Is Facebook Taking Over OCR? Or is OCR Taking Over Facebook?

Once upon a time, “It’s not on real TV, but you can see it online” meant you were scraping the bottom the barrel. You aren’t on TV? Well, you must not be legitimate/big time/ready for primetime. In 2017, that is no longer the case.

It has been said that the mobile phone is much like the “Big 3 TV networks” were back in the day. Radio, believe it or not, ruled our entertainment choices at one time, until television came along. ABC, NBC, and CBS were bringing pictures into millions of homes, and by doing that, they were putting myriad radio stars and advertisers out of business. Today, mobile devices and streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon are the new champs, with “traditional television boxes” being the radio.

Enter Facebook. If I was a tech writer, I could go on and on about worldwide mobile users, FB users, data, and usage. I am an OCR writer, so let’s just say Facebook is Facebook. It rules your life and mine, in and out of obstacle racing. Earlier this month, FB launched something called Facebook Watch, which is their new home for “channel style” content.  Facebook will launch original content, as well as partnering with brands for additional content.

Last week, Spartan Race announced it had partnered with Facebook to provide live streaming race coverage for one of those new channels. This new deal will be exclusive as Spartan previously provided that content in real time, and for later streaming on both FB and YouTube. You can view that Facebook channel here. Most Spartan fans are already aware of the US Championship Series and The Tahoe Champs being aired online. As part of the press release, Spartan announced 4 additional broadcasts for fall races in Atlanta, Dallas, Sacramento, and San Francisco.

Today, Tough Mudder announced their own partnership with Facebook and are launching two new channels: Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live.

According to the TMHQ press release.

  • Tough Mudder has partnered with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows. 
  • Facebook will be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. 
  • Fans can add this programming to their watchlist by following the Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live show pages. 

If you recall, the Tougher Mudder Championship Series was just announced last week and offers additional prize money for 4 Tougher events. You can read more about that series here.

As we first heard in The Rise Of The Sufferfests, “Obstacle racing may be the first sport that social media launched.” Should it be any surprise that the two industry leaders, along with the social media leader are doubling down together?

Tough Mudder Press Release

TOUGH MUDDER TO DELIVER ORIGINAL LIVE EVENT PROGRAMMING ON FACEBOOK’S NEW WATCH PLATFORM

 The New “Tougher Mudder Championship” Series To Be Broadcast Exclusively on Facebook

The Live Programming To Include Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp Fitness Classes

BROOKLYN, NY – September 25, 2017 –Tough Mudder, Inc., the leading sports, active lifestyle and media brand, announced it has partnered with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows. Facebook will be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. Fans can add this programming to their watchlist by following the Tough Mudder Live and Tough Mudder Bootcamp Live show pages.

The new Tougher Mudder Championship race series will feature four events beginning with the first regional event on October 7th at Tougher Tri-State in Englishtown, NJ and culminating with the Tougher Mudder World Championship on November 4th at Lake Elsinore, CA (see full schedule below). The Tougher Mudder Championship race series will feature the world’s top OCR, endurance runners, and functional fitness female and male athletes tackling 20+ signature Tough Mudder obstacles, such as Kong, Everest, Funky Monkey: The Revolution, and Arctic Enema, over 10 grueling miles for a chance to take home weekly cash prizing (up to $2,500). Top finishers will qualify for the Championship and respective winning purse of $10,000 each for the first place male and female finishers. The coverage on Facebook will feature live feeds from multiple obstacles throughout the course, “point of view” head cams and aerial drone footage, as well as behind-the-scenes “everyday hero stories” along with hosted commentary and engaged social interaction with viewers from Tough Mudder personalities Eric “E-Rock” Botsford and Kyle “Coach” Railton.

Viewers will also be able to get in shape with weekly, live fitness classes streamed from Tough Mudder’s new fitness studio offering, Tough Mudder Bootcamp. Tough Mudder’s training expertise and fitness content is coveted by millions of people within the Tough Mudder community, as well as by active lifestyle enthusiasts around the world. The partner-based, 45-minute HIIT workouts are sneak peaks at what franchisees will be offering around the United States beginning in fourth quarter of 2017. Classes are centered around four fitness pillars: strength, power, agility and endurance.

