Are You Tough Enough?

You can run a marathon but can you finish the Tough Guy 7 mile race?

That is the question everyone wants to know at the beginning of what sounds like a very brutal race. You thought the last few miles of a marathon were agony – try battling hypothermia, climbing to the top of a tower, plunging into an icy lake and swimming 30 meters to cross the finish line.

Martin Dugard, an acclaimed author and sports junkie I’ve written about before, just wrote a review of the Tough Guy that will make you itch for more than an urban run down the Greenway.

This is my life after Tough Guy, a seven-mile odyssey of pain, suffering, and freezing-water immersion. The title is tongue-in-cheek, but the cruel severity of the competition is not. Since its inception in 1986, Tough Guy has become an increasingly worldwide phenomenon, beckoning otherwise sane men and women to the British West Midlands in the dead of winter to sprint through pastures, scramble through thorns, jitterbug through electric cattle prods dangling like Portuguese man-of-wars from ropes strung above knee-deep mud, climb and descend acres of cargo netting, and swim underwater through an icy pond.

If you can imagine an endurance race that combines the absurd best of Monty Python with the punishing numbness of Navy SEAL training, then you can comprehend Tough Guy. To go one step further: If you are the sort of person who doesn’t just imagine such a race but also hears an irrational voice in the back of your brain as you read this copy of American Way (which you plucked out of the seat pocket randomly but now wonder if it’s part of some act of fate) asking if you are indeed Tough Enough , then I am almost positive that one January very soon, no matter the status of your marriage or career or credit card balances, you will not consider your life complete until a Tough Guy finisher medal hangs around your neck. You know who you are.

So I leap. The free fall is short, and the seconds underwater are far too long. I sputter to the surface, swim to shore, and then fling myself down into the mud to low-crawl beneath barbed wire as part of an obstacle named for the Battle of the Somme. There is much more hardship to come (yes, more icy water), but finally crossing that finish line and sipping my cup of hot tea with shaking, hypothermic hands is a most amazing moment of happiness.

Excerpts taken from the American Way Magazine published for American Airlines. Did I mention Dugard got paid to compete in the race and write the story?

[tags] Tough Guy, American, Martin Dugard [/tags]

2 thoughts on “Are You Tough Enough?

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