PERTON, UK - 30 years ago Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister; we had just legalized recording TV onto VHS; Footloose was released in cinemas and Prince Harry had just been born. Yet somewhere in this vintage-tinted social prism of this Great Britain, a man in Wolverhampton, had decided that the traditional 5k fun run…needed a bit of an edge!
Over the past 3 decades, hundreds of thousands of participants across the world have flocked to Wolverhampton to test their metal against conditions and challenges that have no place in modern life. These individuals have battled through sheets of January-sponsored ice, while navigating electric shocks, hypothermia and their own inner demons.
The story of Tough Guy is almost etheric, every time I hear it there’s a different emphasis to one of its many characteristics. In all honesty, I don’t think it’s a story that can be easily articulated because it’s narrative is always influenced by the story-teller making it almost impossible to identify any common threads. Like all great stories there are heroes and villains, larger than life characters and stunning plot twists. However, there is one thing that can be said about all stories, and that is, they all eventually come to an end.
So here we are in January 2017 delivering the final chapter to a story that’s not only given birth to a community, but has truly inspired the global rise of Obstacle Course Racing.
Over the weekend I had the absolute pleasure to have a one-on-one interview with the main man himself, the legendary...Mr Mouse!
With this being the final Tough Guy event, how do you see the future?
In April we’re doing the Mr Mouse Mud-a-thon they won’t do the Tough Guy course, but we’ll give them a really good time and keep entry fees low. We’ll be asking participants to fundraise for our charity partners and once they achieve that threshold we’ll refund them their entry fee. We’re not here to make money out of this but to redistribute funds to charities through positive physical activity and teamwork – this is the heart of community.
We all believe in charity, unfortunately some of the bigger charities have turned into massive businesses so half of the money that comes in goes to salaries and fighting other charities. I believe we can help the real/smaller charities all year long to get kids of the street, help with depression, PTSD and the disabled. They can use our facilities all year round to support them. Our responsibility as human beings is we’re here to reproduce and that means bringing children into the world so it’s our duty to leave the world in a better place than we found it and to bring peace to the world. We’re not politicians we’re fighting for life, a better life for everyone.
In July we’ll We’re looking to also build a super-human OCR course that NO ONE will complete. We’ll create a 15km ultimate course so they’ll need to learn new way of training. You’ll be able to run, build stamina, twist and contort your body in a way that suites the challenges ahead of you.
We’ll build the most difficult obstacle course in the world, where NOBODY, NOBODY can complete the obstacle course I build. We’ll need a super, super athlete who’ll need to learn a new way of training to learn to complete these new obstacles.
What I’m seeing is a brilliant, brilliant future! It’s all part of MYWORD Ltd Society.
Can you tell us more about MYWORD?
Mouse Youngers World ORunning Disciplines. MYWORD Ltd Society is the opportunity to bring everyone, ORunners, and Organisers together under one roof, one direction, one online registration platform.
This is a new not-for-profit organisation we’re creating that will help amplify the positive impact of OCR from the top-down - we’ll be working directly with event organisers throughout the world so they can use the trusted ToughGuy brand whilst receiving support, benefits and value from our experience and network.
By working this way runners will have a better experience and event organisers will gain more support and benefits through our programs. I’ve been developing this idea for years, and I’m incredibly passionate about it. The runners are the mass, and the people, it’s our job to do what’s right by them. They need to be treated correctly, and properly at all events. World of organisation of correct and proper obstacle runs. We’ve got something at our fingertips to make this work.
One thing I’ve been asked by event organisers is that ‘If this is Tough Guy’s last event why bother switching registration systems’?
We parted ways with our old tech provider because they were too greedy and their tech didn’t really work for us. I’ve been trying to tell them where the future should lie, but they wouldn’t listen. I tried to look into building our own system but then Pierre (njuko) came along and here we are back together and we’ve made it click and work. We wanted a technology partner that listens to us, works with us and most of all – understands us. This has given me the spirit to carry on. I can’t stop can I, I love it but I have to stand back a bit and use my talents elsewhere.
As this interview came to an end I could tell Mr Mouse was itching to get back to the event. As I thanked him for his time there was a brief pause, and in this moment hung the emotional prefix that was ubiquitous throughout the day - this was the last time he’ll go and greet the winners; the last time he’ll play host to thousands of winter masochists and the last time this playground of hell will wear the name Tough Guy.
I’ve spent the past 4 years attending endurance events up and down the country, so I’m pretty used to the hype, anticipation and community spirit that normally accompanies such occasions. However, this weekend’s vibe was intensified with the knowledge that this was the final bout - the atmosphere spoke for itself through nostalgic bear hugs and electric smiles.
Moving forward, Mr Mouse will be putting on fun charity and community events on at the farm where participants will be encouraged to fundraise, and once they do, their entry fee is refunded. This fundraising model is rare and highlights an authentic will to use his land as a platform to increase physical activity while raising funds for much needed charities and good causes. The Tough Guy spirit will definitely emerge at the planned World Championships in July, so that’s a date to get in the dairy if you’re up for the challenge.
The WORDS initiative is a very exciting proposition. By giving away the brand, and its inherited trust, event organizers will have the opportunity to benefit from the Tough Guy brand while enjoying multiple benefits such as chip-timing, an online entry system and merchandise. The value in working this way is that because MYWORD Ltd Society will act as an independent group, they’ll have more leverage with companies to negotiate better deals. When you add to that, the fact that it’s setup as a non-profit then it makes for a very exciting venture for the right partners. In a nutshell – it’s an exciting and unique partnership opportunity that’ll keep on giving.
Ever Smiling, Every Praying That Sport Brings Peace To This World. Before the end of February, Mr Mouse Peace Initiative will be stunningly announced.
For more information on upcoming events please check the Tough Guy website, and if you’re an event organizer who would like to learn more about MYWORD Ltd Society then please feel free to contact me in the comments section below.