John Mccutcheon

World's toughest 'Mudder' defies HIV to compete

DEANNA Blegg is one tough mudder.

The 45-year-old mother of two won the female division of the World's Toughest Mudder competition last year.

Her feat as an athlete is even more remarkable given that she is HIV positive.

Deanna, who will line up with the national team at this weekend's Tough Mudder at Caloundra, said she had learned over the years how to handle her body.

She said training for adventure and endurance races was a matter of balance.

"You've got to keep your immune system strong. It's a fine line between training enough and not over-training," she said.

"For me, it's about learning about my body and being very good at reading how it's feeling."

Deanna's fitness level is at odds with the prognosis she was given when she was diagnosed as HIV positive after contracting the illness from a boyfriend.

At 24, she was told she had five years to live.

With medication and healthy living, she has been able to manage her condition, and not only stabilise but improve her health.

Deanna conceived and gave birth to two healthy children now aged 15 and 11 without passing on the infection.

But after a couple of years of motherhood, the former triathlete was ready to get back into sport.

"I had kids, I was bopping around, my health was good, and I started adventure racing," she said.

The sport comes with the occasional knock and scrape but she said most sports had "blood rules" and she was confident of not presenting a risk to other competitors.

Deanna said she had taken skin off in one race, but simply "plugged the holes" with mud and avoided further obstacles.

"I know how to look after myself and look after people around me. I know what I need to do to be safe and not cause anyone any concern."



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