, I couldn’t even do a deep squat because my knees and my back were so sore,” Mumm says.

“These days, I train hard for a couple of days but then I might do yoga or pilates and I’ve finally understood that you can actually train to make yourself feel good rather than just smashing yourself all the time.”

2. Balance is everything

“I’ve been pulling a tyre up and down the beach preparing for this challenge,” Mumm says.

“But I’m also often the only bloke in my reformer pilates class, or I do yoga on the deck at home. It’s about keeping that balance between training hard and feeling good.”

3. Keep it moving

“When you transition out of sport you can really lose your sense of identity,” Mumm says.

“But keeping yourself active and feeling good, it becomes a drug in itself. When I come back from the gym, my concentration is better, I’ve got a real appetite, I sleep better and I just feel ready to take on life.”


Question: I’ve just started going to the gym more regularly, and I see blokes wandering around with all sorts of sports drinks. What’s the best thing to drink after a workout?

Answer: The truth about those brightly coloured sports drinks is that they’re really just flat soft drinks. In fact, one 600ml bottle can have over 35g of sugar in it, as well as 150 calories.

Considering you just exercised to burn those calories off, why would you undo that hard work by putting them straight back in? The very best drink to reach for after exercise is water.

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