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

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PERTON, England, Jan 30 (Reuters) - It's been run annually since 1987, over, under and through 250 obstacles, along eight miles 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."

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Final Tough Guy Challenge in England
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Final Tough Guy Challenge in England

A competitor shouts as he takes part in the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, central England, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Flares are lit at the mass start during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors head off at the mass start during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor exits a tyre tunnel during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A competitor jumps into water during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor falls backwards into muddy waters during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor leaps through a fire obstacle during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor with painted face and flag ahead of the mass start during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors climb a cargo net as they take part in the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, central England, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Competitors wade through water during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors make their way along ropes during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

High fives during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors descend a high wooden frame obstacle during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor exits a tyre tunnel during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A competitor plunges into the mud during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Flares are lit during the mass start during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors make their way along ropes during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors wade through muddy water during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A competitor plunges into the mud during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A man with a painted torso lights a cigar before the start of the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, West Midlands, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

A competitor rearranges his tie during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors race away from the start during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Competitors makes their way down the start hill during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A competitor makes his way through a tyre tunnel during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Thumbs up despite muddy conditions during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Competitors exit a tyre tunnel during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor uses a flare during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

A competitor dive backwards into water during the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A competitor jumps a burning bale of hay as he takes part in the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, central England, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Competitors prepare to start the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, central England, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

A competitor goes into a muddy pool as he takes part in the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, central England, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Competitors take part in the 'Tough Guy' adventure race near Wolverhampton, central England, on January 29, 2017. The Tough Guy event, which is being held for the final time in its 30th year, challenges thousands of competitors to run a grueling course whilst negotiating over 200 obstacles including: water, fire, and tunnels.

(OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

TELFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29: Two competitors pose ahead of the Tough Guy Challenge at South Perton Farm on January 29, 2017 in Telford, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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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)

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