Recently, the newly popular ‘mud runs’ or ‘obstacle races’ have been making big headlines, but not for a happy reason.  On the 14th, Tony Weathers, a 30 year old fitness buff, died during Fort Worth’s Original Mud Run.  He passed away while attempting to cross the Trinity River, the crossing of which has been described as chaotic and generally unsafe.  It’s unknown exactly what happened to Tony, but lifeguards (who racers said were ‘overburdened’) rescued many people from the river during the event.  The police are still waiting for the results of Tony’s autopsy before deciding whether to proceed with criminal charges with the race organizers.


(Image Source)


A reader named Marissa alerted me to this story.  She wrote: 


I’m no stranger to racing events–I’ve completed who knows how many 5ks, a half-marathon, and 5 sprint triathlons.  When I sign up for a race, I have a reasonable expectation of safety – that there will be a safe, approved course, lifeguards, necessary traffic barriers, etc. I know USAT has some oversight over triathlons, and I assume they are concerned about safety, though I haven’t looked into it. I know many 5Ks, etc. are run by private race companies, but they don’t include the hazards these mud run-type races do… live electric wires, river crossings, fire pits, etc.”


Marissa’s email – and Tony’s sad death – got me thinking.  How safe as these obstacle races REALLY? Who designs the obstacles? And what should participants be aware of prior to attempting the race?


I wanted to know what an obstacle race director thought of these safety concerns, so I reached out to Sam Abbitt, the organizer of Savage Races, “the most badass mud and obstacle race event yet. featuring big, rugged obstacles spread out over 4 – 6 treacherous miles.”  Here’s what he said:


Safety is something we take very seriously at Savage Race.  Much time and effort goes into ensuring that our events are as safe as they can be given the inherent risks involved with our style of extreme event.  Our obstacles designs are always approved by licensed engineers, then built by certified general contractors.  We include fall prevention systems on many of our tall obstacles.  We hire teams of lifeguards to monitor water crossing over 4 feet in depth.  Finally, we station volunteers and experienced medical professionals throughout our course so that they may quickly react to an emergency.

Despite all of the safety measures we implement, there will always be inherent risks associated with participating in Savage Race.  The most common emergency associated with any endurance sport is the risk of a heart attack.  A man experienced one at our last event, but luckily the rescue personnel we had on site were able to treat him within a few minutes of his collapse.  He was transported to the nearest hospital, and survived.  The guy was probably lucky that his heart attack happened at Savage Race (while we had paramedics nearby) and not while he was jogging in his neighborhood alone.  Another danger that many people overlook is heat exhaustion.  We encourage participants to drink as much cold water as possible, and they should never skip a water station on the course.


Like Marissa said, safety during any race is a concern.  Even in the most well-designed, well-staffed course, a runner in a 5K can twist her ankle.  A cyclist in a triathlon can crash into another biker.  A swimmer can panic in the water.  The reality is that most of the deaths associated with such races is not related to the course or the fault of the organizers at all – it’s usually related to a medical condition that the racer didn’t know he or she had in the first place.   As I wrote in this triathlon swimming post, from 2006 to 2008, 14 Americans died during triathlons; 7 out of 9 who had autopsies died from cardiovascular abnormalities.  However, 13 of the deaths occurred during the swim leg. 


What does it mean that so many triathletes die during the swim leg?  Well, simply put, the swim leg is very stressful.  Researchers theorize the high number of deaths during the swim leg because of the chaotic mass starts; people panic when they hit the water, and it’s difficult for rescue workers to identify who is in trouble.  I infamously had a full-blown panic attack during my first Olympic triathlon and had to be rescued by a lifeguard.  It was very overwhelming, very scary, and could have been extremely dangerous if the event hadn’t been well-staffed.  The experience made me much more cautious during future events. 


I have never participated in an obstacle course race, but I think it’s pretty obvious that the odds of injury are much higher when you’re slipping and sliding in mud and dashing around obstacles, instead of just running in a straight line. It seems like an obstacle run would be similar to the swim leg of tri – lots of room for freak-outs and panicking.


If you do want to tackle an obstacle run, here are some things to consider during an obstacle run (or a triathlon or road race, for that matter!):


  • Never do any event – from a 5K to a triathlon to an obstacle course – that you do not believe you can physically handle.
  • Stop at every water station, hydrate, and take a break.
  • You can skip any obstacle that you don’t feel comfortable tackling.  This will eliminate you from placing, of course, but you should never do something that you feel is unsafe.
  • Don’t get sucked into the obstacle race’s hype about being the “toughest” or “the most badass.”  Remember that this is all fun marketing ploys.  Sometimes, being the most badass means you end up doing some ridiculously reckless and stupid things.  Ultimately, your safety is your responsibility, both in races and in life.
  • Follow the website’s recommendations for clothing and shoes. 
  • Go slowly – you can make an obstacle race a fun and messy event, not a personal record-setting chase.  Rushing through the obstacles increases the odds that you’ll get hurt.
  • Step back before tackling an obstacle and observe the scene.  If it is very chaotic, consider waiting a few minutes or moving to the side where there are less people.  Don’t push your way to the front if you are nervous.
  • If the obstacle course involves open water swimming, be very sure you are prepared to swim in open water (here are my tips). