Redhill Strongman contestant transformed from couch potato to fitness fanatic
A COUCH potato who became a fitness fanatic is set to brave quicksand and fire in a bid to prove he is now one of Europe's toughest athletes.
University admissions officer Chris Mercer, 27, of Ridgeway Road, in Redhill, admits he was not averse to the odd curry and beer in his younger days.
But his life changed last year after he was accepted as one of the runners in the London Marathon.
Now trimmer and fitter than ever before, the Redhill runner has been selected as part of the 15-strong "Team GB" set to fly out to the Nürburgring in Germany to tackle a gruelling 11-mile course on Saturday.
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Contestants in the Fisherman's Friend Strongman Run face a gauntlet of daunting and downright dangerous challenges including quicksand, tyre mountains, freezing cold water, electric shocks and fiery obstacles – as well as two circuits of the infamous racetrack.
Mr Mercer told the Mirror: "I enjoyed my time as a student and continued the lifestyle. I liked the odd takeaway or two and a drink with friends.
"But my life changed last year when I applied for the London marathon – and I got in. I started exercising and eating properly.
"I'm not entirely sure what I'm letting myself in for. They don't tell you what you are going to face, but previous years have seen freezing water troughs in front of dangling wires connected to batteries.
"And as if it's not bad enough they have burning hay bales, mud, quicksand, six-metre high obstacles to climb over and you face electrocution – the course is 11 miles long.
"There isn't a lot of quicksand or burning tyres around Redhill so I'm doing a lot of running and core work.
"But a lot of this is mental preparation. I'm not sure how you get into the right frame of mind to face quicksand."
He said he was, at least, familiar with the course – but only from racing around it on a computer game on his Playstation 3.
He added: "I was surprised to be selected – I was approached after organisers read a blog about my running and marathon training. My friends who knew the old me think I am a bit mental.
"I have to agree."