Tough Mudder has developed their own niche within the obstacle racing community. They stopped timing their normal events and abide by the concept of “it is not a race, it is a challenge.” While I personally prefer the race aspect, like they have a World’s Toughest Mudder, I do appreciate this different approach. Earlier this year Tough Mudder unveiled some of their new obstacles as part of Tough Mudder Redefined including “Cry Baby”. Cry baby is an obstacle where you are required to crawl through tear gas. This created a mild outcry in the obstacle course racing (OCR) community of claims of going too far.
I disagree though, this is adheres to Tough Mudder’s brand and makes them a truly unique type of event. Tough Mudder is built upon your fears and overcoming those fears. Take a look at some of their famous obstacles and their associated fears.
Electroshock therapy: Overcoming fear of pain by running through a field of live electric wires. (Algophobia- fear of pain, Electrophobia- fear of electricity)
Leap of Faith/The Cliff: Overcoming a fear of heights (Acrophobia- fear of heights)
Arctic Enema: Overcoming the fear of jumping into ice water (Cryophobia- Fear of extreme cold, ice or frost)
Birth Canal: Overcoming the fear of closed spaces. (Claustrophobia- fear of closed spaces)
Underwater Tunnels: Overcoming the fear of being submerged underwater (Hydrophobia- fear of water)
Stairway to Heaven: Overcoming the fear of climbing to great heights. (Climacophobia- Fear of stairs, climbing, or of falling downstairs)
With most of these obstacles, there was some initial outcry followed by people saying how much they loved it. So what is next? Tough Mudder seems to have hit on the major fears that scare people. Fire, heights, water and closed spaces. If you are agoraphobic (fear of crowds), just arriving to a Tough Mudder will challenge you. The crowds they draw are enormous and would put you way outside of your comfort zone. Since they have almost all the major fears covered, maybe they will move on to the last couple popular ones that are left.
Will we see a birth canal like obstacle but with snakes or spiders in the tarps over our heads? Challenging our arachnophobia or ophidiophobia. Maybe instead of volunteers dressed in Tough Mudder shirts at the top of Everest 2.0 they will start having people dress as clowns (Coulrophobia- fear of clowns). They have built a hugely, successful series without focusing on timed waves but overcoming fears and conquering challenges. Regardless of what fear they play on next, I look forward to more innovations from the Tough Mudder obstacle innovation laboratory.
If you work at TMHQ, let me help you out for the future of obstacle innovation. Just start at the top of this list and work your way down. http://phobialist.com/
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