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PHOTOS: The TOUGH race that no one has EVER won

January 31, 2014 08:12 IST

PHOTOS: The TOUGH race that no one has EVER won

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Taking place at the end of January, often in freezing winter conditions, the Tough Guy race is staged over a course of about 12 kilometres, and has been widely described as "the toughest race in the world.

First staged in 1987 in Perton, Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton, England, the Tough Guy Challenge is held on a 600-acre (2.42 square km) farm in Perton, Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton, England, and is organised by Billy Wilson.           

After 27 stagings of this event, Wilson claims that no one has ever finished the course, because of the extremely demanding rules.

We bring you images of some of the toughest competitors from this race

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Image: A competitor dressed as a knight runs through a fire during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England
Photographs: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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It consists of a cross-country run followed by an assault course, claimed to be tougher than any other worldwide, featuring 25 obstacles, including a slalom run up and down a hill, ditches, jumps, freezing water pools, fire pits and so on.

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Image: A participant pulls himself from a tunnel during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England.
Photographs: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

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The organisers claim that running the course involves risking barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, electric shocks, sprains, twists, joint dislocation and broken bones.

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Image: A competitor tries to avoid the water during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England
Photographs: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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Although the course is adjusted each year, its features have included a 40-foot crawl through flooded underground tunnels, balancing planks across a fire pit, and a half-mile wade through chest-deep muddy water.

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Image: A competitor wades through water during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England.
Photographs: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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Marshals dressed as commandos fire amphibious tank gun blanks and let off exploding flares and smoke bombs over the heads of competitors as they crawl under a 70-metre section of barbed wire.

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Image: A competitor poses for a photo during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England.
Photographs: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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Until 2000, some runners took part in the event carrying heavy wooden crucifixes.

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Image: A participant pulls himself through some tyres during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England
Photographs: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

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Entry fees start at £39 and increase every time that 300 people sign up, so the later one signs up for the event, the more one pays.

Entrants have to be 16 or older. The event regularly attracts fields of up to 5,000 competitors, many from the United States and various countries around the world.

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Image: A competitor pulls herself out of a tunnel during the Tough Guy Challenge on January 26, 2014 in Telford, England.
Photographs: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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Before taking part, entrants must sign a ‘death warrant’, which acknowledges the risks and dangers, and which the organizers claim absolves them of any legal liability in the case of injury.

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Image: A competitor slides down a mud banking during the Tough Guy Challenge in Telford, England.
Photographs: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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In 2000, one competitor, Michael Green, 44, from Leicestershire, collapsed midway through the race and later died in hospital, reportedly of a massive heart attack brought on by extreme hypothermia. According to Wilson, this was the first fatality in 15 years.

Other injuries suffered in the event are common. Local newspaper reports suggested that among the competitors in the 2009 event, one suffered a broken neck, another broken pelvis, yet another broken pubic bone while there were a dozen broken or dislocated bones and 600 runners -- including the winner -- suffered hypothermia.

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Image: A competitor reacts as she emerges from the water during the Tough Guy event.
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters

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Before he began staging the Tough Guy, Billy Wilson was already known as a high-profile organiser of road running races and a sometimes eccentric participant, most notably for taking part in the first London Marathon in 1981 dressed as a pantomime horse to raise funds for his Tettenhall Horse Sanctuary, which together with a local homeless hostel, is the principle beneficiary of the Tough Guy event.

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Image: A competitor smokes a pipe as he crawls under barbed wire during the Tough Guy event.
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters

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A former Grenadier Guards trained soldier in the British Army, Wilson's earliest sporting exploits were as a cyclist, a career that was curtailed after an accident on the Aldersley track.

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Image: Competitors jump across water during the Tough Guy event.
Photographs: Nigel Roddis/Reuters

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According to the Tough Guy website, “Tough Guy is a window of opportunity to test oneself, on every discipline in life, in one day. It becomes a fever to achieve, to fail, to come back, to attempt the chunks missed on the previous attempts.”

There are no Social/Sexual/Age barriers, once stripped of Materialistic Make Up it is oneself against the course with the simple security of the Family of Equals in front, behind and around oneself. Younger achievers view it as the window to adulthood,” it reads.

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Image: A competitor falls in to muddy water during the Tough Guy event.
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters

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Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters
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