Amy and Charlotte complete the challenge and raise a massive amount for the branch! Amy has written about the ordeal and we're glad that they are both safe and well after the gruelling event.
We'd all like to send them a huge THANK YOU and a massive HUG! x
So, yesterday was the biggest challenge of my life, both physically and mentally.
Me and Charlotte signed up to the Tough Guy OCR a year ago, knowing it was considered the most difficult single-day course in the world and a third of the competitors don’t finish it, but naively thinking we would be in shape. I’m no stranger to tough physical events, but it was 100x harder than we thought it would be, and no amount of training could have fully prepared us.
We had a hectic start to the day as we hit traffic a couple of miles from the event, to avoid missing the start we had to get out the car and make our way on foot, stopping to pee in the bushes as we didn’t have time to find a bathroom. We barely registered in time before rushing to the start line, which was at the top of a hill that even goats would struggle to climb. We perched precariously on the hill/cliff as the drums started and smoke bombs went off, then the horn sounded and chaos descended; the crowd surged forward and when we were at the top, we saw the descent was so steep we had to slide down on our bums amongst thousands of other competitors (who seemed to fit the ‘tough guy’ profile far better than us). We yelled "this is really dangerous". Charlotte lost her gloves. And that pretty much set the tone for the next few hours.
The first part of the course involved a lot of running, with sporadic obstacles along the way such as giant hay bales (which poor Charlotte was allergic to). We managed to clamber over those without too much difficulty, and keep ahead of a lot of competitors. Then we came to the ‘slaloms’, which is basically a really steep 50m hill that you have to go up and down and up and down – these were the kind of obstacles that drained morale as well as strength, as our legs were burning and every time we made it to the top we could see how many more there were – so so many! Eventually we made it through, having fallen nearer the back of the crowd, and found to our dismay that they had run out of water at the first station. We had layered up and were so hot and thirsty, having run over 8km without a break.
We didn’t stay hot for long, as we soon came to the first of many water obstacles, which came up to our chests. We were already wet from the heavy rain but this was FREEZING, we especially felt it in our hands and feet. Still, as we continued running another 7km (mostly uphill!), we thought the cold wasn’t as bad as we imagined (the distance, however, was far worse – with the wet weather and all the people ahead of us, the ground was churned into thick mud that threatened to suck our shoes off with every step).
We faced a number of obstacles that included jumping, climbing, crawling and dodging. Then the awful mud pits – there were around 12 of them, one after another, deep pits we slid into, water up to our necks, before climbing 10 foot wall of slippery mud to get up the other side. This was where things began to get really, really difficult and we wondered if we could actually get over the obstacles or if we would get stuck. Somehow, we managed. The next station had also run out of water and I have never been so thirsty.
We reached the Killing Fields, relieved as this meant the long-distance running was over, but apprehensive as here lay the most challenging obstacles and we were already drained, cold and sore. So many more mud pits, log jumps, nets, tunnels, tyres, ropes and then the giant climbing frames such as the aptly named ‘Behemoth’. An hour in, I started to struggle, as my hands and feet were numb and gripping anything was difficult, some planks of wood were so far apart (clearly designed for people taller than 5ft1!) and my calf muscles kept seizing up whenever I raised them above hip height. Also, we were moving a lot slower, and the cold was really getting to us.
Then I lost Charlotte and I came very close to crying. My leg muscles were cramping up so badly I could barely lift them more than a foot off the ground, and as I looked at the obstacles ahead I wondered if I could physically do this before my body gave out. The horns sounded which meant the course would close soon before it got dark. I was so cold I had actually stopped shivering. I had to try to keep moving and mask my limp as people kept asking if I was ok and I was worried the marshals would remove me from the course, as I saw them take others away in foil blankets. I wondered if I was being stupid and maybe should give up before I hurt myself or came down with hypothermia. All that kept me going was knowing that people had sponsored me, and that I would really regret it if I didn’t make it. (And, I kept thinking I only had a couple more obstacles to go - the Killing Fields were so deceiving and kept doubling back).
I finally reached a water station that actually had some water and that revived me a little. Also, some of the other competitors were so kind, there were a couple of obstacles right near the end I literally couldn’t make it through as I had no grip and could barely raise my feet; some genuine ‘tough guys’ saw me struggling and lifted me over/pushed me up even though they must have been so tired themselves. It was all a daze. But I eventually reached the finished line, received my medal, reunited with Charlotte and changed into dry clothes.
Our lovely chauffeur Marie kept the heating on full blast on the way home but I didn’t stop feeling cold until after the second bath. I started to feel human again as I turned my electric blanket on and snuggled in my duvet.
My current foster kittens came for cuddles and I remembered why I put myself through that ordeal, so the RSPCA can help little animals like them, and with our local branch being so low on funds at the moment and ‘kitten season’ round the corner, every penny helps. I can’t imagine what will happen to animals if we have to start turning them away. So thank you to everyone who has sponsored us (I’m sorry I haven’t got around to individually thanking everyone yet), I’ll be keeping the BT Donate page open for a little bit for those who have pledged to sponsor, or anyone else who would like to do so: