At the beginning of a Tough Mudder event, all participants recite the following:
As a Tough Mudder I pledge that…
- I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
- I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
- I do not whine – kids whine.
- I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
- I overcome all fears.
Each Tough Mudder course consists of a seven to twelve mile mud/trail run over hilly, uneven and wet ground followed by seventeen to twenty sets of military-style obstacles designed by the British Special Forces. Each event is slightly different and caters to the varying features of local terrain. It’s one of the coolest, most well-known obstacle races out there right now.
It is estimated that 20% of participants do not finish the course, which is marketed as more of an event than a race—contestants are not timed.
Englishmen Will Dean first came up with the idea for Tough Mudder while studying at Harvard Business School. Prior to his American MBA, Dean chased terrorists in the Middle East and South Asia for the British Government. While living in Boston, Dean competed in both a marathon and triathlon, finding the races “pointless, boring, and antisocial.” His pitch for Tough Mudder was a finalist in the Harvard’s annual Business Plan Contest.
Dean brought on Guy Livingstone to act as Chief Operating Officer. Livingstone, a seasoned world traveler, trained as an attorney with Allen & Overy LLP and is now responsible for the company operations like event supervision and new venue expansion.
The first Tough Mudder event was held on 2 May 2010 at Bear Creek Ski Resort near Allentwon, PA. 4500 participants registered before the event sold out in thirty-five days. Subsequent events have been held throughout the United States in Northern California, New Jersey, New England, Texas and Vermont, to name a few.
At the end of 2011, the top 5% of all Tough Mudder participants will be invited to compete in the World’s Toughest Mudder—a fifty-mile event held on 17 & 18 December at Raceway Park, NJ.
In 2012, Tough Mudder events will take place not just in the United States, but in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Scotland and Japan. Compared to 2011, 2012 will see triple the amount of Tough Mudder events. How’s that for a rapid expansion?
Obstacles differ from event to event and are designed to test both physique and mental fortitude. The Texas Smokehouse has participants run through a wooden structure filled with smoke and mud. The Sweaty Yeti is a scramble through snow. The Killa Gorilla has participants run up and down a steep hill ten times. My favorite? Electroshock Therapy, where participants run through live, dangling electrical wires. One of the crazier obstacle races when it comes to actual obstacles.
Awards for Best Mullet, Best Costume and Most Respect are given out at the post-race party.
Proceeds from Tough Mudder go to The Wounded Warrior Project, which helps wounded servicemen and women. Many participants will pledge to raise money prior to the race.
Oh, and the prize for finishing a Tough Mudder course? A sweatband and a beer.
Better start training.
[images from chaf.haddad]