“Tough Mudder has become a leading innovator of building sport around community. With our highly engaged global community of millions, Tough Mudder has excelled at delivering a unique, highly social way to consume live sports programming. With Facebook being the exclusive video platform for the Tougher Mudder Championship series, this partnership is a great complement to our linear video programming offerings and partners, and bolsters Tough Mudder as one of the leaders in the future of sports,” said Jerome Hiquet, CMO, Tough Mudder Inc.

Tougher Mudder Championship Series Programming

Oct. 7th             Tougher East, Englishtown, NJ

Oct. 21st            Tougher South, Mt. Pleasant, NC

Oct. 28th           Tougher West, Lake Las Vegas, NV

Nov. 4th             Tougher World Championships, Lake Elsinore, CA

About Tough Mudder:

Founded in 2010 with the launch of the Tough Mudder obstacle course event series, Tough Mudder Inc. has become a leading global sports, active lifestyle and media brand. With more than 3 million participants, the company hosts more than 130 non-competitive (Mini Mudder; Tough Mudder 5K, Tough Mudder Half, and Tough Mudder Full) and competitive (Tougher, Toughest, Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder) events annually in 11 countries including China, Dubai, Indonesia, and Australia through its partnerships with IMG, Seroja and Sports Media and Entertainment 360 (SME360). The company’s content arm provides the more than millions of engaged online brand enthusiasts with fitness, nutrition and wellness content delivered daily across social and digital platforms. Tough Mudder broadcast, OTT and Live Stream programming can be seen worldwide through partnerships with CBS Sports, Facebook, Sky Sports, The CW Network and ESPN Media Distribution. Other sponsorship and distribution partners include Merrell, Amazon, Jeep, Aflac, Guinness, Vega, Samsung, Olympus, Lucozade Sport, Nexcare, For Goodness Shakes, Bosch, TREK, Head & Shoulders, L’Oreal Men Expert, Käserei Loose, Snapchat and Live Stream.

Media Contacts:

Angela Alfano

(703) 447-5629

Angela.Alfano@ToughMudder.com

Robert Zimmerman

(917) 543-1046

Rob@zimstrategies.com

Ethan Metelenis

(917) 882-9038

Ethan.Metelenis@ToughMudder.com

Spartan Race Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spartan, the World’s Largest Obstacle Race and Endurance Brand, to Bring Live Content to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Exclusive Facebook Live Streaming of Spartan Events Launches with 2017 Reebok Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe September 30

BOSTON, MA (September 21, 2017) – Blood, sweat, athleticism and pure grit will stream exclusively on Facebook’s new Watch platform thanks to a partnership between Spartan and Facebook. The partnership will feature live streaming of men’s and women’s obstacle races (OCR) through the 2017 Spartan season, kicking off with the Reebok Spartan World Championship September 30 and October 1 in Lake Tahoe, CA. The broadcasts will be dynamically produced with multiple cameras, drone coverage, graphic packages, audio commentary, replays, and behind-the-scenes content.

“Spartan draws some of the world’s most talented athletes to obstacle racing to battle technical terrain and punishing obstacles, which creates fierce competition that is unlike any other broadcast sport,” said Spartan COO Jeffrey Connor. “Producing live broadcasts of our races was a major focus for us in 2017 and an important part of Spartan and the OCR industry’s growth. Partnering with Facebook to stream our events exclusively on Watch will bring the action to sports fans across the globe, showcasing the pure grit of the fastest growing participation sport while helping Spartan spread its message of healthy transformation to a new audience of millions.”

In addition to broadcasting the race events, Spartan’s Facebook Live streams will feature interviews with competitors and major players in the industry along with a host of socially-driven content optimized for a mobile audience, including live-polling and real-time engagement. Spartan will also produce a weekly workout session exclusively for Facebook’s Watch platform. People can add this content to their watchlist by following Spartan LIVE.

“As a producer of lifestyle content that spans sport, nutrition and training, Spartan has more than five million Facebook followers and established television shows on NBC Sports Network and NBC primetime, which makes this partnership a natural next step as we expand our media programing,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “The live streaming broadcasts of our events this year received tremendous views, averaging more than one million for each, and as we expand our Championship Series to more than 30 countries across the world in 2018, we’re excited to grow those numbers globally as we work with Facebook.”

