The Toughest Final, held in Gothenburg, is the last race in Toughest’s Mini Tour. Although to win Toughest events is an honour, this is the one that really counts. The final is a chasing start, with your best 4 events during the tour deciding your starting position, winner take all.
I had 4 wins out of the 4 events I had taken part in, this means I would start first. Krister Sellman was starting in second with the most consistent performances of my competition, with a bunch of second places but no overall win, he was starting 30 seconds back. Just 5 seconds behind him would be Linus Hultegård, Linus only really got into Toughest this year but has made quite a splash. There are often quick runners that try their hand at obstacle racing but often struggle to get up to speed in between obstacles, Linus doesn’t seem to find this and has mastered many of the obstacles and their fast lanes too!
Behind Linus there would be an entire throng of great athletes all starting practically on top of each other. These guys would have to fight their way through the start of the course whereas I would have a clear run but at least they would have each other to pace from.
As I started I had no idea as to how fast I was running. I knew to stay out of sight was key but I didn’t want to go out too hard on the flat start of the course which would leave me hollow for the hillier middle and final sections.
Having missed the past two Toughest races, I was also a little worried about some of the obstacles. There was one in particular I was unsure about and it was featured as we entered the event arena for the first time. It was the swing walk, I could of course take the easy lane but knew Krister behind me would be taking the harder option, which would save him time. Toughest have introduced smaller nunchucks that only have enough room for one hand and installed caps on them to make using the top/the chain impossible. As I hadn’t seen these before it was a bit of a risk but I knew to complete the harder lane would set me up well for the rest of the race, with a solid lead to defend.
I swung out onto the first nunchuck and managed to get my hands wrong, my momentum lost I was left hanging like a drying fish. Reshuffling my hands to get them right I managed to muster some swing and move my way through jumping of the other side. It hadn’t been smooth but I had done it.
From here the majority of the technical obstacles would start, all featured between kilometres 2 and 6. Smoothly checking them of I completed the dragons back, flying monkey, traverse walls and pegboard.
With some smaller obstacles and some great trail running done I was back in the event arena for the second time for an especially long jeep dunk carry which led straight into the platinum rig which had a surprise. The fast lane of the rig had been kept secret and no one was allowed to try it before the race. Having a quick look, I decided it was probably too hard to risk attempting and therefore took the easy lane and following crawl.
I now had a solid lead but was unaware of the carnage unfolding behind me. David Nordstrom and Ludvig Werkmaster had both failed the fast lane of the swing walk resulting in a massive penalty loop. Conor Hancock had blasted the first half to make it into second but in some confusion had missed the crawl after the rig resulting in disqualification. Linus was running like never seen before resulting in Krister having to take the hard lane of the rig and making it! So they were now locked in a dual for second and third.
They were still all over a minute back though and moving into the third loop, which included a big hill rep, I was due to grow my lead further.
Choosing the easy lane (rope climb) over the hard lane (salmon ladder) I had to do another crawl but soon got through this and onto the fourth and final loop.
Starting to relax now my thoughts turned to the ramp which was apparently a little bigger than usual. Completing spinning wheels, I slowed down a little to catch my breath but was soon turning the corner back into the event centre where the ramp and finish line was waiting. An extra kick of adrenaline and I was soon on top and smiling at the knowledge that I had won my second Toughest Mini Tour Title and remained unbeaten in any Toughest race I have done.
Celebrations were short lived and thoughts now turn to the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships in Canada. In a twist they have introduced a second distance race of 3km the day before the classic course of 15km on Saturday. Should I jeopardise being competitive in the 15km by competing in the 3km too? Or simply aim for the course that in my eyes represents what obstacle racing is best and where it has come from? Check back to find out!
Awesome photos as always taken by Jacques Holst – www.jacquesholst.com,