It began as a single event in 2003 and has grown into a five-race series, all held in the middle of the New Zealand winter and all featuring plenty of mud.
This year entries sold out so quickly in two Tough Guy and Gal Challenges planned for Rotorua that a third race had to be scheduled.
These off-road running events are for people who don’t mind getting dirty or exhausted over 6km or 12km– all for the reward of a survivor’s coffee mug.
The Auckland event, at Woodhill, had a course of water trails, barbed wire obstacles, swamp crossings, bush trail, equestrian obstacles, open paddock running, hill climbs and a sand crawl.
In Palmerston North, the challenge was at Linton Military Camp, providing a chance for civilians to experience some of New Zealand’s military facilities. The course included water trails, barbed wire obstacles, swamp crossings, steep bush rope grab, open paddock running, plus numerous parts of the NZ Army assault course.
Rotorua was the original home of the Tough Guy & Gal Challenge. The event was held at Lakes Ranch east of Rotorua, with a magnificent course of spectacular scenery for the ultimate experience, including water trails, net climb, barbed wire obstacles, swamp crossings, native bush trail, wobbly water bridge, open paddock running, hurdles and a wire rope bridge.
Alistair Brownlee has firmly stamped himself as the man to beat at the London 2012 Olympic Games, after capturing his second ITU World Championship title in stunning style on the 2008 Olympic triathlon course in Beijing.
After hitting T2 with a lead group of thirty, Brownlee turned in his trademark run in cold and wet conditions in Beijing to win the Grand Final, with Sven Riederer just edging out Jonathan Brownlee for silver. Alistair Brownlee stopped to high five spectators down the home straight, which is becoming his trademark and something he also did at the ITU race in Hyde Park earlier in the year.
But those results weren’t enough to shake up the overall 2011 ITU World Championship rankings as they stood before Beijing, with Alistair Brownlee claiming the overall world championship, Jonathan Brownlee the silver and Javier Gomez the bronze. Gomez finished sixth overall in Beijing.
Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins won her second ITU World Championship after finishing second to Andrea Hewitt in Beijing.
Heading into the Grand Final, Jenkins only needed to make the podium to clinch the 2011 ITU World Championship and her second place finish was enough to put her on top of the world, with a total of 4023 points this season.
The battle for bronze in both the Grand Final race and the overall series standings was far from settled though, as both were decided down the final finish straight away. In the race for the Grand Final podium, Switzerland’s Melanie Annaheim out sprinted Lisa Norden, Laura Bennett and Kate McIlroy to capture her first ever series medal.