Mud, toil, chills and sweat as English farm hosts last 'Tough Guy' race

PERTON, England (Reuters) - It’s been run annually since 1987, over, under and through 250 obstacles, along eight miles (15 km) of mud and freezing water - but it seems all good things must come to an end.

The aptly named “Tough Guy” race attracts some of the biggest names in world obstacle course racing every year to a farm in the village of Perton, in the English West Midlands.

But founder Billy Wilson told the Birmingham Mail that Sunday’s race would be the last of this incarnation, and that it was “time to reinvent it”.

All of which left the more than 5,500 participants from 42 countries determined to make the most of the occasion, which required them to sign a waiver wrily called “the death warrant”, absolving the organizers of responsibility for damage to life or limb.

Most, like Joe Hicks, costumed with crutches and bubble wrap marked ‘Fragile’, were just aiming to complete the course, even more treacherous this year thanks to heavy rain.

Others, like 27-year-old Jon Albon, from Essex near London, took it all rather more seriously.

Twice a world obstacle course champion and winner of “Tough Guy 2015”, Albon got out ahead of the mass of muddy runners struggling with hypothermia and exhaustion and charged to victory in one hour, 40 minutes and 47 seconds, almost three minutes ahead of his rivals.

“(It was) a little bit cold but I’m fine,” he said.

“A lot of running to begin with, a lot of water at the end, lots of obstacles, lots of swimming, lots of jumping and everything -- yeah, it was good.”

Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Kevin Liffey