Crazy, Fit and Covered in Mud

Published on: May 14th, 2012

You don’t need to have ever participated in the Tough Mudder to know that it’s one tough mother of a race. Actually, scratch that. The Tough Mudder specifies that it’s not a “race,” but a “challenge,” which makes sense when you consider that racers are concerned with finishing first, while Mudders have to worry about whether they’ll finish at all.

The self-described “toughest event on the planet” is a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by former members of the British Special Forces. It involves running, but that’s the least of your worries. Participants ford mud bogs, climb ropes, scale 12-foot walls, dash through open flames and, if that doesn’t yet spell “fun” for you, sprint through a web of live wires carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electricity. It sounds like something imagined by 8-year-old boys after watching an Indiana Jones movie. All it lacks is a leap over an open lava pit, but the organizers seem to be adding new challenges each year, so don’t rule it out for the future.

Although it may seem so, Tough Mudder isn’t entirely unique. It seems that ultra athletes (or masochists) are no longer content with run-of-the-mill marathons, triathlons and ironman competitions. With the growing popularity of similar events like the Devil Dash 5K in Lyons and the Warrior Dash at Copper Mountain, it seems that if it doesn’t feature mud, fire and an electric jolt, it’s not worth the entry fee.

But the Tough Mudder is the mother of them all, claiming to be three times as long as most other courses and conducted in “hostile environments,” often at high altitude. Held in Colorado this year at Beaver Creek on June 9-10, it’s a 10-mile course beginning at 8,100 feet and ending at 11,400 feet. In addition to the obstacles already mentioned, participants will crawl through narrow, partially submerged pipes, scramble up muddy cliffs, cross monkey bars greased with butter over an ice-cold plunge and, in the words of it’s own website, “jump in and out of an icy mixture of assorted carcinogens.”

Fun, right?

Participants are encouraged to compete as part of a team and, although registration is still open, approaching the Tough Mudder on a whim if you haven’t already been spending months training is not recommended. According to many of the Tough Mudder profiles found on its website, Mudders have been preparing for this torture for months, presumably by standing in a tub of cold water and catching live appliances tossed to them by their teammates.

Even if you’re not planning to participate this year (you wimp), it would be well worth the trip to Beaver Creek, if only to watch. Where else, after all, can you watch grown men and women flinging themselves over open pits of flame and into “icy mixtures of assorted carcinogens?” Or submit to something called the “Arctic Enema?”

If nothing else, it will get you jazzed up for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which, come to think of it, could benefit from a random jolt of electricity here and there. Maybe one day the Games will feature events like these. And as a nation, we can rally behind our heroes, hoping they can bring home the gold in the Arctic Enema event.

What: Tough Mudder

What it is: 10 miles of obstacles, including mud, fire, icy water, and other sundry surprises

When: June 9-10

Where: Beaver Creek

Cost: $90-$200, depending on when you register

Details: toughmudder.com

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