Tough Guy, an event that prides itself on number of dropouts and medical professionals required to to be in attendance, as well as providing competitors with a promise of providing a challenge that tests all fears, electric, fire, height, confined space and electricity. This is blended with a challenging cross country course that saps energy with every step. Ideal for a cold winter morning then.
With temperatures hovering just above freezing it was the the ‘perfect’ setting to test the mind and body, an alternative to the Dewsbury 10km.
The start is on top of a hill, Union Jack blowing in the wind, held long enough for doubt to creep in about the challenge ahead, until the gun sounds and smoke grenades are thrown, a roar goes up and a Braveheart style ‘charge’ ensues. I was fortunate enough to get a good start position as a previous entrant who signed up early, I was 30 seconds behind the ‘Front Squad’, Duncan was a little less fortunate and started amongst ‘wobblemuckers’ and ‘dickheads’, a bit of a hindrance to his time aspirations of sub 2hrs. In essence Duncan had 1000 people between himself and Front Squad, a difficulty added to when you consider the early obstacles and ‘bottle neck’ effect.
The first section of course takes you through some mud trenches and then out into the fields and woodland, with a constant boggy quagmire of mud, cargo net to go under and log to climb of over, interspersed with some steeper gradients, slalom style (up and down, not side to side). This is hard going on the legs. You then come back towards the ‘Battlefields’ via a water trench slalom, basically dropping down into ice water and climbing out the other side, gaining little more than 2m at a time for about 2 of a mile, hardwork for arms and legs, let me tell you. It’s then into the woodland running in shallow muddy trenches, over log fences and under cargo nets. This takes place over approx 6 mile and is sufficient to take you to the obstacles and last 3 miles feeling like cramp would set in at anytime.
After more water and tranches it’s towards the Tiger, a huges wooden structure covered with cargo net and rope, making it a challenge to climb, hard on arms and legs, there is a lower option for the faint hearted but pride shouldn’t let you even look at it. It’s then more waist high mud trenches and water, before moving into a ‘world of pain’.
There are tyre tunnels, I can’t explain how hard it is to crawl through a length of rubber tyres, tight space, hard rubber with little to pull along, and a face first drop into freezing muddy water……
There are high rope crossings, wobbly with multiple people making the crossing at same time, more cargo net climbs with high drops into hay bales, barb wire crawl with about 2 foot of space and at least 50 yards of stony, muddy, abrasive earth to crawl through, piles of tyres to run over.
The ‘Vietcong’ tunnels come next with a dark entry crawling on knees, wooden sticks dangling in your face scattered with powerful electric shocks, shrieks a plenty as they stun people to fall flat on their face, a drop into mud and a lengthy crawl up a dark sewage pipe, a short drop into mud then into another length of pipe that is about half size of first, barely enough room to drag yourself through. This is a challenge for me as not great at 18 stone in confined space !
Over another high climb and then down towards the water submerge……….I cannot do justice to the water temperature, other than to say you have to go under 4 equally spaced logs before climbing back onto land. Many passed out, I almost fainted with pain in my head, many decided to go round.
Another climb and then it was ‘walk the plank’ time, and a 6foot drop into a pond, too deep to walk, too cold to swim with any coordination, it’s unbelievable, left many hardly able to walk. Duncan felt the height of the plank wasn’t enough so actually jumped up, to come down, with immediate regret, body temperature was already low, so the jump meant he was fully submerged again, fool.
From here it’s the hard yards to finish, more mud and tyres and climbs, up another hill towards another pond and a water crossing to a steep hill climb and the finish line.
Blanket on, medal round neck, many then received medical treatment.
Was going to try and make this a witty and humorous account, but when my own toils were confirmed by a 5 x Ironman Duncan saying ‘that’s one of worst things I’ve ever done, if not THE worst’ I felt vindicated in my respect of an arduous test of mind and body. It seemed to turn Duncan into some sort of Mrs Brown’s Boys offspring with the word ‘feck’ being uttered repeatedly.
Some quotes from Duncan:
‘ So fecking cold I could not feel any part of me. Got my crotch snagged on the top of a log and had to take a few seconds at the bottom to check I hadn’t left my goolies still attached up there!’
‘What the feck was that obstacle about 2 storeys up and a piddly rope to climb down? I think only I tried it, then fell off half way down into the water and had to swim 20m to the bank. Other feckers ran around it! Even where I was there were feckers missing some off the steeples.’
‘I have never been so fecking cold ever! The underwater thing I went for it and did the last two logs in one, fecking couldn’t breath when I got out, feck!’
Rarely do you run alongside people crying, but at Tough Guy you do.
For that reason, we have both signed up for 2016 and implore ADRC members to join us on this ‘and now for something completely different’………………….
The below link is a clip of 3rd place finisher, talking about his experience, this lad has won it previously and finished 3rd, just shows wherever you finish, it ruins you:
The below clip is a guy who ran for charity ‘Always with a Smile’ a great song and great way to see most of the course: