HURDLING flaming haybales, crawling through barbed wire and swimming through inch-thick ice could not put off the Tough Guys of Huntingdon s BRJ Club. The club sent 14 members to Staffordshire on Sunday to take on Tough Guy 2010, branded the world s most

HEADS DOWN: The Tough Guy pushes competitors to the limits of endurance.

HURDLING flaming haybales, crawling through barbed wire and swimming through inch-thick ice could not put off the Tough Guys of Huntingdon's BRJ Club.

The club sent 14 members to Staffordshire on Sunday to take on Tough Guy 2010, branded the world's most demanding one-day survival ordeal.

The event combines the explosive elements of an assault course with the endurance test of a cross-country run, subjecting competitors to obstacles including the Stalag Escape and the Killing Fields over the course's eight gruelling miles.

Triathlete Michael Wenn, 26, the first of the BRJ individuals to cross the finish line, said it was the biggest challenge he had ever faced.

He said: "It's just total punishment for the body - I was nearly completely numb after the first obstacle, and I didn't get feeling back in my legs and feet until after the race.

"They say the aim of the race is get as close to danger as possible without dying, and it felt like I got pretty close to that."

All 14 of the BRJ competitors made it to end of the course - an impressive statistic considering only around a third of the 5,000 Tough Guy entrants complete the ordeal.

The other athletes, competing in teams for the BRJ were John Wright, Keith Douglas, Lucy Moore, Ryan Woolf, Steve Dockerill, Kristine Cornelius, Rachel Real, Dan Avondoglio, Brendan Vaughan, Nigel Maggs, Steve Burton, Sue Yendley, Paul Salmon.

Wenn said: "There's no time for banter during the race - you are too focused on the next obstacle.

"I saw people stopping in front of obstacles and bursting into tears. People try to help out, but it's difficult enough to get yourself round."

Wenn said that despite the huge physical challenges of the course, it was the mental endurance that presented the greater problems.

He said: "Telling yourself that you have to keep going is the biggest challenge, because it becomes an emotional ordeal.

"The water tunnels were the hardest - plunging yourself through the ice into the water, time after time.

"After the first tunnel the cold hits you fully, by the second you are struggling to breathe, by the third you have no idea where you are and you would cry if you could, and by the fourth it is just an emotional battle."

As a triathlete, Wenn trains regularly in open water, but adapted his schedule to include river swims, water crossings and lengthy cross-country training, which was all made worthwhile when he crossed the finish line.

He said: "The feeling of going over the line was just pure exhilaration. It was only when I finished that the aches came, and I discovered cuts and bruises all over my legs. I think at that point most people are still in shock."

Wenn said the achievement of completing Tough Guy was an addictive feeling.

"I swore to myself that I would never do anything like that ever again," he said, "but if I'm honest, I'm already thinking about next year!