A 6am wake up call in the van and it is cold. Obviously it’s cold, it has its own microclimate here and it’s race day!
We are super efficient! We’ve gone to bed in our clothes so roll out of our sleeping bags, chuck on our oversized neon orange Tough Guy marshall T-shirts and are ready to go. We head to Mr Mouse’s kitchen for breakfast – a luxury in terms of #vanlife, a chair to sit on, enough light to see what we are eating and warmth from the enormous open fire.
With 4 hours until the race start, MT and I help make some final adjustments round the course, under strict instruction from the main man himself. And we’re told that under no circumstances (!) must we deviate from them. Roger that!
There’s so much going on, so many friendly faces, the creation of an LT selfie album, and I’m wearing a ‘Judge’ headband I give myself an excitement headache.
If you know what Tough Guy is then I don’t need to say much about the day. If you don’t know what Tough Guy is, google it, watch this video, read an article. If I start writing about it I may never stop.
We spend the day on obstacle ‘Paradise,’ a monstrous 30 year old timber structure, 40 foot high, filled with nets, ladders and balance beams at the very top. As Judges, we are making sure ‘The Front Squad’ complete the obstacle correctly and do as Mr Mouse has instructed. If not, it is a strict disqualification. SUGAR LUMPS – this is a lot of pressure. Lets just say, the way he wants the runners to exit the obstacle (reminder: 40 foot high) is not the most conventional. Sincere apologies if I wrote your number down, but not to the guy that shouted at me with snot flying out his nose and spitting all over my friend Bloomers. Your number got written down with an explanation mark next to it!
MT and I then cruise around the course, handing out sweets, helping those in need and absorbing the atmosphere.
I am having the best day, but I still can’t shake the fact that I want to be involved. I want to be running, knackered, cold, dunking under the cold water. My neoprene is packed in the van, and it takes a lot to not go and chuck it on and get involved.
We feel so fortunate to be part of such an incredible community. Everyone is so lovely. There’s smiles, hugs, fruit cake, flapjack, incredible conversation and friends.
Can the day get any better?
Back to Mr Mouse’s kitchen with that awesome fireplace for a buffet dinner, red wine and conversation with incredible people; some of whom include a guy that has run 66 consecutive Tough Guy’s and Scott who climbed Kilimanjaro in 28 hours in no more than a t-shirt and shorts. My favourite question to him was “Are you on Twitter?” Jeez!! Of course he’s on Twitter LT, he’s written 4 f**king books! And then there’s Mrs Mouse casually roaming around. James Appleton over there. Scott Keneally the film maker of ‘The Rise of the Sufferfests’ over there. Mr Potter, the 49 year old horse taxidermy over there – I keep having to pinch myself… is this actually happening?
It’s like a festival. It’s got an incredible atmosphere. It’s like time doesn’t exist and everyone is having a great time, next to that fireplace that Scott Keneally made famous.
To finalise the evening, Mr Mouse chats to MT and I about our Atlantic row very seriously, gives us with a book to read and signs mine. I hug him to thank him of having us in his home – he tells me he doesn’t hug but that doesn’t stop me.
We leave later than planned and drive home spending the next 2 hours trying to digest what has just happened. MT says he needs time to process it. We agree it’s like a fairytale land there. A magical place. I can’t describe it. I knew Tough Guy was one of the greatest obstacle courses around but now I know more, I love it and respect it even more than ever. I hope I get to run it soon!
Back to normal life…….