The Tough Guy Challenge has been staged near Wolverhampton annually since 1986 and regularly attracts 6,000 entrants.
By Conor Hogan
People come from over 20 countries to compete in The Tough Guy Challenge. It claims to be the toughest race in the world, and all the competitors are forced to sign a waiver that reads: â€œI promise not to make any claim against the organisers for bone damage, bloodletting, bruising, amnesia, delirium, hypoÂthermia, rigor mortis or even straw in my cup of tea.â€
The event takes place in January, and the conditions are often perishing. In 2001, over 700 people developed hypothermia. Last year, nearly 600 people suffered from it, including the winner James Appleton. That is not the only danger, however.
In one event, there was seven leg breaks, while broken necks are fairly common. In the 24 years of its existence, there have been two fatalities â€“ experienced runner Michael Green, 44, died in 2000 after having a massive heart-attack, while seven years later, in the summer version, a man in his 30s collapsed and died.
The event is organised by Billy Wilson, an eccentric ex-Guards officer in the British Army, who competed in the 1981 London marathon dressed as a pantomime horse. He started the event 24 years ago to raise money for the Tettenhall Horse Sanctuary, and the Tough Guy Challenge typically raises close to Â£170,000 every year.
He designed the obstacle course himself on his farm, and it covers an area of around 12km. He adjusts it every day, though generally it involves the competitor scrambling through a half-mile of muddy water, crossing planks over a fire pit, a 40-foot crawl through underground passageways filled with water, and a crawl underneath barbed wire.