Last Ever Tough Guy?

Hi, I’m Ed. Some of you might recognise me from Tough Guy; I take the warm-up, hammer on stuff, and leap out at unsuspecting folk. I bellow constantly and drink a lot of rum.

In short, I’m hard to miss.

hi-i-am-ed

I don’t work for Tough Guy, I’m a volunteer. If I wasn’t smashing and bellowing at Tough Guy, I’d only be smashing and bellowing elsewhere. Thus, the Guild.

Nevertheless, I am close enough to the event and the people involved to shed some light on the controversial announcement that January might not be the last ever Tough Guy.

The Reality

When Tough Guy announced that January 2017 would be their last event, they meant it. It wasn’t a marketing campaign, it wasn’t a shady trick to boost entries, and it certainly wasn’t a lie.

That’s not just my opinion, it’s a fact. I was there (at the farm) over the weekend when they decided to call it quits. I have also seen – and felt – the impact of the last five years from the inside. Although I wasn’t in their family meeting, they told me personally that they had made the decision to stop – and few people were hurt deeper than I.

So it wasn’t a lie or a con. It was an authentic and difficult decision made by people whose entire lives have been Tough Guy.

The Initial Announcement

On the 13th of August, Tough Guy announced their final event to the world. Immediately, everybody associated was BOMBARDED with messages: “Why is it ending?”, “What can we do to keep Tough Guy alive?”, “How dare you stop!”, “Don’t give up!”, “We need you!”

We expected that reaction, but it was still overwhelming. There isn’t a marketing department to deal with it. There isn’t a customer services team to handle the feedback. There isn’t a board of directors to discuss the “direction of the brand”. This is all being dealt with by a small family who – for reasons I fully understand and support – told the world that they wanted out, and were hit by a tsunami of NO, PLEASE DON’T GO!

I say that because I want you to appreciate the impact this can have on people. Imagine it was your family, your home, and your livelihood for the last 30 years: think about how difficult the decision to quit was – and consider what it like to get such a fierce reaction.

The Recent Announcement

On the 11th of November, Mr. Mouse responded to three months of relentless demands for Tough Guy to carry on. In complex Mouse Speak that very few people understood, he announced that IF somebody managed to complete his newly designed course properly, Tough Guy would continue for another year.

If you know your OCR history, you will recognise this as a very well established joke: Mr. Mouse claims nobody has EVER finished the course “properly” (apart from maybe Jon Albon, but he’s not human and therefore doesn’t count).

In other words, Mr. Mouse issued a challenge that nobody can meet. Nobody will complete the course “properly” and Tough Guy will retire undefeated from the world of OCR.

OR…somebody will miraculously complete the course as it was intended to be done and – by sheer popular demand – Tough Guy might come back for another year.

Now, I agree with everything you are currently shouting at your screen:

  • It was advertised as the last one, so it should be the last one. Simple.
  • You’ve bought a ticket based on the understanding that it would be the last one, so you’ll be pissed off if it isn’t.
  • You’re flying across the world at great expense to be there, so it better bloody well be the last one.
  • You’ve talked all your mates into it, because you thought it would be their last opportunity to experience it.
  • You sold your beloved guitar/Xbox/cat/mother to afford the ticket, because you thought you’d never get another chance.
  • This is typical of the misinformation surrounding the event and you’re sick of it.

I agree. Absolutely and whole-heartedly, I agree with you. Believe me, if I could personally reimburse everybody who feels cheated and misled by this situation (I feel your pain) and re-distribute your tickets to the people who can’t afford to be at this event (I feel your pain as well), I would do it in a heartbeat.

I want to reiterate: I don’t work for Tough Guy. If I’m there, I’m there on my own time and money because I love it; I love all of you and I want to make our event as awesome as it possibly can be.

So I’m not asking you to ignore this announcement. I’m not asking you not to feel outraged, misled, cheated, disgusted, or any of the other things you so rightly feel. I would feel exactly the same if I didn’t have insight into the enormous degrees of complexity and emotion involved in this situation.

What I am asking is for everybody to calm down a bit, and try to show a little compassion. After 30 years, this family has announced their heart-breaking and deeply difficult (yet authentic) decision to leave the sport they created – and now they’re having to react to the overwhelming response from the OCR community who don’t want them to go.

So far, their reaction has been to say there is a very, very, very slim chance that they might do another event. That’s all. So instead of flinging mudder and juggling accusations, why don’t we stick to what we know?

