“Dear athlete,

We're writing to give you a heads up on some big news from Tough Mudder regarding the upcoming 2019 season which will be going out tomorrow morning.

We've made the tough decision to remove prize money for Tough Mudder Race Series events in 2019. This includes Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder and World's Toughest Mudder events. This decision is the result of a conscious effort on the part of TMHQ to focus and reinvest in the core business, which is delivering world-class mass participation events. These events will still honor and celebrate top finishers in each category.

As a top OCR athlete, we wanted to let you know personally that this change is taking place so you can plan your races this year accordingly. We are aware that for many of you, this may mean we won't see you at our events this year. We hope, however, that this is not the case. We will still be hosting world-class competitive events meant to challenge people to find their personal best. We certainly appreciate your participation at our events in the past few years and hope we continue to see you out there.”

Tough Mudder sent the above e-mail to many of the “top OCR athletes” this afternoon. Past Tough Mudder X (TMX) participants received an additional e-mail regarding Tough Mudder's search for a new broadcast partner outside of CBS, with whom their contract ended in 2018.

“Dear athlete,

We're writing to give you an early update on our Tough Mudder 2019 Race Season, which will be going out tomorrow morning.

Tough Mudder X was created as a made-for-TV event in 2017 in partnership with CBS, a partnership which ended at the end of 2018. We are currently working to find a new partner and media plan to help us deliver a 2019 TMX Championship event, and we thank you for your patience as we continue to explore more opportunities.

As a past TMX contender, we feel obligated to deliver this message personally and extend our gratitude for your participation and support. As we work to find new partners and opportunities in this space, you will be the first to know when we have definitive news.

Until that time, let us know if you have any questions.”

**Update** Medals and Prizes

Tough Mudder followed up last night's news early this morning with additional information about 2019 races as they refocus their mission to server “everyday amateur athletes who are looking to test themselves and better their best.” Each participant will receive a medal, with special editions for those who make the podium. If you complete Tough Mudder, Toughest Mudder, and World's toughest mudder and qualify for additional swag.

RACE SERIES PRIZING

We’ve made the decision to remove prize money from our Race Series events in 2019. This is a highly intentional decision to allow us to re-focus on what we do best: collaborative, unconventional events with epic obstacles that make each and every participant feel like a champion.
At Tough Mudder, we believe true accomplishment isn’t about the dollars in your pocket. It’s about challenging yourself, bettering your best and conquering the toughest, most unique events on the planet. Sound like your cup of tea? Then join us in the mud and let’s make 2019 a season to remember.

MEDALS

You asked, and we listened. Each and every Race Series participant will receive a badass new medal when they cross the finish line. First, second and third place winners will receive exclusive gold, silver and bronze editions, plus free passes to future events, epic swag, and unlimited podium glory.

HOLY GRAIL PRIZING

It’s the ultimate test to push yourself to be the best you can be. Conquer Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder, and World’s Toughest Mudder, all in a single season, and earn a one-of-a-kind Holy Grail race bib and an official TMHQ Holy Grail. Complete the most miles in a single season and win the grand prize: a Holy Grail champion jacket and patch, an All-Access pass to 2020 events, epic swag, and the ultimate prize: Mudder Glory.

What Does That Mean for Tough Mudder – and You?

What Happened?

Many in the industry knew that 2017 and 2018 were difficult years for Tough Mudder. In an attempt to attract newcomers while continuing to please everyone in the sport, TM expanded distance options, created new series, and sponsored their own championship. Some heralded this move as brilliant, while others saw this as a desperate move to increase their market cap and sales value. It was no secret to many of us plugged into the sport of OCR that Tough Mudder had term sheets distributed to be acquired and was actively looking for investment from multiple different sources. One of the other top 3 OCR companies reportedly had some very serious M&A conversations that weren't too far off from being completed. When that company passed, another investment was secured, allowing Tough Mudder to continue its 2019 streamlined schedule of TM Classic and TM 5k.

Editor's Note: We reached out to multiple sources at Tough Mudder and other top OCR companies who could corroborate the above details off the record. Additional details about purchase prices/offers and investment amounts have been withheld as we have not seen the actual term sheets.

What Does This Mean to You?

If you're not one of the top athletes, probably not too much. Tough Mudder Half has already gone away, and the OCR public is left with Tough Mudder “Classic” and TM5k, both of which are absolutely great events with big-ass obstacles and plenty of muddy, intimidating, and difficult challenges for everyone. Do you really care if TMHQ has new investors? I highly doubt it. The upside may be more venues (bring back AZ!) and possibly more innovation.

Is This The End of Tough Mudder?

I highly doubt it – if anything, this is what maturation looks like in an extreme sport. Obstacle Course Racing is sliding into its first decade of existence, and while participation is still at very healthy numbers (around 2.5 million in North America and close to 4 million worldwide), the influx of new athletes has been somewhat flat – meaning for every new athlete that picks up the sport, one departs OCR's ranks. The heyday of 2014-2015 where nearly every event was packed each weekend have passed, and growth has slowed for the biggest OCR companies. Smaller operations like Rugged Maniac and Savage Race are coming off of very successful seasons of growth in participation and point to optimism for the longevity of the sport. OCR World Championships has continued to grow in participation numbers despite a change of venue while also adding another event in North America.

My Take

Don't sweat it. Tough Mudder is not in a nose dive, they just dumped some extra cargo and added a little more fuel.

Original messages: