Tough Guy race to start the New Year with a crash bang wallop

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The Independent Online

"I have built an assault course which is recognised throughout the British Army as the most arduous test of mental and physical ability" says Tough Guy's enigmatic founder Mr Mouse, and the January 30 2011 event near Birmingham, UK, shows no signs of deviating from age-old tradition.

Broken bones and burns are not uncommon sights amongst participants as, through Herculean effort, they try to overcome the ultimate obstacle course.

Sharp inclines, steep snaking runs, mudbaths and barbed wire are the least of their worries as hypothermia sets in over the course of a three hour endurance test.

Sections bear foreboding names such as The Ghurkha Grand National, Colditz, The Underwater Tunnels, and Viagra Falls that serve to ward off the unwilling as much as they do to challenge the hardier of men and women to make it through.

Budget-bound competitors can snag a significant discount, but have to agree to further humiliation on the day - acting as a human carpet for top dollar entrants, or completing an Extreme Bootlacing Challenge before the race proper: rolling naked through stinging nettles, chewing through electrified wires, or pulling carts with private parts among the options.

January may be too soon for those unprepared for the day's hardships. For them, there are plenty of other extreme races to pick from.

Tough Guy's own Nettle Warrior is in July, the 254km (156mi) Marathon des Sables is a six day ultramarathon through Morroccan desert, and the 'Peak 100' compiles the world's toughest races in one handy list.