There’s been a lot of change going on in the Tough Mudder world recently. As a Tough Mudder Ambassador, I feel the need to write a post on some of these changes and how they affect the obstacle racing community. Back in 2015 when Tough Mudder introduced their Tough Mudder Half course, I wrote this article for MudRunFun called ‘Tough Mudder Half, What’s the Point?‘ I’m happy to say that my original assessment of this event has changed, and now I’m looking forward to experiencing one myself in the fall. However, I know from past experience that when an OCR makes dramatic changes, its not always well received by the obstacle racing community.
One of the things I heard most often when I asked the OCR community why they didn’t want to train for or run a Tough Mudder was that there was no option for competitive racers outside of World’s Toughest Mudder. Many of my friends in the obstacle racing community live for competition and challenge- and they felt that the regular Tough Mudder courses weren’t challenging enough or focused too much on teamwork and less on your personal time. While the Tough Mudder hallmarks are teamwork and putting that above course time, it seems they are now trying to appeal to a wider audience by introducing the Tougher Mudder, a timed first wave on the Tough Mudder courses. These timed waves will be eligible for prize money, have bands that require 100% obstacle completion (and you lose your band if you don’t complete all the obstacles) and special lanes in some of the obstacles solely for Tougher Mudder participants.
One of the main benefits I see to this event format is that it times the participants, which will appeal to the group of people who refused to do un-timed events. It also challenges participants more by requiring 100% obstacle completion. One of the things I worried about when it was first introduced is that Tougher Mudder would become more like Spartan- an every man for himself type of race that caused participants to be less concerned about helping others (a core Tough Mudder value) and more concerned about racing the clock. However, it explicitly states on the website and on Facebook group forums that the ‘race’ format will still encourage camaraderie and teamwork on course- helping fellow athletes just like participants do in World’s Toughest Mudder. Another source of concern for many was if they ran the Toughest wave, would it still count towards their legionnaire status? In a recent video released by Tough Mudder Headquarters, it was confirmed that, while there will be a separate participant headband and t-shirt for Tougher Mudder competitors, it will also count towards your legionnaire status and you will be able to pick up the corresponding colored headband for your lap on course.
Of all the recent changes coming to Tough Mudder, I was most excited to see the Toughest Mudder debut. Previously the only competitive option this series had was World’s Toughest Mudder- a 24 hour course that you completed as many times as possible. While the thought was mildly appealing to me, it was also kind of terrifying at the same time. I wasn’t sure I was ready to jump from running a regular Tough Mudder course during the day to running a 24 hour course in the desert of Las Vegas. It also happened to be on a weekend when it was nearly impossible to travel due to the demands of my job, so it seemed as if I’d never get a shot at World’s Toughest Mudder- unless they changed the dates.
However, with this new format developing under the Toughest Mudder category, not only do they offer multiple locations and dates throughout the year, but it is a much less intimidating thing to think about an 8 hour course as opposed to a 24 hour course format. While it would still be a truly challenging course and bring new challenges to the table that have previously not been seen on Tough Mudder courses, it’s one that I could definitely see myself signing up to do.
The format of this seems similar to World’s Toughest in that it’s an overnight race and you are expected to bring your own provisions and supplies to support yourself throughout the 8 hours of running. They also award participants who run the most laps prizes. And there are special obstacles on all Toughest Mudder courses that are only for participants of the Toughest Mudder, not for regular Tough Mudder runners. There is also a different headband for Toughest Mudder participants.
The Holy Grail
Finally they introduced a competitive series that offers participants a challenge to compete in all three of the Tough Mudder competitive series: Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder and World’s Toughest Mudder in a calendar year. If one can complete all three of these events, they will be eligible to receive the Holy Grail- yes an actual grail- to commemorate their achievement. This gives Tough Mudder participants a new goal to strive for, which can be appealing to a large group of people that may have potentially been untapped in the Tough Mudder market previously.
In accordance with the values of teamwork and camaraderie, Tough Mudder edited their normal Tough Mudder pledge for the new competitive series of events:
As a Tough Mudder, I pledge that
I understand this event is a race… but not an excuse to be a selfish jerk
I will uphold the Tough Mudder values of teamwork and camaraderie
I will help my fellow competitors complete the course
I will not whine… losers whine
I recognize that in life the race is long… and in the end, only really with myself.
I’m interested to see how this new series will be received in the obstacle racing community. I think Tough Mudder is tapping into a wider net of participants that they hadn’t previously reached, and I’m excited about the possibilities for this series on a national scale. I have always thought that Tough Mudder was a pretty challenging event and its no secret that its been one of my favorite event series since I started doing mud runs, but now I think this will appeal to people who previously had no desire to run a Tough Mudder event before. I also feel that this will elevate Tough Mudder in the eyes of people who, before, only viewed events like Spartan and the now defunct Battlefrog as events worthy of doing. In closing, all I have to say is this: Watch out Spartan! Tough Mudder is stepping up their competitive game and coming for you!
Prices increase on 3/30! For new Mudders, use my code BRAND257 to register for your first Tough Mudder or Tough Mudder half event and get a 30% discount! (Good on Tough Mudder and Tough Mudder half events only.)
Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for Tough Mudder. I am not compensated or sponsored by them to write blog posts. All opinions in this post are my own.