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Tough Mudder Offers Extreme Alternative to Traditional Marathons


Making the decision to run a marathon is nothing to sneeze at. Long distance running takes stamina, drive and persistence. According to the adventure sports company Tough Mudder,  however, regular marathons only test “your ability to run in a straight line, on your own, for hours on end, getting bored out of your mind.” As an alternative to so-called boring marathons, this bold new company organizes brutal marathons worldwide to test “strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.”

Are you tough enough?

Billing itself as“Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet,” Tough Mudder offers a ballsy substitute for traditional marathons. While its events are shorter than regular marathons (at just 10-12 miles),each one is intensified by grueling obstacle courses. And get this: the courses are designed by British Special Forces. This isn’t your dad’s marathon, unless your dad’s a kickass soldier.

Think you’ve got what it takes to run through live electric wires (an event Tough Mudder calls Electroshock Therapy)? Gotwhat it takes make it through “Fire Walker,” a course that involves running through flaming bales of hay? If the Tough Mudder sounds impossible (and like something out of a horror movie), it is. A good 80 percent of participants make it all the way through. Those that reach the end do so by working with other participants, as most Tough Mudder obstacles require teamwork.

While most traditional marathons require nothing more than $200 bucks and a last name, Tough Mudder participants have to agree to the following pledge:

“I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.

I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.

I do not whine – kids whine.

I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.

I overcome all fears.”

If all this sounds pretty new, it’s because it is. The first Tough Mudder event was held as recent as May 2010 at Bear Creek Ski resort near Allentown, Pennsylvania. The company, headquartered in Brooklyn, was founded by Guy Livingstone and Will Dean. Dean actually came up with the idea for Tough Mudder while attending Harvard Business School and decided to pursue it after it became a finalist in a business plan contest.

Like most marathon events, Tough Mudder isn’t free. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg however (unless you lose one or the other in the Texas Smokehouse obstacle). The company offers early bird discounts a few months leading up to its events, with a final entry fee of $150. The entry fee includes a T-shirt, beer, and live music at a post-event party.

If you’re ready for Nature’s Pocket (a crawl through underground tunnels) or the Braveheart Charge (a run down a mountain), you might want to give a Tough Mudder event a try. If you have “enough time and money to train their knees to run 26 miles” as Tough Mudder puts it, stick with a regular marathon. And if both those options sound too difficult, you can always catch a marathon of “Saved by the Bell” on TV.

About John Brhel

John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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