Tough Mudder

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Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder SoCal 2013 Walk the Plank.jpg
A participant completes the Walk the Plank obstacle at the SoCal 2013 Tough Mudder event.
TypeEndurance race
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Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder SoCal 2013 Walk the Plank.jpg
A participant completes the Walk the Plank obstacle at the SoCal 2013 Tough Mudder event.
TypeEndurance race

Tough Mudder is an endurance event series in which participants attempt 10–12-mile-long (16–19 km) military-style obstacle courses. Designed by British Special Forces to test mental as well as physical strength, obstacles often play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights.[1] The organizers encourage teamwork, and many obstacles are designed to be very difficult to complete alone.[2] The events are untimed,[3] and an average 78% of entrants successfully complete the course.[4]

The first Tough Mudder challenge was held in the United States in 2010.[5] To date, more than 1.3 million people worldwide have participated in Tough Mudder events.[6]


Tough Mudder was co-founded in 2010 by Will Dean and Guy Livingstone, both British citizens living in New York. Dean had developed the idea for the company while studying at Harvard Business School, where the concept was a semifinalist in the school’s annual business plan competition.[7] It has been widely noted that Will Dean took the idea from Billy Wilson and his Tough Guy races.[8] Dean and Livingstone held the first Tough Mudder event on May 2, 2010 at Bear Creek Ski Resort near Allentown, PA. Promoted exclusively through Facebook advertising and word of mouth, the event drew more than 4,500 participants.[7]

Two additional 2010 events were held in Northern California and New Jersey. The next year, 14 events were held throughout the United States.[4] In 2012, 35 events were held in a four countries.[9] Tough Mudder, as a company, is worth $70 million.[10]

On May 2, 2013, Tough Mudder announced that it had reached one million total registrations since it started in 2010.[11] The company had more than 700,000 participants in 2013, with events in the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany.[6] In 2014, beyond the NorCal 2014 (April 13/14, 2014), the company will also be expanding to Ireland and New Zealand,[12][6] with an 18–20-kilometre (11–12 mi) military obstacle course in Auckland, NZ.[13]


Arctic Enema
Arctic Enema
Electroshock Therapy
Electroshock Therapy
Funky Monkey
Funky Monkey

The typical Tough Mudder course is 10–12 miles (16–19 km) long and features 20–25 obstacles. Terrain type varies from course to course; natural features of the land at each venue are incorporated into the course design.[14] Past venues have included ranches, motocross tracks, and ski resorts.[15]

The list of obstacles also varies from course to course, though there are several “signature” obstacles at almost every event,[16] including:

Not as signature obstacles:[20]

In 2012, Tough Mudder founded an off-site “Obstacle Innovation Lab” in New Jersey, where the company designs and tests new obstacles.[21]

World’s Toughest Mudder[edit]

Junyong Pak
Junyong Pak
Amelia Boone
Amelia Boone
The first and second place finishers of World’s Toughest Mudder 2012

World's Toughest Mudder is an invitation-only 24-hour challenge. Unlike other Tough Mudder events, World's Toughest Mudder is a competition, with the top-ranking man, woman, and team receiving prize money.

To qualify for World's Toughest Mudder, participants must finish a standard Tough Mudder event in the top 5% of self-reported times. The competition itself consists of a 10-mile (16 km) looped course, which participants continuously run through for 24 hours. The participant who completes the most laps is declared the winner. The winners receive the title of "World's Toughest Mudder" and a $15,000 prize.[22]

World's Toughest Mudder was first held in 2011 at Raceway Park in New Jersey. Junyong Pak claimed first place, and Juliana Sproles was the first female finisher. In 2012, Pak successfully defended his title. Amelia Boone was the first female finisher and the second finisher overall. The team competition was introduced for the first time in 2012; a team from Pennsylvania calling themselves “Nine Inch Males” took first place. There were over 1,200 competitors in 2012.[23]


