Tough X Rough brings obstacle course racing to PH

MANILA, Philippines – With fitness and performance centers sprouting all over the archipelago, many Filipinos have turned into adrenaline junkies. 

Lifting rusty barbells and running on a monotonous treadmill have become a thing of the past for some gym-goers as they crave more challenging "Workout of the Day" programs in CrossFit boxes.

Others engage in high-intensity circuit training and plyometric workouts, while some fulfill their childhood illusions by enrolling in ninja academies or parkour assemblies.

To test how far Filipinos can go and satiate their hunger for challenge, broadcast network TV5 is coming up with a new competitive sport series billed as Tough X Rough.

Bannering the "We never quit, we never give up" adage, Tough X Rough features obstacle course racing (OCR), a sport that was first introduced in Staffordshire, England in 1987. It is patterned after military-type commando training. 

Tough X Rough contests strictly adhere to international OCR rules. Races vary in both distance and level, combining proficiencies for trail, road, and cross-country running. 

Participants also climb over walls, lift heavy objects, crawl under barbed wire, take on bodies of water, and jump through blazing hoops. 

Tough X Rough chief David Voth lauded the race's objective of promoting an entirely new echelon of competition.

"To me, it's more than a race. It's about experience, hard work, perseverance, teamwork, and the sense of community to reach the finish line," he said.

Before its inaugural race on February 21, Tough X Rough gave members of the media a glimpse of its obstacle course on Saturday, February 13, at Greenfield District in Mandaluyong City. 

There are different phases of the short obstacle course, such as climbing over assault walls and a cargo-net barrier, carrying a 20-kilogram sandbag while sprinting, and balancing on a two-inch thick, 100-meter long lumber. 

The highlight of the grueling steeplechase was a 15-foot wall. Most contestants had difficulties reaching the top.

Meanwhile, the Shock ‘N’ Awe portion gave competitors a sweet but stinging ending as they had to be jolted with 10,000 volts of electricity while dashing through a puddle of water before reaching the finish line. 

Derek Ramsay, a Filipino actor who played for the national ultimate frisbee squad and also serves as the head ambassador of the Philippine beach football team, said that OCR is a whole new sport because it is both physically and mentally taxing. 

"It is totally different. I don't know much about the sport, but when they introduced it to me, I was hooked. It's my first time to do anything like this. This is all new to me," Ramsay said.

Filipino representatives at OCR World Championships 

Tough X Rough is set to stage 8 race events in various parts of the country, which include 3 short courses, 4 long courses, 4 boot camps, and one National Championship round. 

The overall winner for male and female individual categories, as well as the team bracket, will earn spots at the OCR World Championships, which will take place at the Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario, Canada on October 15 and 16. 

GRUELING COMPETITION. A contestant crawls under barbed wire. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

GRUELING COMPETITION. A contestant crawls under barbed wire.

Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

Tough X Rough kicks off its opener race at Intramuros in Manila on Sunday, February 21, while the remaining qualifiers will be held at locations like Santa Rosa, Laguna and Subic, Zambales until August. 

"The main goal right now is to find the best male and female participants and an elite team that will represent the Philippines in October’s World Championships. It's the only world qualifiers in Asia. This country has many competitive individuals that are worthy to represent the Philippines and Asia," said Voth, who is also the man behind international sporting events like Challenge Family Triathlon, F1 Night Race, First Youth Olympic Games, IRB Rugby, Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, and Ironman Triathlons. 

Tough X Rough will be aired on TV5 in a 32-episode reality television series format starting March 27 with Ramsay hosting the show. 

"This is all about my personality. I love sports. I love living an active lifestyle. This really suits my personality and who I am. I am very excited about this," Ramsay said. – Rappler.com