Ever fancied the bragging rights from completing the toughest race in the world? Then the Tough Guy Challenge is for you. It is the original one day endurance course dating back to 1987. It will test your fitness, endurance, speed, stamina and most of all, your mental toughness all in one go. Typically around 30% of those who start never make it to the finish.
Tough Guy is the brain child of Billy Wilson, also known as Mr. Mouse. It is held in Wolverhampton annually to raise money for charities. The funds raised are split between The Tettenhall Horse Sanctuary (nominated by Mr. Mouse) and other charities chosen by participants. Last year DUCK (Durham University Charity Komittee) raised a massive £21,183.94 and of which, £16,683.94 went to Help for Heroes.
The official Tough Guy website claims the course is 15km long with over 250 manmade obstacles such as 40ft tall A-frames, underground tunnels with electric wires, wading through chest deep water and running though fire. However from my experience it seemed to be twice that distance, probably because have been adding to the course every year since it began in 1987 so if you are thinking about it, better sooner than later.
It is not as easy as running 15km in a straight line. There is a lot of mud, a lot. That really saps your energy when you are fighting your way up a steep hill caked in the slushiest mud you have ever encountered, and then you find out that you will have to do that ten more times when you are only about twenty minutes into it. Quite a lot of the obstacles might seem like pointless repetitions of sadistic tasks like crawling under nets over and over again only to loop back to the same point. I feel the mental test is the true challenge beneath physical exhaustion. Grit and determination separate tough guys from all others.
I have done it twice now, last year it took me 3hrs33mins and this year I made a slight improvement to 3hrs13mins but somehow jumped from finishing 2500th to 1000th! I know these times are not very impressive compared to others who can do it in half the time, but I am proud that I have finished it both times. Running the course was no doubt the coldest and hardest thing I have ever done. Honestly speaking though, I think this year was ‘relatively pleasant’ in comparison to last year, from what I heard the wind chill was a whopping minus 17 degrees in 2013!
You are probably wandering why I do it? To be honest with you, I am not too sure really. The reason last year was that I fancied the challenge. Plus it was my fresher year, I had the ‘gung ho’ mentality of taking part in absolutely everything possible. It was great that I managed to finish it last year and then I guess I got hooked, or the cold has turned me insane. After finishing it once I have set the bar even higher, I am now aiming for the Tough Guy veteran status which requires finishing it 3 times.
Although I can’t remember much of the details, probably because my brain refuses to recall those painful memories, running the course really was an experience of a life time. You will find your limits, push them further than you have ever imagined and in the end, you will be officially certified as a Tough Guy. So if you are physically fit and fancy the challenge (or the title and the accompanied bragging rights) you might want to consider taking part.
*Disclaimer: Please enter at your own risk. This is extremely physically demanding and someone has died due to hidden conditions triggered by hypothermia. You have been warned.
Kyle is a 2nd year Engineering student at St. Mary’s College.