After months of waiting impatiently for Tough Guy to come around and months of running through the local parks trying to clock up the miles, the three of us (Andy Caird, Steve Harris and myself Tristan Bawn) were finally in the car park preparing to start the race.
The weather had decided to play up a little with predicted temperatures of around minus five and a chance of heavy snow-fall, but we were determined to see just how tough the race really was and whether we could make it around without getting hypothermia.
The wind might have been cold but the atmosphere was electric and very high spirited, you could feel the adrenaline oozing out of peoples ears as we waited at the start line!
Looking around I could see all manor of costumes including every super hero and cartoon character you could think of (Danger Mouse being the favourite!) and even a few guys in mankinis. Soon to be famous all over the world’s papers. Fair play boys!
Suddenly we were off and heading around the first part of the course. It was a fairly flat run at first but soon turned into a muddy slog and led us too our first obstacle – two giant cargo nets. Unfortunately, being in the third group there was a bit of a queue, but our turn came and we got over it and as soon as we did the field opened up nicely. Good tip: Put a bit of effort in to get to this bit and avoid the bottle neck!
The slalom was a tedious part of the race, sending your legs in to orbit. It basically involves running up and down a hillside on a zig-zag course which is where you start to think this is going to get worse! Now the fun started as the three of us entered the main part of the obstacle course. I don’t think I have ever been in and out of cold muddy water so much in all my life. The variety of obstacles was immense and included everything from swamps, tyre crawl, tunnels, roped frames, underwater tunnels, walls, bails of hay on fire and more than I care to remember. I don’t want to give the exact course away because I think it’s best if you find out on the way round but one thing is for sure it has it all! In one section, you had a choice of attempting a cargo net scramble or high beams. Here you could cut out the crowd by carefully walking along a high beam about 30 feet in the air with a net some 10 feet below. Seeing an opportunity and forgetting that I actually don’t care for heights much I scrambled my way up. My heart was in my mouth all the way across, not that the other guys knew too much about it.
The water was so cold that I saw people being dragged out for their own safety and I can tell you it was freezing. The part of the course where you have to duck your head under a number of times was having interesting effects on even the fittest tough guy! Some could hardly say their own name and Steve was a little worse for wear after that one. This is also where cramp was starting to set in for me especially around the toes. We battled around the rest of the course, helping each other all of the way, and by the last 100 metres I was fighting cramp in my legs but there was no way I wasn’t getting over that line with the other guys. And we did get over together as we had started.
After getting our well earned medals and foil blankets we headed in to the barn to join the other tough guys and girls for a hot drink.
Unfortunately we all had the random shakes going on and most of the drink ended up over your shoes or your mate!! But the satisfaction somehow blanked the cold from your mind. The best thing about this race is not only that is it the toughest course I know of, or that you get a sizable piece of brass around the neck, but that everyone who entered was there to have a laugh and was up for testing themselves against the course.
This is well worth training up for!
Useful links: Tough Guy website