Shortly before we moved to San Diego, a friend gave me a copy of Runner’s World with an article about this unique 10k held on a military installation. The challenge was to make it through a military-style obstacle course without losing your shoes or your shorts. It was called a Mud Run.
Now, of course, every major metropolitan area and many minor ones host their own mud runs, and they typically sell out quickly. In the past five years, those dirty 5ks and 10ks have evolved into events like the Warrior Dash and Spartan Race series and perhaps the most difficult to date, The Tough Mudder.
I admit I’d never heard of the Tough Mudder franchise until someone contacted me to see if I’d help promote it on this blog. Entry fees are on par with an expensive marathon, and something tells me by the time you finish the 10- to 12-mile course, you’ll feel like you’ve just finished a grueling 26-miler. The Finals in December in New Jersey sound particularly demanding.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about the evolution of competitive events for weekend warriors, and The Tough Mudder is a great example of enterprises meeting the demand for those seeking new challenges and bigger bragging rights. It also benefits a wonderful cause, The Wounded Warrior Project.
I’ve discussed numerous times about attitude shifts once a certain distance gains mass membership and/or loses its appeal. If you’ve focused a few years on marathons, an ultra is typically next on the to-do list. Once you’ve mastered the 50k, it’s on to the 50- and 100-milers. Similarly, people privately pass judgment on seasoned sprint or Olympic triathletes who’ve yet to do an Ironman – much the way marathoners are sized up by how often they’ve done Boston.
The Tough Mudder is tailor-made for this brand of ego-fueled athlete. It gives their weekday training a new focus and promotes exceptional cross-training since being able to run fast will only get them so far in this level of competition.
I just checked and the SoCal event being held over Memorial Day weekend is almost completely sold out for both days. No surprise when you consider this area is known for fitness fanatics and thrill seekers.
This area also remains home to the original Mud Run, which though still wildly popular now seems quaint by comparison. It no doubt will continue to be a feeder to more difficult and dangerous events, so The Tough Mudder need not worry about low attendance rates any time soon.