Spartan’s militaristic-style obstacle races push the bodies and minds of competitors to the limit across miles of unforgiving terrain while they conquer signature obstacles such as the spear throw, bucket brigade and barbed wire crawl. Spartan is a leader in transforming obstacle racing into a mainstream endurance sport, having been the first brand to feature timing, rankings and a Global Championship Series. The 2017 Reebok Spartan World Championship is the pinnacle event of the obstacle racing season and features a field of elite athletes from more than 50 countries battling the mountainous terrain at Squaw Valley during the 16-mile “Beast” race for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. This year’s event features a new World Team Championship, which will see coed teams of three from 25 countries facing off in a team-style competition.

Following the World Championship, Spartan plans to broadcast races in Atlanta (October 21), Dallas (October 28), Sacramento (November 11) and at AT&T Park in San Francisco (November 18), which is part of the Spartan “Stadium Series” that unfolds at the hallowed grounds of the most beloved ballparks across America.

ABOUT SPARTAN RACE, INC.
Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first in-sport to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2017, Spartan Race will attract more than one million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats. The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than five million passionate social media followers, health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and a popular NBC television series, which has made obstacle racing one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan Race events feature races at three distances, 3+Mile/20+ Obstacle “Sprint,” 8+ Mile/25+ Obstacle “Super” and 12+ Mile/30+ Obstacle “Beast,” culminating in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Visit http://www.spartan.com for more information and registration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan Fine, 781.248.3963, jonathanf@spartan.com

 

Tougher Mudder Nashville: Tall Grass, Muddy Fun, and Timing Issues

Change In Location for Tougher Mudder Nashville

Nashville usually hosts a Tough Mudder at Milky Way Farms, which has been the venue for many races, including the Warrior Dash and Warrior Dash World Championships.  This year racers got to visit a new cow farm in Lebanon, TN, for some not-as-hilly-but-still-stinky-cow-mud fun.

Negatives

I like to end with the positives, so allow me to start with what could have been better.

Check-in: I ran the Tougher Mudder (hence my title), and check in was slow moving.  There were many check-in lines, yes, but no one knew until he/she got to the front of the line that they were organized by last names, so there was much grumbling.  That being said, once the code was scanned, it was very quick.

Timing: It is very, very frustrating when the timing is messed up.  My time is over 15 minutes WRONG.  I contacted TMHQ several times but still haven’t received an answer.  I’m talking, they have me at 15 minutes SLOWER than I actually ran.  My watch isn’t official, no, but I have seen many time-stamped photos that say the same about times.  My time isn’t the only one that is wrong.

Finishing: There was really nothing.  A Tough Mudder finished, got a headband and a T-shirt, and walked away.  I had to find someone to report that I was done. I was then was told there was no podium, no timing tent, no winning money.  I’d have to wait for my times to be emailed (got them 12 hours later and they were wrong), and winners still haven’t received payment information.

Parking and bag check: $20 to park, which not everyone paid, and $10 to drop my bag on a table, just to find it buried later?

 

Positives

Volunteers:  The volunteers were STELLAR and I thanked every single one I ran past.  They were so helpful and treated all runners far better than the Tough Mudder event staff.

Course Markings: Sure, this can always be better, and more people should have been placed to ensure runners were going in the right direction, but it was fair.

Obstacles: There were a lot of water obstacles, and some were 100% new to me. Volunteers were thorough in explaining what to do and were also very encouraging.  The challenges went beyond the usual grip strength/run fast that I am used to.

Overall

What I thought would be a faster course was offset by the tall grass. This turned many miles into high knee drills.  It was a blast to run a competitive raced that required teamwork and individual push.  The new venue was easy to find and had super volunteers.

If Tough Mudder is serious about (suddenly) starting all these competitions for money, they need to be more organized and definitely need to handle the timing and money situation better.

Tough Mudders are always fun, and I viewed this as a training opportunity.  To win my first Tougher Mudder was cool, but the way the winners were treated (this is coming from talking to the 1st and 2nd place male winners and the 2nd place female, as well) needs to be handled much differently.

As always, big thanks to the volunteers, and because the Tough Mudder was my first ever OCR and it is what got me into OCR racing. I’ll always have one on my racing calendar!

 

 

Tough(er) Mudder Seattle 2017 Race Review

Initial Impression

Tough Mudder has returned to the Palmer Coking Coal Company venue just south of Seattle for the 6th year in a row, but this time they brought their new competitive wave: Tougher Mudder.  For an extra $20 on top of a regular registration, you could join the very first wave of the day which includes a nice yellow race bib, official timing of the 10-mile loop, and a chance at a small prize pool if you finish top 3 in your respective gender.

While I’m no stranger to Tough Mudder and other obstacle course races, this event was both my first attempt at a Tougher wave and my first time running at the Seattle venue.  While this particular race had its share of quirks (and a brutal, awful, no-good Mud Mile…), the overall experience was awesome and I would be excited to sign up for the event again in the future!

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Start-Line

The Start Line

Let’s start with one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had at an OCR start line.

It was the first wave of the first day of the event, so something like the generator tripping out causing the music to stop, and the large start line inflatable arch to deflate into the crowd can be expected, twice.  Even starting a few minutes late wasn’t a big deal, but the start line MC definitely left something to be desired for this first wave of the day.

For a competitive heat with prize money, you would at least expect a brief overview of the rules right?  Maybe a clarification on whether or not you were required to complete every obstacle, if there were penalty loops of any kind, or if any of the obstacles didn’t apply for the Tougher Heat?  Well, we got nothing like that.  This was particularly concerning when we arrived at the Everest obstacle in the middle of the lap where a volunteer was telling everyone that they weren’t allowed to help each other.  What?  That doesn’t sound like a Tough Mudder event at all, especially when some of the other obstacles required assistance from your fellow competitors to complete.

Anyway, we did get a few minutes trying to hype us up which went pretty well, but there was no national anthem and we didn’t even recite a Tough Mudder pledge.  The MC brought us into the middle of the start area to put our hands in and counted down for us all to chant “Tougher Mudder”.  And… surprise!  It turns out that same countdown was the one to start the race, so after we all looked around confused for a few seconds, the start of the pack took off and the rest of us followed.

Not far away from the start line, a fellow racer commented, “That was the weirdest start line experience ever,” and I would have to agree.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Map

The Terrain and Obstacles

This venue has a wide variety of different terrain and Tough Mudder did a great job of sending us up, over, and around just about all of it.  The start line opened up into a large field which is great when everybody is bunched up at the start but eventually led into some fairly technical single-track through the woods after the first obstacle, Kiss of Mud 2.0.  A theme on this course appeared to be that “mud” actually meant “rocky wet asphalt” and this barb wire crawl was one of the lowest I’ve done.  Rolling wasn’t even an option (and I think is against the rules anyway?) and almost everybody going through it was catching their clothing or bib on at least one barb.

After that we headed into a wooded trail where the single track opened up at a few different points to provide enough room for Skidmarked (inverted wall), Devil’s Beard (crawl under a cargo net with a sandbag!), and Berlin Walls (~10 ft walls with a kicker) before narrowing back up and eventually crossing over itself before we were able to head back out into open ground near the 2 mile mark.

After the course opened up, we approached a crowd-favorite obstacle, The Block Ness Monster, which involves two giant rotating rectangular prisms in a pool of water about 4 feet deep.  This obstacle requires a little bit of organized teamwork and despite this being a competitive race, everyone was super eager to help each other out.  We were able to alternate moving different people over the blocks and pulling down on the opposite side to help the next person over before moving onto the next block and eventually out of the obstacle.

Next up was Hero Carry which seemed odd for a competitive event, but we paired off and carried each other anyway.  Soon after was the obstacle I will probably have nightmares about: Mud Mile 2.0

Normally, Mud Mile 2.0 is a series of muddy trenches with water in them that you have to pull yourself over, step your way to the top of, or get some assistance from others to make your way through, but this was no normal mud mile.  As I alluded to earlier, this wasn’t “Mud” that we were navigating over, but rather a ground down and compacted asphalt-type material that would scratch your skin if you even looked at it the wrong way.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Mud-Mile

Add in the fact that they dug the trenches to be about 7-8 feet deep and only included a token amount of water at the bottom of each one and this made for one tough obstacle.  Not to mention they made us go down and back for a total of 16 trenches!  Luckily I arrived at the same time as a couple fellow mudders and we were able to team up to get through it.  We quickly worked out a system where two people would boost the first to the top, then one would boost while the person on top helped pulled the second person out, then both people on top pulled the third person out, then repeat, and repeat and repeat and repeat…

While it felt like we were pretty efficient by the end of it, Mud Mile took a lot of time and managed to scrape up any part of your body that was exposed while tiring out your arms a bit.  It was an interesting obstacle for a competitive race, but certainly, one that embodied the Tough Mudder spirit of encouraging teamwork.  For the waves beyond the initial Tougher wave, they modified the obstacle to only require going through each trench once which cut it in half, but it was still one of the toughest obstacles on the course.

