The Tough Guy race claims to be the world's most demanding one-day survival ordeal. Since it was first held in 1986, it has grown to become one of the biggest events in the adventure racing calendar, with up to 6,000 entrants per year from the UK and countries all over the world.
The Tough Guy is held on a 600-acre farm in Perton, Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton, England, and is organised by Billy Wilson, a former Guards officer in the British Army.
The Tough Guy is held at the end of January, meaning that competitors face freezing winter conditions. At the heart of the race is a cross country run of seven to eight miles, but it is the bizarre obstacles that set the race part. This is no mere run.
Although the obstacles change a little each year, typical features include a 40-foot (12.2 meters) crawl through flooded underground tunnels made from concrete pipes, balancing on planks to cross a fire pit, and a half-mile wade through chest-deep muddy water.
As if this weren't enough, you will also encounter marshals dressed as commandos firing machine-gun blanks and let off thunder flashes and smoke bombs while you crawl under a 70-meter section of barbed wire!
According to the organizers, competitors run the risk of barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, electric shocks, sprains, twists, joint dislocation and broken bones.
As a result, all entrants must be over 16, and all competitors must sign a "death warrant", which acknowledges the risks and dangers – the organizers claim that this absolves them of any legally liability in the case of injury! Nonetheless, the St. John's Ambulance are on site to administer first aid. The cost of this torture? Entry fees range from £80 to £1,000, depending on the sign-up date.
Given the short actual distance of the race, this is less about fitness and more about mental attitude – this race is regularly described as "the toughest race in the world", with up to one-third of the starters failing to finish most years.
So if you think you are tough enough, not just physically but mentally, why not give it a go? What have you got to lose except for some skin, a bit of flesh, the odd broken bone…