For years Tough Mudder prided itself on being a challenge, not a race until it was a race. However, over the years as obstacle racing has matured so have the race organizations. This year with over $500,000 in prize purses and several competitive series Tough Mudder is here to compete.
For years, Spartan Race was the biggest player in the competitive obstacle racing market. Spartan Race and Warrior Dash were the original races in the industry. While many have forgotten, Warrior Dash was the first OCR company to offer age group prizes going back to 2010. They later abandoned this to focus on the fun and after party. Spartan Race from the beginning positioned itself as a race series. In the beginning, Tough Mudder was the outlier with no competitive offering. The one exception being the annual World's Toughest Mudder started in 2011.
Many competitors and fans of Tough Mudder asked for a competitive option for years. Conversations with Junyong Pak date back to 2011 about the topic. But for years Tough Mudder stood strong as the outlier. The event that wasn't a race, except for World's Toughest Mudder. The irony at the time Spartan Race was a race until it wasn't at the Death Race.
However, as the obstacle racing industry has continued to grow and adapt to have the major companies. Warrior Dash has long abandoned age group results, and only have one competitive heat an event. Spartan Race recently added age groups for 2018 and the Death Race is resting in peace in Vermont.
Like any industry going through puberty, Tough Mudder has had some major changes in the last year. In 2017, Tough Mudder started to get serious about being a competitive sport with the introduction of Toughest Mudder, Tough Mudder X, and Tougher Mudder. While the names can be confusing and a mouthful, what Tough Mudder did in 2017 was beginning to position itself deeper in the OCR universe. No longer just an event for the frat types, white-collar workers, or just someone who wanted to brag about getting muddy on the weekend. It got competitive.
This year the company is all in with the 2018 Pro-Team announced months earlier this year and adding two more racers to the team. As well committing over $500,000 in prizes for the competitive events – Tough Mudder X, Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder, and World's Toughest Mudder in 2018. Couple all of that with their continued partnership with Facebook and CBS Sports, this could be a breakout year for Tough Mudder in the competitive obstacle racing circuit.
We will have to see if the added prize money, more focus on competition, and greater exposure as a competitive event will draw more of the top athletes from in and out of the obstacle racing industry to their events. The question will be:
Do the top racers pick one series over another?
Will this dilute the competitive pool?
Or will we see the top in our sport competing in several competitive series?
The one thing is for sure, with so many competitive options at the local, national, and international level it is a great time to be a competitive obstacle racer.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Mud Run Guide LLC, or their staff. The comments posted on this Website are solely the opinions of the posters.