Badassery has been one of the past month’s themes here on the Tough Mudder blog. Last week, we took a look at some inspiring, badass women you’ve never heard of. The week before: real-life, everyday heroes who’ve made the world a better, more badass place.
As you know, here at Tough Mudder, we’re all about worldwide teamwork, camaraderie and staying behind to help others. So to wrap up our month of international badassery in true Tough Mudder fashion, we present to you three badass teams you’ve probably never heard of.
The Chernobyl Divers - Pripyat, Ukraine
On April 26, 1986, the world experienced its worst nuclear disaster in human history when a power reactor exploded at the Chernobyl Power Plant in the former Soviet Union. The accident killed 31 and left multiple countries in Europe exposed to toxic radiation, which would claim thousands more lives in the years to come.
Six-hundred thousand people across Europe helped in the cleanup effort, during which authorities discovered that a massive pool, filled with water to be used as a coolant in case of emergency, was so contaminated that it was in danger of exploding and enveloping all of Europe in an invisible cloud of toxicity. The only way the water could be drained was if a valve on the pool’s floor was pulled, thus opening a draining gate. Three plant workers, Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov (not pictured), volunteered to do just that, knowing that their bodies could never survive the exposure to radiation.
After their hair-raising mission, in which their light malfunctioned, leaving them feeling in the darkness, the three pulled the valve and resurfaced. As expected, all three died weeks later, doubtlessly saving the lives of thousands.
The Fukushima 50 - Fukushima, Japan
In the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011, which caused nearly 16,000 deaths, the world faced its second worst nuclear disaster in history when the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant began releasing radiation into the atmosphere. After 750 workers were evacuated, 50 refused to leave and insisted to stay behind to begin cleanup operations. With the support of the government, the Japanese prime minister stated that these workers were “prepared for death.”
In the first hours and days following the disaster, 20 workers were injured, four were exposed to radiation, two were badly burned and two others died making immediate emergency repairs. Inspiring the masses in the weeks that followed, the Fukushima 50 grew to 700 volunteers made up of firefighters, soldiers and other volunteers from all corners of Japan. “No one was forced to stay, but those of us who remained knew that we would be there until the end,” said one worker. “Our determination surpassed all other considerations.”
The Stirling Station Samaritans - Perth, Australia
Just before 9am on Wednesday, August 6, 2014, the train commute to Perth, Western Australia’s largest city, resembled any other workday for commuters. Then during a stop at Stirling station, six miles from downtown Perth, a man boarding the train slipped into the gap between the platform and the train. Unable to free himself, a man yelled for the driver to keep the train in the station.
With the train stopped, all passengers exited the train cars and, with the help of the Public Transit Authority staff, devised a plan to unite and push the train car away from the man, giving him enough space to free himself. After a few pushes, with more and more people joining the cause, the man was lifted out of the gap as the train platform erupted into applause.
Next time those cynical friends of yours tell you that humanity is falling apart, send ‘em here and show them what the people of the world are capable of when their fellow beings are in need of a helping hand. Better yet, show them how Tough Mudder can restore their faith in humanity by inviting them to join your Tough Mudder team today.