Feb 22, 2010

Tough Mudder update, and I compare it to two others

READ THIS: If you're here looking for a review from someone who's actually done Tough Mudder, go back to Google and click somewhere else. This page was just me speculating and it developed into a February 2010 incident between me and TM's marketing/PR team. There is nothing here about the event itself that you'd find useful.

UPDATE: I've summarized the whole Tough Mudder debacle in another blog post. Please click here to see it. Comments on this particular post have been disabled; you're free to express your thoughts on the summary post.

On the topic of "obstacle-course" races (for lack of a better term)...

Update on Tough Mudder

Two weeks ago, I posted about the Tough Mudder trail run, and some copy they had on their site:
Marathon running is simply bad for you – FACT. The human body is not designed to run 26 miles straight over hard ground. Unless you are an Olympic athlete, road racing is a guaranteed way to say goodbye to your knees before you hit 40.
They appear to have updated their site.
Marathon running is simply boring – FACT. And the only thing more boring than doing a marathon is watching a marathon. Road-running may give you a healthy set of lungs, but will leave you with as much upper body strength as Keira Knightley. At Tough Mudder, we want to test your all-round mettle, not just your ability to run in a straight line getting bored out of your mind on your own for hours on end.
Well, aside from calling their opinion "FACT" (they couldn't manage to leave that word out), I do appreciate that they removed misguided medical advice from their site and replaced it with an editorial. Having said that, I want to point out two observations:

1.) I happen not to find marathon running boring, nor do I find watching marathon running boring. This coming from a guy who's been diagnosed, as an adult, by two different psychiatrists, as having ADD. (This is not an argument, but a statement of opinion.)
2.) It's a shame that they have to promote their event by putting down another.

I was reading a little more, and saw this interesting quote:
Is Tough Mudder really the toughest race on the planet?
Tough Mudder is the toughest one day endurance race on the planet for participants who have neither the time nor inclination to dedicate their life to competition.
I wish they hadn't added the words, "to competition" to this, because they compared themselves to races that are obviously more difficult - but they don't know enough about those races to know that most entrants are not competing against the others. That's thus just a statement of ignorance. Given the rest of the copy on the site, I shouldn't be surprised. However, let's remove those two words. Without "to competition", there are two key words.
1. "Inclination" So this is the toughest race that exists for lazy people?
2. "Time" I don't have the time to dedicate my life to ultra running, yet I somehow make it work.

I am really discouraged by thw race's web site. The race promoters just don't seem to have their hearts in the right place. Thanks, but no thanks.

An alternative - the Warrior Dash

On Thursday, out of the blue, a friend sent me a link to another, very similar race - The Warrior Dash:

As that picture indicates, every race entrant gets a T-shirt, medal, and .. a "warrior helmet".

Go to their FAQ page, and you find a completely different attitude. Tough Mudder seems to want to make themselves seem hardcore. Warrior Dash just wants to be fun. Look at this sampling of q&a's from their site:
q. Why do we get warrior helmets?
a. They’re awesome.

q. What if it rains?
a. Better yet.

q. How do I train for Warrior Dash?
a. 1. Day one: run as far as you can. Go home. Day two: do the same thing.
2. Find the dirtiest pond in your neighborhood and snorkel in it - in your slippers, without goggles.
3. Practice your climbing and crawling skills at your local jungle gym. Ignore the small children and parental glares.
4. Do not shower or shave for weeks in order to obtain a true Warrior look.
As far as I can tell, curiously absent from this site is any attempt to compare itself to any other race. It doesn't try to tell people why it's better than marathons, it just gets the point across - hey, this is a race, it's not going to be easy, but it's going to be fun.

I think I'll probably do it.

The ultimate

Of course, none of these races hold a candle to the Pittsfield Peaks Death Race. I've written about it before on this blog. Now in its third or fourth year (I think), the Race Director famously designs the ten-mile course to be "uncompletable", and yet every year, one or two people manage to finish it. So each year, he's made it a little harder to finish. If you want to truly understand just how difficult a "tough guy" race can be, go to that site and see what he puts competitors through. It's pretty impressive.

UPDATE: I've summarized the whole Tough Mudder debacle in another blog post. Please click here to see it. Comments on this particular post have been disabled; you're free to express your thoughts on the summary post.

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  1. The Warrior Dash organizers are great! I've done a few of their "Great Urban Race" series and they are completely professional and only interested in making their races fun for anyone who wants to try them.

  2. I'm fairly certain their 'dig' towards marathon running is a marketing technique you should not be offended by. I would assume most marathon/ultra runners wouldn't be interested in this race because their interest is running specific. Are you also offended that male models don't advertise mascara... i'm sure there are some males out there that use it! It's the same idea.

  3. Hi Tracy,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I agree with you - it's just a marketing technique, and offense is probably the wrong response. I provided two alternative examples - one gives a marketing technique that I can fully endorse. Warrior Hats, of course, are just a gimmick - but isn't that gimmick a much more positive empowering message than "you should do our race because marathons suck" ?

  4. yea, there really is no need to put down running. But I think it's funny and I enjoy running. Maybe it's just a sense of humor thing...

  5. in fact runner's could take it as a compliment that they don't need all the 'stuff' to keep them motivated!

  6. Hi chap, interesting blog! I actually help the chaps at Tough Guy and was fairly struck by what you have written. TG has a problem with the Tough Mudder thing - they approached TG whilst doing their MBA at Harvard, and asked for access to all the info to write a project plan to take TG to the US, for college credits. Now look what the chaps done! Starting a business is hard enough, doing it pinching other folks trade secrets is not just silly, it's the quickest way to destroy a reputation. Tough Guy appointed the first set of lawyers this week. More to come. ADD? Or just arrogance?

  7. UPDATE: I've summarized the whole Tough Mudder debacle in another blog post. Please click here to see it. Comments on this particular post have been disabled; you're free to express your thoughts on the summary post.