Tough Guy claims to be the world's most demanding 1 day survival contest.
First stages in 1986, the Tough Guy Challenge is held on a 600 acre farm in Perton, Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton, England, and is organized by Billy Wilson. It has been widely described as "the toughest race in the world", with up to 1/3rd of the starters of the racing failing to finish in a typical year.
After the 24 stages of this winter event, Wilson still claimed nobody had ever finished all the course according to his extremely demanding rules. The race, and its summer equivalent, has suffered 2 deaths during its history.
Taking place at the end of January, often in freezing winter conditions, the Tough Guy race is staged over a course of between 7 and 8 miles. It consists of a cross country run followed by an assault course. The organizers claim that running the course involves risking barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, electric shocks, sprains, twists, joint dislocation and broken bones.
Although the course is adjusted each year, its features have included a 40 foot crawl through flooded underground tunnels, balancing planks across a fire pit, and a 1-2 mile wade through chest deep muddy water. Marshals dressed as commandos fire machine-gun blanks and let off thunder flashes and smoke bombs over the heads of competitors as they crawl under a 210 foot section of barbed wire. Until 2000, some runners took part in the event carrying heavy wooden crosses.
Entry fees range from 80 British pounds to 1000, depending on the sign up date. Entrants have to be 16 years old or older. The event regularly attracts fields of up to 6,000 competitors, many from the U.S. and more than 20 countries around the world.
Before taking part, entrants must sign a "death warrant", which acknowledges the risks and dangers, and which the organizers claim absolves them of any legally liability. First aid is provided.
The winner of Tough Guy in 2009 was James Appleton, a 23 year old student from Cambridge University in 1 hour and 18 minutes.
In 2010, despite especially cold conditions, Paul Jones (1:18:53) won the race and 5 other men were
inside 1 hr. 21 min.
Deaths and Injuries
In 2000, 1 competitor collapsed midway through the race and later died in the hospital, reportedly of a massive heart attack brought on by extreme hypothermia. According to race records, this was the first fatality in 15 years of the race.
In 2007 a man in his 30's collapsed and died when taking part in the summer version of the competition, the "Nettle Warrior".
Other injuries suffered in the event are common. Local newspaper reports suggested that among the competitors in the 2009 event, one suffered a broken neck, while there were a dozen broken or dislocated bones and 600 runners, including the winner, suffered hypothermia.
The Nettle Warrior
Nettle Warrior is the summer version of Tough Guy, first stages in 1998, and is normally run at the end of July. Though the course is essentially the same as Tough Guy, there are some differences. Nettle Warrior involves 2 laps of an area the organizers have called "The killing fields", a log carry and some rafting as part of "The Lake" obstacle.
The Competition Course
The Race consists of a cross country run, followed by an obstacle course, referred as the "Killing Fields".
- Country miles-A 6 mile cross country run.
- Slalom-An up and down slalom, consisting of running up a hill and back down.
- Ghurkha Grand National-A series of fences, ditches and jumps with cargo nets to scramble under.
- The Tiger (followed by Sting in the Tail)-A 40 foot A-frame, crossing through hanging electrified cables and another 40 foot A-frame.
- Scaffold Bridge-This is traditionally the location of a water break.
- Colditz Walls-Three progressively higher walls-6, 9 and 12 feet high.
- Behemoth-Four tall platforms with ropes stretching between them.
Battle of the Somme
- Fiery Holes-A series of muddy water ditches, followed by burning bales of hay.
- Tire Crawl-Tunnels created from tires.
- Swamp-Knee deep mud crossing with a vacuum that will suck in the strongest of men.
- Vietcong Tunnels-Underground tunnels created from concrete pipes.
- Sky Walk and Paradise Climb-A cargo net which leads out to ropes draped across a pond.
- Splosh Pool-A recreation of walking the plank.
- Underwater Tunnel-Three poles to duck under, leading up to the underwater tunnel.
- Brandenburger Gate-40 foot vertical wall climb.
Deux Chevaux Island
- Death Plunge-Planks of wood extending out over a lake.
- Jesus Bridge-A bridge of barrels and planks of wood.
- Dans Deceiver-A vertical cargo net, followed by a declined cargo net.
- Dragon Pools-Series of ropes stretched across the pool.
- Somme Surprise-Barrel rafts tied together to form a bridge.
- Stalag Escape-20 foot crawl through mud, under barbed wire.
- Tire Torture-A path of randomly laid tires to stumble across.
- The Anaconda-A series of large concrete pipes.
- Viagra Falls-A steep muddy hill.
Last Man Standing
There is also a smaller course for participant of that day's event. It consits of:
- 45 foot underwater swim.
- Scottish Thistle Hill roll.