When the going gets tough, Tough Guys get going


When first hearing this event, I pictured 6 foot 8 strongmen flexing their muscles, most likely in preparation of pulling a lorry up a hill, but what I actually discovered was something far worse.

Approximately 8 miles of mud, freezing water, cargo nets, concrete tunnels, more mud, electric shocks, more freezing water, torture chambers, fire-walking, yet more mud, and pain.

Widely-regarded as the hardest assault course in the world, each year thousands of ‘Tough Guys’ (girls included) from around the globe take on this fiendish assault course.

A legal contract nicknamed the ‘Death Warrant’ states the farm on which Tough Guy takes place takes no responsibility for the death or harm of anyone foolish enough to take part, confirming the sheer scale of the task ahead.

The event itself looks daunting, but the training is just as brutal.

I am no stranger to physical exercise or hard training, having won national medals for athletics during a 5 year athletics career spanning back to the age of 13, and as such I assumed the training regime I had set myself to deal with the Tough Guy obstacles would be a piece of cake; I was wrong.

I had singled-out three main barriers which could prevent me finishing the course; hills, fatigue, and cold. Being from Peterborough (the biggest ‘hill’ is probably an escalator in the shopping centre), I decided training for hills would best be left until being back in Durham.

However fatigue and cold were dealt with by going on a mile run, jumping in an ice-bath at home, and repeating…6 times.

Tough Girl Beth Hudson has dealt with the cold with a swim in the North Sea on Christmas day, and Hannah Howie opted for skinny-dipping up in sunny Scotland, while the Sunday previous to the event they had a mass ‘dunking’ session in the river next to Collingwood Boathouse.

and I took to swimming across the river from Hild & Bede boathouse, avoiding the fury of rowers and their boats, and up to the Education building on a continous loop (a similar tactic being employed by Krystina Warrington), all in the hope it will carry us to the end of the event relatively un-harmed.

Mud is an obstacle I have yet to deal with, and is often referred to as the hardest part of Tough Guy as the mud adds weight to already tired legs and slows your progress through the obstacles.

However, Charlotte Duxbury informs me she took part in a Muddy Races run, where she ended up needing to get pulled out from the mud!

Others have focussed purely on ensuring fatigue does not get the better of them, with Jennie Swain even going on a 12 mile run on New Years Day (if you can run with a hangover, you can do anything), whilst Dominic Buscall and Harry Plunkett have been clocking up the miles for the past 3 months.

This is just a brief overview of the levels of training people are willing to go to conquer Tough Guy and confirm themselves as some of the Toughest people in Durham.

Despite being told repeatedly the feeling at the end of it is one you will never forget, whilst swimming in the river at 8am it’s very hard to remember that.

Being a Fresher, this will be my first taste of Tough Guy, and I only hope that I along with all my fellow Durham students will complete this mammoth task and live to tell the tale.


by Michael Galea

By the time you read this I will most probably be recovering from hypothermia or in a body bag bound for the Wolverhampton morgue, or maybe with a bit of luck I’ll have completed the course and raised over £400 for Help the Heroes.

My main concern is that at 46 kilos I am almost certainly one of the lighter competitors making up this year’s DUCK Toughguy team.

I have wanted to do Tough Guy since hearing many of the epic stories from those who undertook the challenge last year, and perhaps just to prove to everyone that despite my size I am tough!

Upon signing up I was told by Archie Dallas (DUCK manager) that it was all in the head and I’d “walk it”.

However this outlook was soon shattered by both friends and acquaintances who claimed that I faced an impending death by hypothermia, electrocution and exhaustion.

The best responses came from my father who simply stated: “But you’re not tough…”, and the nice lady at the DSU reception who claimed I weighed as much as her eight year old son!

As a member of DUBC’s men’s fresher eight last year I am used to extraordinary feats of endurance that are both physically and mentally challenging, then again as the cox I was never intimately familiar with this.

Over the last few weeks I have taken up regular exercise in order to improve my fitness.

I have done several runs, some as far as twelve miles, spent hours rock climbing and most recently went for a dip in the river followed by a series of punishing hill sprints up Windy gap with Archie Dallas.

I have also purchased a wetsuit that disconcertingly fits perfectly, in spite of the fact it is ‘age 12-13’. Hmm… maybe Tough Guy was a mistake!

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