Tough Guy

Amazing challenge or stupid idea?

    Tough Guy
    I love parks. As a child I enjoyed swings, monkey bars, ladders, slides etc. Even today I still enjoy playing on the swings, dangling from goalposts and climbing up stuff. Any excuse to climb up something is met with eager excitement from me. Add to that my interest in fitness and my employment in the fitness industry, where offers of challenges are ten a penny and you have an potentially dangerous mix. Channel that unique mixture in the right way and you have opportunity to do many hundreds of stupid/dangerous/fun (delete as appropriate) things.
    One of those is the world’s most difficult and physically demanding assault course, an event known only as ‘Tough Guy’.
    I first heard about Tough Guy a couple of years ago and thought ‘Yeah, I would like to do that one day’ and then filed it away in my brain alongside similar goals such as ‘run a Marathon’, ‘attend a World Cup Final’ and ‘give a mouse-sized shit about modern art’- you know what I mean- the sort of things that you would probably like to do, but the reality of it ever actually happening is slim at best.
    Life however, has a unique way of surprising us, and events undertook a sweeping turnaround for me and my diary when I accepted a challenge to run the London Marathon. I opened up that dusty cabinet of ‘one day’ ambitions deep inside my brain and had a look around, and I (stupidly) remembered Tough Guy.
    After signing my own death warrant by agreeing to plod around London with thousands of other idiots in April 2008, I suddenly turned my full attention to Tough Guy. I decided that if I was going to do all of that training for a marathon, I might as well utilise my newly earned stamina by dragging my sorry arse around fields in Wolverhampton, wading through mud and being stung by nettles.
    The course itself appears to be a mixture of tortuous runs, climbs, swims, slides and jumps. The mud factor makes Glastonbury festival look like a cricket pitch. There are nettles everywhere, deep, muddy water to contend with and a cross-country course that looks like a fat kid’s worst nightmare. The mid-race photographs reveal competitors looking in total agony, the kind you can’t even imagine. Post-race pictures reveal dirty, physically destroyed individuals with cuts, grazes and sorry look in their eyes. Strangely I am not put off- if anything I am excited by the prospect!
    The event has been running since 1987- furthermore, the number of competitors seems to increase year on year. Can it really be that bad if not only do people keep going back, but more and more want to join them?
    Next on my thoughts was the training, or more to the point, how do you train for such an event? The cross country section is easy to train for- I am surrounded by fields, hills, rocks and trees. That is no problem, but how do you prepare for the rest? How do you prepare yourself for dragging your soaking wet, freezing-cold, mud-encrusted body over a huge wall when you have just run 8 miles, been plunged into pools and have rolled around in so much mud even a pig would be bored?
    How do you teach yourself to deal with the sting of a million nettles? The obvious answer is to roll around in nettle bushes, but even here that would be looked upon as bizarre behaviour (and Cornwall is a county that considers ploughing fields a sport). I could rub myself down in Deep Heat or Ralgex, hoping that after giving myself second degree burns a few nettle stings would be the least of my worries, but again, that is a stupid thing to do. Even the winner of a Darwin award wouldn’t be that dumb.
    I have done the usual research on the subject- the official site, youtube, press reports etc and they all seem to agree that it is a pretty mental thing to do. There is however, something uniquely appealing about heaving myself through a tough mud-filled assault course after running 8 miles or so through fields. I am not sure what it is yet, but when I do I will let you know.
    I suppose that is what makes Tough Guy unique- you simply can’t prepare yourself for the course, without actually doing it. That is what makes the winner a real tough guy!
    There will be more on my Tough Guy adventure as the story unfolds!
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