There is a reason they call it a Tough Mudder. In fact, they even make fun of Warrior Dash, taunting the entrants with a sign near the beginning saying, “If this was Warrior Dash, you’d be done by now.”
Every year I’ve done a different obstacle course. My first year was Warrior Dash, last year was a Spartan Race, and this year… Tough Mudder Las Vegas.
So how do the events compare?
First, Tough Mudder Las Vegas loves cold water. Although I have no evidence of this, I would swear that the organizers threw ice into every puddle they could find on the day of the race. And just to be sporting, they flat out made one obstacle out of ice water. To add insult to injury, you not only had to wade through it, but you had to duck under a wall to get to the other side.
I. Hate. Cold. Water.
And Tough Mudder Las Vegas had plenty of it. Fortunately, the heat of the desert helped to dry you off, but going from extremely hot to extremely cold wasn’t the most pleasant. Of course, if I’d been running harder between obstacles, I might have enjoyed the cold bath better. As it was, working with my team, I didn’t run much as one of our teammates had a torn ACL. We did end up carrying her for good portions of the race, doing our own impressions of a “Wounded Warrior” carry long before the challenge itself was presented.
Each obstacle in the Tough Mudder has an “out”. Despite signing a “DEATH WAIVER” (basically saying you can’t sue them after you die) I don’t think they truly want anyone hurt, and they do advise that if you can’t swim… Well, don’t try to swim across a deep pond.
The Las Vegas course did spend a lot of time meandering the desert without obstacles (I guess to rack up the right distance) and it did start to get boring. In fact, a lot boring. Marching through the desert is something I do for training, not for a fun event. This particular Mudder could easily have been condensed by 2-3 miles and still been challenging. Additionally, the repetitive wall climbs got old (think of something different!).
You can find out more about Tough Mudder from their website, including some of their famous obstacles such as “Mt. Everest.” which is unique to their event. It’s a fun obstacle, and often requires the help of your fellow Mudders to complete, which is the whole point of things – to help strangers conquer fears and feats.
Tough Mudder is tough there is no doubt about that. But from the Las Vegas experience, I can tell you that Spartan Races have them beat. Sure, Spartan does keep track of time and Tough Mudder does not. But if you don’t care about your time, then you don’t have to care about it at Spartan Races, either. Also, at Spartan you get a medal. I know, no big deal, right?
Well, for My Girl, it is a big deal. She doesn’t and hasn’t often gotten a medal for finishing anything difficult, and so a T-shirt just doesn’t cut it. So for her, despite the fun factor, she was a bit disappointed.
Also, one of our teammates lost a very expensive knee brace, and getting any response from Tough Mudder was a bit of a challenge. Eventually, after some social media pressure, they responded, but to no avail (we are now trying Mudder Nation to see if anyone there found it).
Tough Mudder is fairly famous here on the West Coast. That said, I fou
nd that I enjoyed the atmosphere, challenges, obstacles, and generally everything with the Spartan Race better than Tough Mudder. Each has its own unique aspects, but the Spartan series (everything from the Sprint to the Ultra Beast) has more to offer, varying distances, and the all important medal.
Additionally, the Las Vegas event was obviously not as well supported as it could be – How can you run out of sunscreen at an event in the middle of the desert? Yes, we were near the end, but it was the first day of the 2-day event. Also, how am I supposed to carry sunscreen anyway? I guess I should have done so, but considering they ran out – well, I wasn’t the only one to need more. I guess that’s one obstacle they don’t tell you about – Sunburn!
But if there is a Tough Mudder near you – Take advantage, form a team (or not), and enjoy the fun. Just realize there is a lot of water, and by the end your body will be screaming, “Enough already!”