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Tough Guy virgin takes the plunge

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 28th January 2016
Tags  Paul Hayward   |   Tough Guy   |   Mr Mouse

OCR feature: Run247's Obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward faces up to the fact that, if he wants to be taken seriously in OCR, he'll have to do a Tough Guy event

Though Guy virgin takes the plunge

Long before I even knew what Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) was, Mr Mouse was challenging (or even goding) people to take on 'The world’s most demanding one day survival ordeal', namely Tough Guy. Those who have not yet had the privilege of racing Tough Guy or witnessing it, can check out the course preview through the emphatic 'Legacy of Mr Mouse' video (HERE).

Jon Albon, Obstacle Course Racing’s most decorated OCR athlete and the current World Champion, said to me in 2014: “I do not think you can be taken seriously in OCR until you have done Tough Guy”. He was referring to former team-mate, and BBC’s Ultimate Hell week winner, Clare Miller, who had just won it and not, thankfully, my credentials as a Columnist. However it struck a chord with me, as for three years I have reviewed OCR for Run247 and yet I have never taken on Tough Guy and experienced the 'Killing Fields' first hand.

It appears Alan White from my local boot camp, one of the nicest guys I know and still training at 50, has done it. So has Scott Langley, who is a tidy established runner. Yet neither of these fine gentlemen has ever done another OCR. Why is that?

Though Guy virgin takes the plunge

Another problem I have is that I get asked “what is OCR?” or “OCR? Is that Tough Mudder?”. I am able to reply to these, with some conviction, but I have never been asked “did you live through Tough Guy”. If I was, then as Jon said, how could I be taken seriously with my answer of “Oh I have not done it” or “It looks too dangerous / cold / wet”. This has made me feel that I have no option or anywhere to hide anymore.

I think I may have shied away from it due to the horror stories of epically cold water, huge 'traditional' wooden obstacles that touch the skyline and electric shocks. After seeing James Appleton’s experience last January (HERE), I did not think I ever wanted to do it.

Yet my moment of 2015 is was taking pictures of people charging down a hill at the start of Tough Guy, to the sound of bagpipes and cannons with smoke grenades going off everywhere. Even now I am smiling and it sent shivers down my spine.

So 31 January 2016 marks my debut at Tough Guy, a 15k OCR, where at least a third of the field do not finish. Even more appealing apparently is the fact that all competitors have some form of hypothermia at some stage of the race. I was part of the 'late buggers squad', the very back of the field with a 15 minute delay, but then I wimped out (sorry Jon) and upgraded to 'Mr Mouse Squad' and I am just near the start.

Some people claim it is a con to do this, but after a week of -4 degrees I am thinking it is more akin to a survival tactic. I will still get the chance to charge down the hill. If I am going to be the one of three that does not finish, then I want to do it in style at least and say I got to run down the hill.

I also need to apologise to my girlfriend, because I am yet again dragging her up at 6am to stand around in a field for at least three hours, to pass me my dryrobe and ask me “why do you do this Paul?” I am excited but also scared - a thirty percent drop out rate means that you cannot but respect this race.  

Though Guy virgin takes the plunge

More information on Tough Guy can be found at: www.toughguy.co.uk

Coverage of the 2015 event, from BMF Race Team member James Appleton, can be found (HERE) and (HERE)




About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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