Up until this point was relatively flat, but the course turned towards the larger hills of the venue which made for some interesting terrain based obstacles.  First was an Absail down a steep hill of very loose dirt with a help of a set of ropes.  Next, we came to Everest 2.0 which had the ropes down for the Tougher wave.  Even with the ropes, it’s tricky to navigate yourself over the rounded lip of the halfpipe, especially with a volunteer telling everyone they weren’t allowed to help each other.  I’m not sure if this was a miscommunication with Tough Mudder or a special rule for this obstacle on this course, but it seemed odd.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Elevation

Next, we navigated up the largest hill on the course right around the 4-mile mark.  The front half was very steep and required the help of a cargo net to reach flatter ground, but that “flatter” ground still kept going upwards until we eventually reached the back side of the hill for the second Absail obstacle of the course.  This one was even steeper than the first but wasn’t more difficult if you kept your hands on the rope and controlled your speed during the descent.

I also want to note that there was an awesome guy playing bagpipes throughout the course and he somehow managed to get on top of this huge hill with the bagpipes!  I certainly didn’t see any easy way to get up that hill, on course or not, so he’s a champ to have made the climb with bagpipes in tow.

Quagmire was the next obstacle but just ended up being a short trek through a shallow swampy area that was a couple feet deep, but not very muddy.  Finally to finish the first half of the course (or the entire course for anyone running the Tough Mudder Half that day) was Pyramid Scheme.  This slippery wall was made easy for the Tougher wave thanks to a set of ropes coming from the top.

The back half of the course wound its way through varying terrain including more wooded single-track, a portion through a wide open quarry-like area between huge piles of rocks, and some minor hills before eventually returning to the wide-open terrain that led back into Mudder Village and the finish line.  Obstacles seemed more spread out an in the second half and included:

  • Snot Rocket – A modified Augustus Gloop where you submerge your body before coming up to the bottom of a tall tube that you climbed a wooden ladder in while water was sprayed down on top of you.
  • Lumberjacked – Two elevated logs you had to navigate over
  • Black Hole – A very dusty crawl underneath large sheets of water that weighed down on you
  • Balls to the Wall – A tall wall climb assisted by a rope and wooden beams
  • Bale Bonds – Climb over bales of hay (Note: this obstacle was totally destroyed by the time the afternoon waves arrived)
  • Stage 5 Clinger – A tricky climb up an inverted wooden ladder before you have to pull yourself over and around to get on top of the obstacle and climb down the other side
  • Killa Gorilla – Simply navigated up and down the side of a steep hill 3 times, not much of an “obstacle”.
  • Mineshafted – This one was new to me and involved navigating down a long tube with the help of a rope.  This led to a mini-cavern that we then climbed out of using a large wooden ladder of sorts

The final three obstacles were some of the most fun that Tough Mudder offers starting with Funky Monkey The Revolution, a set of uphill monkey bars leading to a series of three wheels that must be held on to while they spin you to the next.  A good test of upper body strength over a green pool of water waiting to greet you if you fail.

Tough-Mudder-Seattle-2017-Funky-Monkey

Next, we sprinted across a large field where we picked up a large bag of ice and carried it ~100 meters to Arctic Enema The Rebirth where we dumped the ice into the obstacle before following it down into the frigid water.  Not only was the water freezing, but they forced you to submerge your whole body to navigate under a small fence portion and a set of tires before finally being able to pull yourself out of the end of the obstacle.  If you weren’t awake up until this point in the race, you certainly are now!

Finally was a short jog over to Kong, a set of 5 rings suspended over a large airbag waiting to catch you like a movie stunt performer if you fall.  For the Tougher wave and any Tough Mudder Legionnaires, there was no electricity on the course as we were able to skip Electroshock Therapy while attempting Kong, which backed right up to the finish and Mudder Village.

