“The most famous of all mud runs with a brilliant pop-up course that tests most runners but is not as tough as the title suggests. A cracking day out. As long as you don’t mind mud and electric shocks.”
Where: Multi-national – click on the map for access to all events
Size: Approx 18 thousand runners per event
When: Spring/ summer
Difficulty: Challenging | Tough | Rock Hard
Race completed June 2013 (South London)
- Training – hill sprints, chin ups, press ups and crawling (probably not in the gym though as you’ll look a bit silly)
- Get a good all round level of fitness but you don’t need to be super fit
- Mentally prepare for everything from cold and water to fire and electric shocks
- Get a group of mates together for it
- Watch your step on the trails to avoid injuries
- Take your time on the obstacles and don’t crowd the groups in front
- Gaffa-tape your trainers tight onto your feet to stop your shoes coming off in the mud
- Get an early start time (unless you want it tougher)
- Help other mudders over obstacles – they’ll be doing the same!
- Enjoy it and get someone to take pictures!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
Entry to Tough Mudder is done online and you can either apply as an individual or as a team. It’s an expensive day out if you leave it too late to book. In advance it’s about £60 (British) and goes up to over £100 if booking only a month before. The more team members, the greater discount.
After you’ve booked there’s minimal contact and communication from the race organisers. You choose a preferred start time but don’t get it confirmed until 1 week before race day. This is really inconvenient as the first wave is 8:30am and last is 3pm so hard to plan for, especially for spectators.
On the day you arrive there’s a large race village with music, food vans, merchandise stands, warm up area and registration tent where you check in and get your race number etc.
Out on the course, there were 5 aid stations with water and bananas cut in half. Also first aid and the obligatory ‘St John’s ambulance’ kids. There are plenty of stewards out on the course too, mainly to help direct people around the obstacles.
What’s the course like?
Organisers describe it as a 12 mile race with 20 hard core military style obstacles designed by British Special Forces.
It’s a pop-up course that they build on site and the obstacles are really impressive. Each Tough Mudder event will differ but this review (for London South- Matterly Bowl near Winchester) will give you an idea of the sort of things to expect.
The obstacles are concentrated at the beginning of the race and are an imaginative mixture of set ups getting people crawling, climbing, swimming and jumping. Most challenges are small but there are a half dozen headline obstacles that are brilliant. The Arctic Enima (obstacle 7 – 3.5 miles in) gets runners jumping into a massive skip filled with ice and ice cold water. Another big one is the Electric Eel (obstacle 16 – 7.5 miles in) which is pretty horrendous and gets you crawling along a few inches of water underneath electric wires that frequently snap runners on the head, back or even face! The other main obstacle is Everest (obstacle 20 out of 21 – 11.5 miles) which is like a skate park half pipe and is arguably the most physically challenging – especially as it’s right at the end of the race.
How difficult is Tough Mudder?
Organisers describe Tough Mudder as ‘Probably the toughest event on the planet’. It’s not. It’s definitely tough but the hype makes you anticipate the pain. In terms of running fitness most people could do it with a bit of training because of the stop-start nature of the race. The most you run in one go is about 2 miles.
It is a challenge though and nothing like road running. The ground is uneven so there are lots of twisted ankles and drop outs with dips and trenches on the run.
This reviewer saw a guy drop out on the FIRST corner with a nasty ankle injury!
In terms of the obstacles – as long as you have friends to help you through you’ll be fine. If you haven’t got friends to help you get over obstacles, other people help as there’s a great attitude amongst runners to keep a constant chain. You will need some strength to get through – upper body strength for pulling yourself up onto obstacles (like Funky Monkey which is essentially monkey bars).
If you fail to make it across an obstacle, there’s no pressure to complete it though, and you can walk around if needs be.
The most important training for this race is mental preparation – because yes it’s fun and games but you’re the one who has to jump into freezing cold water! The hardest part is probably the Arctic Enima.
What’s the atmosphere like?
The atmosphere is absolutely brilliant. A couple of guys from under armour get people gee’d up at the start by asking people to shout into each other’s faces! They also chant the race motto which gets everyone up for helping each other out. So organisers definitely work to make it a macho atmosphere but there is a great mix of girls and people from different walks of life who just want to have a laugh.
Out on the course its cracking. Everyone’s laughing at the ridiculous obstacles set out in front of them and there’s always some great fancy dress too like full business suits with briefcases and tonnes of superheros.
Official race website here.
Another good review of another Tough Mudder event here from MuddyRace.co.uk
Official race video.
My Race Diary
By Andy Gosling
This was my very first sporting event so I didn’t know what to expect. As an introduction to these types of events and running races in general I feel it was a great introduction for me. I didn’t feel that the race was as tough as the hype suggests, however it was a brilliant event. Well organised on the day but lacking in communication in the lead up.
On the day I was nervous and excited, but the way they build you up meant I was pumped and well up for it. I did a lot of training over the few months before with running (3 – 5 miles a couple of times a week and one 9 mile run) and some light weights in the gym.
When I crossed the line I felt amazing but my running partner had to drop out after 8 miles so I had no one to high five! Overall I had brilliant day and I would recommend this race to anyone. Bring on a half marathon and then, fingers-crossed, the London Marathon.