WOLVERHAMPTON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Submerged in mud, running over fire, crawling through electrified wires – it’s not most people’s idea of fun.
But 1,500 people from 27 countries, many of them in fancy dress, did just that in the “Tough Guy” competition this weekend in central England.
This year the event had around 300 obstacles designed to test the limits of endurance, from the ‘Colditz Walls’ and ‘Tyre Torture’ to ‘Vietcong Tunnels’.
“I’m so happy that it’s over,” said Francesca Chiorando, 33, after completing the estimated eight-mile course on a bitterly cold January day.
“It’s cold, hellish, terrifying. To be honest I quite want to cry now,” said Chiorando.
She knew what it was like, because she had done it once before. So why come back?
“For the challenge, to see whether I can do it,” she said.
“This morning I wanted to find a way out of doing it.
“And then you get to the end and you think ‘actually, I have done this’. It makes you proud of yourself and what you have achieved.”
The event has been running since 1986, and claims to be the original and the toughest of the endurance races that are now held all over Britain.
“Every year we make it tougher and tougher,” said the founder, the self-styled Mr Mouse, 82.
Safety marshals are on hand to help out, and contenders do not have to complete every part.
“We advise them, don’t do it if you don’t fancy it. Come back next year.”
He stopped the event in 2017 due to his own health problems, but is pleased to see it back again.
Previously there have been thousands of competitors, but the numbers this time are limited to ensure everybody can finish before it gets dark.
Many will return again and again. “It’s like a pilgrimage.”