Tough Guy is my favourite of all obstacle courses and having done the previous two winter events (https://chrislambracingdiary.wordpress.com/?s=Tough+guy&submit=Search) I was really looking forwards to getting on the course in warmer weather.
I’d just returned from a week away in Minorca on a family holiday so I was feeling refreshed and ready for a good race.
In the winter event the challenge is all about coping with the freezing conditions the course offers with it’s many water obstacles. The summer event is ran on the same 15k course but offers the added extra of the massively overgrown stinging nettles, bushes and bracken, left purposefully for runners to negotiate their way through.
On this late July day the British weather was uncharacteristically cold and raining throughout the entire day making the task even tougher.
I was starting in the Tough Guy squad (for those who have ran two or more past events) which was the second section to go at the top of a steep hill with the Front squad going off first at the bottom of the hill. I knew this would give me a slight disadvantage but as I charged down the bank and set off on the extended obstacle free run that followed it wasn’t long at all until I’d caught the majority and soon positioned myself in second place, just on the shoulder of the leader.
As we reached the first of two gruelling hill slalom I found myself in the lead. This wasn’t an intentional move but the front runner had slowed and I was still moving at a pace that felt comfortable to me. As I ticked off one hill after another I could see that I was significantly extending my leading margin but just before I completed the final one I noticed that second place had changed personnel.
Then came the first of the nettles. 6 feet high and very vicious. I’d drawn the short straw here as it was my job to set the path. I was trampling down the stingers making the going easier for those chasing me. I decided to slow a little and save some energy for the impending set of hills and the mass of huge obstacles to come. This resulted in me being caught by Dan Gill which was actually a welcome relief as I’d reached a section of the course so overgrown that I had no idea if I was going in the right direction or not.
As we smashed through the greenery we chatted about previous Tough Guy races and the OCR world Champs before getting serious as the killer climbs arrived.
Within a couple of hills another competitor emerged who was clearly strong on the inclines and he took the lead until the ordeal was finally over and flat ground as back upon us. We reached Big Bear woods as a three but came out of it as five with two Gurkhas joining what was now a very competitive leading pack. We fought it out over the next couple of miles with the lead changing several times but myself just in front for the majority.
Then as we reached the infamous Killing fields Dan made his move. I climbed the first of the huge wooden structures as quickly yet as carefully as I could but before I knew it Dan had build up a significant lead. One of the other five in the group had dropped back leaving myself & the two Gurkhas to lay down the chase. They were very fast on the obstacles but I was stronger on the running and the water sections and eventually shook them off.
With a couple of miles to go I caught sight of Dan again and gave my all to catch him. I was getting closer and closer but was unable to finish the job with my legs exhausted in the final stages showing me I’d given all I could on the day.
I was still pretty happy with second place in such a high esteemed event with such rich history and was pleased with how I’d coped on one of the toughest courses anywhere in the world in such inclement weather conditions.
For a more in depth review of the event and course please check out my review on the Muddy Race website at http://www.muddyrace.co.uk/race-reviews/tough-guy-nettle-warrior-2015-review/