Blind playwright ready for his first endurance test

Jamie MacDonald practises escrima stick fighting to get fit for Tough Mudder
Jamie MacDonald practises escrima stick fighting to get fit for Tough Mudder
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BLIND producer and writer Jamie MacDonald is one Tough Mudder.

Or at least, he will be when he completes the first-ever Scottish Tough Mudder event, taking place next month.

Up to 9000 people are expected to take part in the “endurance phenomenon” and “ultimate test of team work” coming to Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries on July 14.

The courses, which have proved hugely popular in the United States, were designed by Special Forces to test fitness, stamina, mental strength and camaraderie.

“I’m actually starting to worry I’ve underestimated the whole thing,” said Mr MacDonald. “It’s about 12 miles long and involves lots of uphill runs, semi-submerged tunnels and monkey bars. Apparently most people can do it in three to four hours.”

And when he says “most”, he means it – generally only about three-quarters of those who begin a Tough Mudder event actually cross the finish line. The courses are designed to be almost impossible to complete alone, and most participants register, compete and finish, in teams – in keeping with the Tough Mudder ethos that no man or woman is left behind.

Mr MacDonald, who has the genetic condition Retinitis Pigmentosa and lost his sight in his teens, will be running in tandem with a friend from his university days.

“My mate Steve called me at the start of the year and asked if I wanted to do it,” he said. “He’s much fitter than me and has been taking it all very seriously. I found out recently he’s been on a special diet for ages, so I thought I should probably start dieting too.

“I’ve been doing it for about a week, polishing off loads of bags of salad – I am not enjoying it.” However, the 
32-year-old, who ran the 10k in Edinburgh last year, admitted he has been making other preparations.

He said: “I decided to get fit when I quit smoking about three years ago. I do a lot of weight-lifting and some martial arts.”

The organisers of Tough Mudder say the event is not concerned with who comes first, and that simply completing the course is a badge of honour, something Mr 
MacDonald can relate to. He said: “I’m not that competitive. It’s not a race, and I’ll be happy just to get through it.”

He adds: “If big Steve starts getting competitive I’ll just have to grab him by his ankles, though he knows jujitsu, so I’ll have to be careful.”

And even if or when he finishes the course, there’s no time to relax. “My plan was to come back to Edinburgh and die,” he said, “but it turns out I’m actually doing some filming for the Fringe show I co-wrote and produced the next day.”

The show, called Lingua Frank, reportedly features a likeness of First Minister Alex Salmond with only a sporran to cover his modesty.

“We don’t have anything against him, it’s not a vicious thing,” Mr MacDonald said.