Mudder Village

The Mudder Village at this venue was a little smaller than some others I’ve attended but still had its share of vendors selling products and handing out free samples.  There were plenty of restrooms off to the side with a large rinsing area and changing area behind.

My only complaint was the minimal selection of food options, especially as the village got crowded in the afternoon.  There were only two food trucks selling food and both had sizable lines.  I think I managed to choose the longer one in my attempt to get a burger, but it took an unacceptably long time to actually get my food.  About an hour and a half from getting in line to actually eating by my count which made for some grumpy people hovering around the food truck waiting on their orders.

While the food was slow, the beer garden was fast and there was no wait for the free beer once you made our way over there.

Verdict

Overall, this was a great Tough Mudder event and the small quirks here and there wouldn’t stop me from signing up again.  Doing the Tougher wave was a great experience and a chance to meet some awesome mudders both before and during the race, some of which have run dozens of events.  Plus, not having to wait at any obstacles was a nice change of pace from doing a wave in the middle of the day where lines begin to form.  In addition, knowing that we’re being timed is a great incentive to push myself even harder on the course, even if I don’t expect to find myself on the podium anytime soon.  If you have a chance to run a Tough Mudder in Seattle in the future, I recommend it.

 

Photo Credit:

  • Tough Mudder
  • My wife, Becky Bouillon

Tougher Mudder Championship Season – The Money Continues To Roll In

This morning, TMHQ announces even more money to their growing list of events with payouts. Tough Mudder which has always promoted teamwork and camaraderie first and foremost, (including very prominently in CEO Will Dean’s recent book release) is announcing additional dough to be won this year at their Tougher event series. It’s called, The Tougher Mudder Championship Series. 

For those that don’t know, Tougher Mudder is Mudder’s version of the “elite wave”. It’s the first wave of the day, athletes are chip timed, and there are penalties for failing obstacles. First one to the finish line wins. Anyone can enter once they pay an additional $20 fee on top of whatever they paid for the event. At the “regula” Tougher Mudder events, which were launched earlier this year, the payouts have been relatively small. Top men and women both take home $500 for first, $250 for second, and $100 for third. Money you will happily take home, but nothing one is going to get on a plane for.

The Tougher Mudder Championship Series begins with the “Regional Champioships” which payout nearly 4 X more. Men and women each win $2500 for first, $1000 for second and $500 for 3rd.

The World Championship pays $10k for 1st, $2,500 for 2nd, and $1000 for third.

The most interesting part of this series is not the payouts, but the timing. Rather than roll this concept out in 2018, Tough Mudder is launching it now. As in now, now. As in the first event is in less than a month.

Here are the dates and locations:

  • 10/7     Tougher Mudder East Championship at Tough Mudder Tri-State
  • 10/ 21  Tougher Mudder South Championship at Tough Mudder Carolinas
  • 10/28   Tougher Mudder West Championship at Tough Mudder Las Vegas
  • 11/4 – Tougher Mudder World Championship at Tough Mudder SoCal

In order to qualify for the World Championship, you must run in a Tougher at one of the 3 Regional Championships and finish in top 10. The other way is through a waiver application and list your athletic prowess for considerations. 

The obvious schedule conflicts for the most serious OCR athletes are the Spartan World Championships in Tahoe on September 30th, The OCR World Championships near Toronto, Canada on October 13th weekend, and of course World’s Toughest Mudder on November 11th.

Will the best in the business add any of these races to their training and racing schedule this late in the game to cash in? Or will this be a great opportunity for the athletes that hover in the 3rd-6th range at similar races to steal the show? As of press time, we had not reached any athletes to get confirmation on their attendance.

We also asked TMHW what the 2018 Toughest Championship Series will look like, and they told us it has yet to be set.

PS For a full accounting of all the money Tough Mudder events and dollars associated given out this year, we are confident Will Hicks and The World’s Toughest Podcast will have something up very soon.

Tough Mudder Arizona 2017

Tough Mudder Arizona

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Arizona, so naturally I decided to take part in the 2017 Tough Mudder with friends I’d never met before in person. This is how most of my races go now. What did I learn? I learned that Tough Mudder is changing to rapidly become an even bigger hitter in the OCR world. Read more to learn why.

STATS AND STUFF

Event Location: Mesa, Arizona.

Actual course distance: 10.2 miles for the Full/Tougher Mudder Course

Weather: 26°C/86F, some gusty winds. Hot.

