The engineering lecturer was one of only three contestants to complete the full week of challenges


BBC Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week gave 29 fit individuals, with no military experience, a bitter taste of the training regimes faced by the world’s elite soldiers. The torment was unrelenting and the challenges gruelling as the contestants coped with meagre rations, sleep deprivation, constant uncertainty and some of the toughest physical and mental ordeals imaginable. Huw Jack Brassington, from Snowdonia, won eight of the individual trials.

Up until my early twenties rugby was everything I played scrum-half and still would be now if I hadn’t injured my knee. Fell running and triathlons then came to the rescue, scratching that itch and keeping me sane. I had success locally and internationally, competing for the British Age group triathlon team in Beijing and Auckland. I also love mountaineering – climbing Mt Blanc being one of my highest achievements – and am currently in the middle of my Winter Mountain Leader Award up in Scotland.

Our bodies are the most precious things we have and I’m determined to fully utilise mine in every way possible. When I’m 90 years old I want to be sitting in peace with a good book and a big glass of single malt, without being haunted by nagging questions and “what ifs?” I want to find out what I’m capable of and this (Ultimate Hell Week) was a rare opportunity to do just that.

My usual training regime includes between 10-15 hours of exercise a week, fitted in around my full-time job. This would include: cycling to work, jogging on my lunch break, swimming whenever I pass a pool and as many fell races/ triathlons as I can. The only thing I changed for Ultimate Hell Week was that I went back to the gym four to five times a week, for 20-25 minutes of a non-stop circuit of bodyweight orientated exercises, full of intensity concentrating on body form and power of movement.

The Australian SAS box carry was the toughest challenge. Between four of us we had to carry a 100kg box on top of our 20kg bergens, up a steep 1,000ft hill. Similar challenges continued for the next 36 hours with no food, two hours’ sleep and plenty of smoke grenades chucked in for good measure. I came closest to giving up right at the start. I’m a fat guy deep down; I love food and lots of it. We were two days in and the rations were small and way too healthy for my liking. There’s only so much lentil salad and chicken breast I can take! Eventually they heeded my complaints and gave me chips… so I stayed in the competition.

The Australian and British SAS were the toughest training regimes for me. I understand physical exercise: run-sweat-pain-ouchfinish- steak–pint-job done. But they wanted so much more. There was no steak, no pint, no rest; it was completely unrelenting. I came away with massive respect for the people who do this for real. As much as I appreciated the experience and am proud to come out the other end, I’m quite happy being a weekend warrior for now.

Ultimate week in hell

Look out for a future story on Jack as he travels the world completing adventure and OCR races.