Tough Guy Challenge: Fire, mud and skirts


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Not for the faint of heart, weedy of stature or flaky of disposition, this year’s Tough Guy Challenge saw around 6,000 competitors willingly hurl themselves into mud the consistency of chocolate milkshake, dart through fire, crawl on their bellies beneath barbed wire and splash their way through freezing water.

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The competitors, both men and women, were so tough that many wore skirts, fancy dress and other attire which might have hindered, rather than have facilitated, their daring endeavours.

The eight-mile assault course in Perton, near Shropshire, is made up of “25 obscurantismalistic obstackels (sic)”, which carry pain and fear ratings of between 10 and 1. From fields of fire to vertigo-inducing climbing walls, each obstacle has a suitably terrifying name, such as the Killing Fields, Colditz Walls and Underground Interrogation Pits.

Race organisers claim it is the toughest such challenge on earth. Of the estimated two-thirds of those who completed it over the weekend, few will have avoided the burns, blisters, scratches and bruises that the conditions demand. This is the 25th such annual event.