Terrain: Arid desert plateau. Minimal elevation gain/loss. Ground underfoot ranged from hard pack, powdery dust, sand, broken asphalt, desert brush, and some gravel. Oh, and mud… duh.

Events offered: Tougher Mudder (Competitive Full Course), Tough Mudder (Full Course), Tough Mudder Half, MiniMudder.

Getting there: The race takes place on the crumbling ruins of an old Nascar circuit, just on the south side of Mesa. It’s practically walking distance from Mesa Gateway airport, so it’s easily accessible. Cost of parking: $20 US.

Facilities: Porta potties in Mudder village and on course. First aid. Merchandise and food tents. Beer tent. Bag check. Rinsing area. Changing tents. ETC

Equipment needed: I ran in my Merrell All Out Crush OCR shoes, which were idea for the conditions because they drained exceptionally well. I took a hydration pack, and a couple of gels. The course chewed up my running socks and shirt a bit, so don’t go wearing your expensive duds.

Swag: A great quality tech running shirt from Merrell/Tough Mudder, a Tough Mudder headband. Brags.

IN DEPTH

Difficulty

The course for the Arizona Tough Mudder is very flat, which means it’s a suitable race for participants of almost any athletic ability. Obstacles are always optional in Tough Mudder, but some obstacle training and a background in running would make the experience a lot more fun. By entering the original Tough Mudder, you should find that slower pacing and the non-competitive atmosphere means that exhaustion doesn’t play as large a role as it might in other OCR events (shorter and competitive versions of the event are also available if the full isn’t to your liking). The biggest challenge by far in Arizona is the heat, which even in early April, can be considerably more than out of state visitors to Tough Mudder Arizona might be prepared for. 

Water

Multiple water stations were located across the course. Some of the water stations also provided 🍌 halves for participants. I counted at least five water stations. I brought a hydration pack, but didn’t really need it – call me paranoid – but this is the desert. I never felt thirsty.

Obstacles

If you’ve never done a Tough Mudder before, let me give you an introduction. The format of the original Tough Mudder is that of an event rather than a race (the new Tougher Mudder competitive wave with prize money is brand new in 2017), with the most popular iteration being the 10-12 mile distance, or the FULL Tough Mudder.  The obstacles found in a Tough Mudder are among the best in the industry, and while they may not always be the most challenging or punishing, they are always very well designed, very well built and amusingly named (See “stage 5 clinger” and “Snot Rocket”). While some of the obstacles are one person at a time kinda deals, many of them are team based, forcing you to work together. This is a critical part of the Tough Mudder. 

Tough Mudder Arizona

But don’t be fooled, these are not really easy obstacles;  it’s just that some of the obstacles are designed to mess with your amygdala more than your muscles. There’s a fear factor here, and the race designers play with almost all the phobias through a series of elaborate stunts and tasks. We get to experience the fear of heights, water, tight spaces, tight spaces with water, getting dirty, getting cold, being unable to overcome an obstacle, or even getting electrocuted in front of a crowd (not even joking). Welcome to the twisted sense of humor of Tough Mudder.

Yet it’s the simple things that put the ‘Tough” in Tough Mudder. Some of the most difficult sections of the Arizona course involved simple mud traps and pits. Best to be prepared for that. 

Tough Mudder Arizona

“Everest 2.0” requires speed and power to launch high enough to be grabbed by helping hands, but a relatively dry ramp at this event meant that failure was rare on this obstacle. For me, Pyramid scheme is the beating heart of the Tough Mudder experience and remains a stroke of pure genius. Why? The obstacle is designed to deliver muddy mayhem at every turn, and it requires massive amounts of teamwork to complete. Conquering it as a team results in a huge sense of accomplishment and multiple fist bumps. Just make sure you tighten the waistband of your shorts before making yourself part of the pyramid. Someone will pants you. It happens. Block Ness Monster is another highlight. This obstacle is just sheer bliss and entertainment value – note to course designers for next time – It’s much better when you can’t touch the bottom of the pool. But like I said earlier, it’s the simplicity of the setup that becomes the canvas for the adventure.

Tough Mudder Arizona

New or notable obstacles:

SNOT ROCKET/AUGUSTUS GLOOP
A vertical climb inside a tube, while you are being sprayed with water from above. This one looked pretty awful, but like nearly all of the water obstacles, it came as a welcome way of cooling off. 

