Tough Guy Challenge Jan 2009

posted on February 18, 2009 in Stuff

Months ago Lewis asked me if I wanted to do the Tough Guy challenge with him. The obvious answer was ‘no, not really’, but he explained that he was doing it anyway so I should probably do it with him. I knew this wouldn’t be a passing fancy that he’d quickly forget.

I could try and spin this out into a comical yarn, but I can’t, as it was indeed the toughest thing ever invented in the whole world ever. You need to be a couple of jelly beans short of the full crayon to even consider it.

Tough Guy Challenge

It begins as a cross country but you soon start hitting the obstacles. A few ditches and logs just to warm you up. A nice big climbing frame to pile over. Some dangly electric fence to wake you up. Then it got harder with the relentlessly zig-zagging energy sapping hill runs. At this point I was still smiling but things quickly got a fair bit tougher.

Tough Guy Lew

The Sun went away and the challenges got muddier and wetter and colder and wetter.

Tough Guy - The mud and tyres

Crawling through drainage pipes and running across fire I don’t mind. It was the water bit I was dreading. Already muddy and knackered you round a corner to find the course guiding you down into a freezing lake. Half wading, half swimming, by the time you reach the wooden obstacle the icy water is up to your neck. The wooden bridge (below) blocks your progress at head height. You can’t go around it, can’t go over it, with grim acceptance you know what you have to do…

Tough Guy - Underwater obstacle

*Sploosh* The cold is all encompassing. Worse you have to go under water twice more to make it out the other side. I can’t underline just how cold it was. It was insane.

After this point it’s all a bit hazy. Even our top-secret-insider-information-bin-liner-layer under our tops couldn’t stop the cold now. You’re running on feet you can’t feel and holding onto rope with hands you’re not sure are there.

Tough Guy ropes

When I reached the horizontal rope section I was determined not to go back into the icy water. I would make it across and avoid another dunking. I start inching my way across a set of ropes. It only had 2 other guys on so I was thinking there’d be less chance someone would start wobbling than on the busier ropes. However with me only a quarter a way across the guys near the end suddenly became unstable, the ropes swaying back and forth. Whilst I managed to maintain my grip, the other 2 fell into the water. No problem for them, they were nearly across anyway. But with the sudden change in pressure the rope shot out from under my feet and pinged right up past the rope that my hands were on.

I hung there dumbfounded, contemplating the water 4 ft below that I really didn’t want to revisit. I had neither the strength or energy to get my feet up to the rope. I just hung there until from over my shoulder a helpful fellow competitor who had noticed my predicament offered some advice. “Mate!” he shouted “you’re fucked!” He was right. My tenuous grip slipped and Kersploosh! back in the freezing water. Urgh, that was the hardest bit.

Anyway we made it round eventually, Lew in an admirable 2:11 with me rolling in 10 minutes later. Dizzy and disoriented someone thrusts you a sugary tea but my hands were shaking so violently none of it made it to my face. What a day. Rumour is it will be on ITV4, Sunday March 8th 2009 at 7:30pm, if you want to give it a watch.

And bravo to this guy for being the toughest of them all:

Tough Guy Green Mankini Man


Thanks for the photos Tor.

Update: watch it on the ITV website.