Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
Tough Guy 4 – I’m Still Scared
For about a week now I’ve been feeling anxious, my sleep has been interrupted, I rouse early, wide awake and I’m on edge. I know why this is, it’s happened to me 3 times before, always at this time of year. It’s because I’m running Winter Tough Guy again this weekend. Strictly speaking, it’s not Tough Guy. The last ever Tough Guy was last year, mourned by all, but it is still that horse farm, at this time of year, with those obstacles and that man, in that kilt the conductor of this fiendish show. So I’m scared, maybe I should be used to this by now but I’m not.
Tough Guy was the first obstacle race I ever ran and I expected to be frightened then. What I didn’t know was that it’s the original obstacle race and is an experience that has not been replicated in any of the other events I have been to. For me, the real fear of Tough Guy is knowing that there will be a point out on the course when the height, the cold, and the tiredness will all conspire to make me feel like I can’t go on. It might happen in the famed killing fields, in the depths of big bear woods or the brutal hill slaloms, I don’t know, but it will happen somewhere. At that point I’ll will myself further on in the sure knowledge that what just nearly broke me will be thrown at me again, and again.
So why do I do it? I’ve had more success than I really deserve at obstacle racing, why do I keep going back. A lot will say Tough Guy is no longer the ‘toughest’ event out there, perhaps Winter Nuts holds that honour now (we’ll see in April). People have said that earlier Tough Guys, where the ever watchful health and safety executive were less aware of it, were harder. Why keep going back to an event that, frankly, scares me stiff?
It’s because of the way it makes me feel on the start line. Standing shoulder to shoulder with my RAW team mates on the Tough Guy start hill is one of the purest senses of comradeship I’ve ever felt. Charging down that hill with the cannons firing, drummers pounding and blue smoke billowing is one of the most adrenalin filled experiences I can name. Crossing the finish line, solo or with the team is a sense of true achievement (especially as it’s followed by a big hug from my Mum) and, most of all, when I’m in that place, where I feel like I can go on no longer, finding that strength inside of me, to go on knowing there’s more yet to come, is a truly magical experience.
It’s my fourth Tough Guy this year, as with each of the three before I’ll learn something about myself out on the course, and that’s why I keep coming back. When it comes down to it, it’s not about headbands and big brands, it’s not about selfies on the course or a cool T shirt at the finish, it’s about an experience where you go right to the edge of what you can do. For that reason, as long as Tough Guy runs and I can still run it, I’ll be standing on that hill in January.