  1. It will be the 30th anniversary of the birth of OCR. It’s bigger than Xmas, so let’s make it a good one.
  2. It will be – partly depending on the weather – the very toughest and most renowned Tough Guy to date. I’ve done the new obstacles and they ain’t pleasant…
  3. In all likelihood, IT WILL ACTUALLY BE THE LAST EVER TOUGH GUY! We’ll all feel very silly if we all pout our way around the course only to realise we’ll never get another chance.

The Future of Tough Guy

In the very unlikely event that January isn’t the last ever Tough Guy, it will be because for every person who (understandably) thinks the original obstacle run should come to an end because they said it would, there are many more who would prefer that it carries on regardless.

Either way, I won’t let speculation about the future spoil the first big anniversary this sport has ever seen. It’s also my 30th birthday (spooky…), so I’ll be handing out mulled mead to anyone and everyone who will share a drink with me. I’m going to party hard, no matter what – because that’s what Guildsmen do.

It’s going to be historic, my friends, and I honesty cannot wait to share every miserable and long-suffering moment of it with you.

Your friendly neighbourhood Ghost (aka. YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE FROM BEYOND THE MUD),

Rumwalker

Eddard X Gamester of the Mighty and Fabled Guild of Adventurers
Written by the irritating lack of light of the New Moon, November 2016.

An After Thought

Some people are complaining about signing up for an event that they “probably won’t finish”. To those people, I say I think you’ve missed the point of Tough Guy. It’s a test. None of us really know whether we’re going to finish: that’s what we’re there to find out.

If you do find it all gets a bit too much, I’ll be there to help you out…when you need it most and expect it least…

See you on the Killing Fields!

In the meantime you can find me on Facebook and follow me on Instagram. Or you can follow Ghost Squad if you dare…

Ed Gamester at Tough Guy 2015 Ghost Squad, Photography by My Bib Number

Photo by My Bib Number

About the Author
Ed Gamester is a silly man who lives in the United Kingdom. He is the harbinger of Ghost Squad, singer of Gay Bum and author of A Rum Run Awry. He fights, kills and dies for TV and films, and gallivants around the place wrestling, drinking and lifting things for glory and profit. Where Ed treads, there stamp the boots of the Guild. Ed does not wear glasses, but feels this photograph makes him look more intelligent and artistically talented than he is. Feel free to contact him: he is disappointingly affable.

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  1. Astrid Reply

    It is a shame, but also can understand the work and involvement it takes to put on such large scale events.

    My partner has taken part in 2 of the winter ones, and we were lucky enough to meet you all when camping out on the farm last summer. Our plan was to introduce our son (now 10) to tough guy once he is old enough. Same that is not going to happen, but I will always remember his proud face climbing up The Tiger that summer and doing most of the course. He loved it, especially the muddy and wet parts.

    Thanks ever so much to all of you at Tough Guy HQ and Mr Mouse for some got (albeit cold and muddy) memories.

    • Ed Reply

      I remember it! We were BBQing and generally revelling. It’s much easier to party in the warm summer evenings, eh? I’m sure that there will be something equivalently epic for your son to conquer by the time he is old enough – this sport is only going to get bigger 🙂

  2. Steve Reply

    Well written, and the family’s situation is totally understandable.
    Although I’ve known about, and fancied doing TG for the past 4 years, admittedly I jumped at the chance to give it a go on the 30th anniversary. There’s no doubt that it was because I thought it was going to be the last ever one.
    But if that’s the motivation I needed (and they do still end up doing another in the future), I don’t feel at all cheated. I just hope I can make it to the finish line!
    I’ll gladly join you for a birthday toast too, if I can find you…

    • Ed Reply

      I’m easy to find, but difficult to pin down! Hope to see you there – it’ll be a great weekend!

  3. Brendan Byrne Reply

    Hope you have a spare cup of mead👍 I’m 51 the day before Tough guy!! Looking foreword to it👍

    • Ed Reply

      All the more reason to celebrate – seeya there!

  4. Freddy Reply

    The last ever TG, so what ?! After 30 years, doesn’t the Mouse family derserve its rest ?
    Thank you Mr Mouse, … you bestowed on mankind a most precious gift, to bring OCR to life !
    You tell him Ed, he’s a holly man, what’s the pope waiting to make him a saint !?

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