There are hundreds of events that claim to be 'tough' or based on 'survival' but which will really push you to your limits and challenge both your physical and medical stamina? Here are our pick of the best, the hardest and the one's that'll leave you with the biggest grin of satisfaction. Words: Megan Harris.
Spartan Race UK
In three words: Playground, for, adults.
Mud. Endless mud. Running against it, swimming against it, dragging yourself through it. Think water aerobics but 100x harder.
Each muscle in your body will be put to use somewhere around this Spartan Race course and you will discover that gravity is both your best friend and your worse enemy. With three distances to choose from; the Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super and Spartan Beast there is something to aim for regardless of your ability and this Gladiators-esque course is definitely one to tick off the bucket-list!
Our advice: Wear tight, minimal clothing and ankle supports.
In three words: Military, winter, ball-breaker.
The idea of a duathlon can often be mistaken as the 'easy' version of a triathlon. Not this one. Held on military training grounds and in the harshest of weather, MudMan duathlon, one of three in the Human Race's Off-Road Series (alongside WildMan and IceMan) and in aid of Scotty's Little Soldiers, is brutal. Endless hills, coordinating muddy bogs and clambering over fallen trees, this is the wholly organic, original obstacle course. Not one to be underestimated.
Our advice: Come mentally and physically prepared.
Rat Race Dirty Weekend
In three words: Comradery, exhausting, messy.
Sounding like a mix between an obstacle course and a trip to Magaluf, the Rat Race Dirty Weekend really is one of a kind. 20 miles, 200 obstacles and 20 themed zones followed by one hell of a party afterwards.
This is particularly fun to do as a team, get a group of people together around the same fitness level as you as tackle it as you would any sport match (also it's far easily to get across their almost-impossible course when your friends can drag you over/under/through the tricky bits!)
Our advice: Bring spare clothes and a bottle of something to share.
Brutal Bear Cold Swims
In three words: So, so, cold.
The fact that you have to do provide proof of previous completed races for their longer distance proves just how tough these Brutal Bear events are. Spread across the first three months of the year at Bournemouth's Boscombe Beach, plunging into the freezing (and we mean freezing) water of the English Channel, is a challenge in itself.
Our recommendation for these swims is to start off small. Unless you are a seasoned open-water swimmer, don't dive into the 240m or longer races, the way the water affects your body should not be underestimated. Experience here is key for safety and we suggest dragging a friend along to have a piping hot brew and towel waiting for you when you get out!
Our advice: Brace yourself.
Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race
In three words: Elements, capsizing, satisfying.
Canoeing sounds fun right? Remember that residential school trip you went on where you first experience canoeing and how fun, jolly and splashy it all was? Not this time!
We all know the ergo can break even the best of us. Imagine 125 miles of shoulder-destroying work in a canoe to make it from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster. With canals and the Thames to face along the way, training will be key for this race. Without adequate shoulder strength, it would be easy to crumble after the first couple of days.
Our advice: train hard, race hard.