Tough Mudder Arizona

BIRTH CANAL
A crawl beneath heavy, water filled tarps. This didn’t seem to require any kind of team effort and was not visible enough for any real spectator value. This obstacle should have been twice as long.  

Tough Mudder Arizona

KONG (Legionnaires only-so run another Tough Mudder and come play on this bad boy)
An impressively​ tall ring set. Although it looks cool, this is the far less interesting alternative to Electroshock Therapy. It’s presence is likely there to challenge the Tough Mudder timed event participants since electroshock therapy isn’t a suitable finish for a race I guess.

Tough Mudder Arizona

SHAWSHANKED
Think Andy Dufresne crawling his way to freedom and dropping into the muck of the sewer (this is a very literal interpretation).  A narrow horizontal tube and rope crawl, terminating in a headfirst drop into a pool of muddy water. The intimidation factor of this made it a great addition to the Tough Mudder experience. Make sure you hold your nose next time. 

Tough Mudder Arizona

Notes on the Tougher Mudder Competitive wave:

Those running the competitive wave will have found themselves much more challenged by obstacles that are meant to be completed with a more willing set of team-mates. It’s a pretty exciting addition, but I couldn’t make it to the race in time to run competitively. Plus, I had my awesome team THE ANGRY RACCOONS to run with. 

Safety

Safety on course was great. Tough Mudder has developed a solid protocol for safety and ensuring the obstacles on offer are sturdy and well tested so at the minimum, I would advise you to bring sunscreen, listen to the safety briefings, and read the signage. More than once I saw people entering deep water and needing to be rescued by very experienced looking lifeguards, but everyone was warned multiple times about the risks at Tough Mudder. The heat was probably the thing to be most concerned about at this particular event.

Turnout

HUGE. It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t too difficult so I saw a lot of people on course clearly enjoying themselves. The staff seemed happy to be there. There were plenty of laughs. If you’re in Arizona, definitely check it out. 

CONCLUSION

Tough Mudder still manages to keep the incandescent appeal of the obstacle course alive and well in Arizona, and it is refreshing to see a company being progressive and thoughtful towards its participants. There’s buzz and movement there. Why? They have lowered the bar of entry to the Tough Mudder by expanding the shorter entry level events, and yet maintained the spirit of the original Tough Mudder. But that’s not all (this is sounding like an infomercial), TM has moved into a new arena of highly engaging competitive races that seems to hold up well against the other major players in the sport.  In short, Tough Mudder is becoming one of the most broadly appealing and interesting series of OCR events worldwide. 

I’m VERY excited to see Tough Mudder continue to make inroads into the race calendars of more pro and competitive obstacle course racers.

Your move Spartan…

The Angry Raccoons

Photo Credit: Gameface Media and Tough Mudder

(Some) Answers About Tougher Mudder

Tougher Mudder

We’ve reached out to TMHQ and here is what we have learned so far regarding the recent Tougher Mudder announcement.

  • It is a timed start wave at a regular Tough Mudder using timing chips and/or bibs.
  • It will cost $30 extra to register for one of these waves.
  • It will take place prior to the first standard Tough Mudder start wave of the day. Closer to the event you’ve registered for, check your email and online for pre-event communications for details on the exact start time for each event.
  • So far, Tougher Mudders will happen Saturday Morning ONLY at the following events:
    • New Orleans  March 18, 2017
    • Los Angeles    March 25, 2017
    • Arizona            April 8, 2017
    • Kentucky         June 3, 2017
  • There MAY be more Tougher events added as the year goes on.
  • You can purchase an add-on ticket for Tougher Mudder if you’ve already signed up for a regular Tough Mudder.
  • There will NOT be day of, on-site sales for Tougher Mudder.
  • Tougher Mudder will be part of the existing Tough Mudder course and obstacles, but will include an additional set of course challenges, specifically created for Tougher Mudder participants.
  • There will be prizes of $500, $250, and $100 for the top male and female participants.
  • There are currently NO team categories or prizes for Tougher Mudder.
  • ALL participants will get Tougher Mudder t-shirt, Tough Mudder headband, and chance to win prize money or discounts to Toughest Mudder events

Comment below with your questions, and we will update this article when we have the answers.