Monday, 28 January 2013

Harry's Tough Guys

As fundraisers go, I think the "Tough Guy UK" competition is one of the most extreme.

A team of six crazy guys got together and created "Harry's Tough Guys", fundraising for the Trust.

They competed (and completed) in the "Tough Guy UK" challenge on Sunday, 27th January in Wolverhampton, with 4,359 other competitors, out of which 3,650 finished. Many couldn't finish the event due to serious injuries, shock and hypothermia, one competitor even sadly lost his life at the event.

Left to right:
James Nicholls, Scotty Parker, Jamie Cunningham, JJ Maher, Keith Williams, Andy Fairbanks

Here is some more infomation about the course:

Tough Guy claims to be the world's most demanding one-day survival ordeal.
First staged in 1987, 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 (using the pseudonym "Mr. Mouse"). It has been widely described as "the toughest race in the world", with up to one-third of the starters failing to finish in a typical year.
After 25 stagings of the winter event, Wilson still claimed nobody had ever finished the course according to his extremely demanding rules. The race, and its summer equivalent, has suffered two fatalities during its history.
Taking place at the end of January, often in freezing winter conditions, the Tough Guy race is staged over a course of between seven and eight miles (about 12 kilometres). 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 (see detail below). The organizers 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.
Although the course is adjusted each year, its features have included a 40-foot (12.2 metres) crawl through flooded underground tunnels, balancing planks across a fire pit, and a half-mile wade through chest-deep muddy water. 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.
Sounds horrendous. I knew when Harry's Dad signed up for it that it was going to be a difficult challenge, the more I read about the event and the more videos and pictures I looked at online, the more I began to fear for the health and the safety of the team.
The day came and I was more than a little worried about the prospect of neck deep, icy water, the running in ankle deep mud, the barbed wire, the fire and the electric shocks. But I also knew, that the Harry's Dad and his team, absolutely had the right frame of mind to get them through. Harry's Dad has a very realistic approach to life, no nonsense, no frills, no airs and graces, you know where you are with him - good or bad. I knew that he wouldn't take any passengers but I also knew that he would make sure that his team didn't wind up feeling sorry for themselves and letting them straggle behind. He had always said that they would all help each other throughout and carry each other where neccessary. It was those qualities, in Harry's Dad and also the other team members, that gave me confidence that they would all complete the course.
They certainly weren't in it to win it, but they all managed to get to the finish line in one piece, and while a few of the team looked like they might have needed treatment for hypothermia they all took care of each other and all came home with just a few sore spots and grazes.
Here are a few quotes from the team about their experience that I thought were quite touching:
[Scotty Parker] The tough guy experience was honestly the most hardest thing I have ever done physically and mentally, but the most rewarding feeling especially knowing the fight little Harry had and we were fighting for him. I was so cold in the ice lakes we swam , colder than I've ever been, even skiing in -20 conditions , the slaloms were exhausting whilst trying to fight against the people, the gradient and the wet thick mud but the most painful was the electric fence shocking my head- but I'll be doing it again next year!! ( although I didn't quite say that yesterday!!)
[JJ Maher] I am Jamie's best friend and have known him for thirteen years.We first met at bicton college.So the harry cunningham trust is very close to my heart.This was the second time I have done tough guy.The first time I did it was back in 2010.When i was younger and fitter and to prove a point that i was tough enough to complete the course.This time it was not about me.It was all about Harry,Niki,Jamie and William.Trying to raise money and awareness for the harry cunningham trust.It was tougher this time around.Don't know whether that was due to being older and abusing my body more.Also more mud and water,which seemed more extreme!I knew I had to keep going otherwise I would let down them,it was not about me this time.So through the pain and discomfort I thought of Harry and the family and there was no comparison.What i was feeling could not remotely come close to what they have been through and continue too go through.So i kept pushing myself to go harder and faster.This was my motivation throughout the race.
[Andy Fairbanks] The most painful experience of my life but there was no way I'd have quit, the cold water was at times unbearable and with 1km to go, I thought I might not make it but I did, we did and the (Harry Cunningham) Trust grows stronger with every event.
Lastly, a big thank you to Pete Moss at Woodbury Garage for very kindly allowing the team to use their mini bus for the event, and also to Steve Worth at ProServe in Exmouth for all their help with printing the shirts for the team.
And very finally, a huge well done to all of Harry's Tough Guy. I am one very proud lady today to say that a team representing my charity, not only got out there and raised a heck of a lot of cash for a worthy cause, and also a load of awareness for our efforts, but also put themselves in a world of pain and pushed themselves to the absolute limits all in the name of my little man, and for that, I am truly grateful and in awe of each one of them. Thank you for making me, and Harry, very proud xxxx

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