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Six Real-Life Badasses That Make Chuck Norris Look Like Shirley Temple

By Matt Alesevich | 25. August 2014


It’s true. To complete Tough Mudder’s 10-12-mile military-style obstacle course, you need to be somewhat of a badass. There’s no hiding that.

With the exception of a few famous people who have run Tough Mudders, a vast majority of Tough Mudder badasses are just like you--moms and dads, teachers and students, accountants and zookeepers who train with rhinos. The same goes for some of the world’s most daring, inspiring and downright badass citizens.

So to honor the everyday, working-class badasses that have made the world a better, more inspiring place, we put together a list of some everyday badasses we’d be honored to have on our Tough Mudder course.

Ranulph Fiennes - Berkshire, England

In 2003, British adventurer and former counter-insurgency serviceman, Ranulph Fiennes, now 70, ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, hearing the start gun in Chile on October 26 and crossing the final finish in New York City on November 1. Adding to the badassery, he did it four months after surviving a heart attack and a double bypass. His reaction after finishing #7 in New York: “I wouldn’t do it again.”


Hideaki Akaiwa - Ishinomaki, Japan

When the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March of 2011, Hideaki Akaiwa knew the government would take time to respond. An avid surfer, the 43-year-old threw on a wetsuit and navigated floodwaters looking for his wife and mother. After rescuing both after four days of frantic searching, Akaiwa wrapped his legs in plastic and duct tape, filled four bags with ad hoc supplies and hit the water, serving as a one man search-and-rescue party for weeks to come.


Eddie Peoples - Sarasota, Florida, USA

On the afternoon of May 31, 2011, Army staff sergeant Eddie Peoples, home on leave from a tour in Iraq, stopped at the bank with his two young sons. While inside, an armed robber entered, pointed the gun at his sons and told patrons that if anyone moves “the kid will get it.” When the robber exited with cash, Peoples chased him. When the robber pointed the gun at Peoples’ face, he grabbed it, tackled the man and turned him over to authorities. Upon returning to the bank, Peoples’ son asked if he “got the bad guy” to which his “yes” was met with rousing applause.


Shavarsh Karapetyan - Kirovakan, Armenia

Having just completed a “routine” 12-mile, lakeside run in the fall of 1976, ten-time Soviet world champion finswimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan heard a loud crash and ran to it. Finding a 92-passenger trolleybus sinking to the bottom of a reservoir 80 feet offshore, Karapetyan swam to the bus, broke its back window with his legs and made back-and-forth trips to the bus to rescue passengers until he was no longer physically able. In all, Karapetyan saved 20 passengers. His heroics left him unconscious for 45 days and ended his sporting career.


Jim Campbell - Pueblo West, Colorado, USA

In September 2009, Jim Campbell, a former top ranked AMA motorcycle racer, crashed his bike going to pick up one last donor’s check after completing an alleged world record-breaking motorcycle ride to raise funds and awareness for muscular dystrophy. Bystanders and first responders assumed he was dead. Doctors called him a miracle survivor, but said he’d never walk again. Today, Jim holds the world record for most Tough Mudders completed. [Read the full, inspiring story of Jim Campbell.]


C. Dale Petersen - Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA

Long before becoming an escapist’s resort town, Jackson Hole was as rough and rugged as its inhabitants, one of which was C. Dale Petersen, an early hunting guide enshrined in Hole lore for killing a grizzly bear with his bare hands. Aggravated by a group of trekkers, the bear attacked Peterson, who shoved his right hand down the bear’s throat and used his teeth to bite the bear’s jugular vein. When the bear passed out, Petersen beat it to death. After examining the dead bear, game biologists corroborated Petersen’s story.

Truth be told, you don’t need to go around punching bears and biting their faces to be a certified badass. If you’re looking for a real-life way to flex your level of badassery, why not start by challenging yourself to a Tough Mudder obstacle course near you? We dare you.

Stay tuned to the Tough Mudder blog in the weeks to come as we review the Most Badass Women You've Never Heard Of and the Most Badass Teams You've Never Heard Of. To weigh in on either topic, submit your nominations to