When it comes to a real living action woman, Karen Russell isn’t far off the role model.
Mess with her and you mess with her guns, no really. No really…
Okay Karen tell us why you make Arnie weep….What is your CV
I graduated with a Sports Science degree from the University of Brighton in 1995 where I was first introduced to Womens Rugby after which a Casualty Award rapidly ensued from subluxed shoulders, dislocated fingers and just general pain! I then became side tracked by the more gentler side of life, hugging small baby animals and being bitten by big dogs (and cats) as a Veterinary Nurse. I then realised it was not the career for me, I wanted to be shouted and shot at (?!) so a career in the British Army ensued, first as a soldier in the Territorial Army where it was a try before you buy kinda effort, then full time as a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Military Police serving in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since leaving the Army I have been involved in the world of Enforcement so continuing where I left off in the Military Police, I am an SIA licence holder and also Surveillance trained. I am a BSAC Sports Diver, the Zenobia and the Great Barrier Reef are amongst my favourite dive spots, Level 1 SAQ Coach, Level 1 Basketball and Level 1 Rugby Union Coach.
So you’ve seen and done more than a cackle of desperate housewife gym crew, what has been the most insane thing you’ve done?
The British Army offers up experiences most people will never experience so when the opportunity to throw myself out of a plane several times on my own in the name of ‘Adventure Training ‘ came up I jumped, literally, at the chance. Thirteen static lines later and no free fall I escaped with a reasonable amount of dignity and admiration for those who can do it properly!
How do you get your mind set right?
I am, unbelievably, quite a reserved individual, prior to major team events I tend to sit quiet and focus. I use a lot of muscle memory techniques and imagery. If I am stressed about something there is nothing better than doing some sort of physical exercise to release the endorphins and feel a lot more positive about whatever may be on my mind. There is also nothing better than a full 80 mins of full contact rugby!
I’m guessing fitness levels were bursting, what kinds of extreme fitness did you do?
I was never one for the extreme fitness sports and challenges I was a more team sports, throwing events kinda of a gal. I was extremely fit at University and was once compared to having the physique of a Gladiator (hopefully one of the women…) but again I was a Rugby and Hockey player whilst there. I represented my County at Schools level in both cross country and discus so more of the slow twitch fibre events. These days I maintain fitness by the use of HIIT and Tabata mainly due to long term injury to my knees.
What was the most physical challenge and mental challenge you faced and which was worse?
Physical would be anything I went through at the the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the endurance races such as the stretcher race were absolute killers and being one of the taller girls in the Platoon I tended to take the ammo boxes and stretcher more often than the smaller girls. I don’t tend to hold anything back in reserve so every event was given 100% and I cannot even explain the pain of lungs burning up in the icy air having gone over five kilometers at full pelt with Directing Staff constantly on your back. Mentally probably the time I was by the Shatt Al Arab water way in Iraq when a small child pulled a pistol out by me and some Senior British Commanders. I had a decision to make and thankfully it was the right one and that was to take the pistol from the child, it turned out to be a replica/toy pistol. On a Merlin (helicopter) back to the Contingency Operating Base in Basra an American Close Protection collegue said to me that he wondered why I had my pistol out then realised it was not mine. When asked what he would have done had the chuld produced the pistol in front of him he stated he would have shot the child. I did a lot of thinking that night about how it could have turned out differently and also spoke with one of my ‘Special’ friends in Baghdad about what had happened. Even now thinking about it this today I wonder if I made the right decision, had it been a loaded pistol then I and others may not have been here today. So I guess this was the toughest mental decison I have ever and will likely ever face.
Anything else hardcore to wow us with?
I broke my arm whilst representing the Womens British Army Rugby Union team who were ironically playing against the British Police. I sat for seven long hours without pain relief, the hospital will remain nameless, before finally being x-rayed and shoved full of morphine.
What is your life mantra?
Move fast stay low
And your five best tips to being epic and extreme?
Be confident, respect yourself, challenge your limits, never doubt your strength or ability, love life!
What’s the most beautiful thing/place you’ve seen?
The mountains whilst flying over Afghanistan, bleak and vast, unfortunately somewhere I will never see again. Also diving the Great Barrier Reef was stunning, I only hope I get the chance to go back before it is completely destroyed.
Have you any tattoos or body piercings?
I have four tattoos, the obligatory ‘tramp stamp’ which was embellished with a small tattoo above it whilst in Vegas (say no more), I have a dragon on my rib cage and a Japanese symbol for tiger (my Chinese star sign) on my left shoulder. I am aiming to get a cover up on this, probably a horse or maybe an actual image of a tiger….watch this space.
What’s left on your bucket list?
Cage diving with a Great White Shark or any of the ‘dive the Big 5’ list – Tiger, Blue, Mako, Whale
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