Mud is the least of one’s worries in any one of Tough Mudder’s 35 events across the globe. A British Special Forces agent designed these wildly challenging 10- to 12-mile obstacle courses as the antidote to the mindless pavement pounding of typical marathons. The result is an onslaught of spine-tingling challenges, such as swimming through ice baths, swinging through buttered monkey bars, running through a field of live wires, and scaling 12-foot walls.
But for every ounce of Tough Mudder’s bravado, there is an equal measure of humor. Many racers wear ridiculous costumes, finish-line prizes include free Tough Mudder tattoos and mullet haircuts, and one of the official race rules is, put simply, “no whining.” Organizers are also quick to establish that Tough Mudder is not, in fact, a race—participants are expected to help each other through obstacles. The result is an atmosphere of camaraderie that few other endurance events pull off.
This year, new races are popping up in highly vacation-worthy locales, such as Sydney, London, and Vancouver. But no matter where you go, the raging postrace party is the same, with live music, free beer, medals for the fastest finishers, and awards for best costume, mullet, and Mohawk.