At the April 20, 2013, Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic event in Gerrardstown, West Virginia, a 28-year-old participant, Avishek Sengupta, died following an incident on the "Walk the Plank" obstacle.[24][25] The local police department ruled the death an accident.[26] This was the first fatality in Tough Mudder’s history.[26][27]

Charity affiliations[edit]

Tough Mudder supports a charity in each territory it holds events (usually military-affiliated), and encourages participants to raise money to aid veterans. Current charities supported include Wounded Warrior Project (in the United States), Wounded Warriors Canada, Help for Heroes (in the United Kingdom), and Legacy (in Australia). As of February 2014, Tough Mudder reports that participants have donated more than $6.5 million for the US Wounded Warrior Project.[28]


Tough Mudder has partnerships with many notable companies; US partners include Under Armour, Degree, Bic, Wheaties, Dos Equis, Advil, Clif Bar, and CamelBak. Additional international partners include Samsung (in Canada); Strongbow (in the UK); USN (in the UK and Australia); and Solo, Holden, and Victoria Bitter (in Australia).[29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brian Kilmeade Gets Dirty in the Tough Mudder Challenge on ‘Fox and Friends’ Set". FOX News. 18 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Tough Mudder Advice from Britain's Toughest as big event draws near". Daily Mail. 30 April 2012. "As Sportsmail prepares to enter the toughest team sport around, Britain's best Mudder offers his advice" 
  3. ^ "Racing dirty". Los Angeles Times. March 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Turning a profit on the "toughest event on the planet"". CNN Money. April 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Tough Mudder: ‘The Toughest Race on the Planet’". ABC Nightline. 
  6. ^ a b c "In Cold Mud". The New Yorker. January 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Playing with Fire, Barbed Wire and Beer". The New York Times. April 29, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Playing Dirty". 
  9. ^ "Forging a Bond in Mud and Guts". The New York Times. December 9, 2012. 
  10. ^ Ganser, Adam (2013-02-20). "Running the Tough Mudder: A 12-Mile Long Torture Chamber". Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  11. ^ Max Rivlin-Nadler (2013-04-29). "DUMBO Gets An "Arctic Enema" Tomorrow". Gothamist. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  12. ^ "Tough Mudder Norcal 2014". March 7, 2014. 
  13. ^ "2014 Auckland | Tough Mudder". March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Getting tough in the Black Diamond mud with Tough Mudder this weekend". Maple Valley Reporter. 
  15. ^ "Tough Mudder: Mud, Sweat & No Tears". Men’s Journal. 
  16. ^ "One Tough Mudder". Vermont Sports. 
  17. ^ "Tough Mudder’s 20 Most Badass Obstacles: Arctic Enema". Men’s Fitness. 
  18. ^ "Tough Mudder’s 20 Most Badass Obstacles: Electroshock Therapy". Men’s Fitness. 
  19. ^ "Tough Mudder’s 20 Most Badass Obstacles: Funky Monkey". Men’s Fitness. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Obstacles Test Athletes’ Grit". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ Patty Hodapp (2012-11-14). "World's Toughest Mudder Adventure Race 2012 - Men's Fitness". Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  23. ^ "The toughest obstacle course on earth: 24 hours of hell in New Jersey, US". Financial Times. 
  24. ^ "Mid-Atlantic 2013 incident statement" (PDF). April 2013. 
  25. ^ Jenni Vincent and Rachel Molenda (2013-04-22). "One dies after participating at Tough Mudder". Martinsburg: The Journal. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  26. ^ a b "Towson University graduate dies in W.Va. 'Tough Mudder' endurance event". 2013-04-22. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  27. ^ "W.Va. investigating death of Md. man". Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  28. ^ "Q & A with Carol Kruse, New Global CMO of Tough Mudder". Ad Age. 
  29. ^ "What Is ‘Mudvertising’ and Why Are Marketers Diving In?". Adweek. 
  30. ^ "Tough Mudder Announces Key Partnership Agreements For 2013". June 2013. 

External links[edit]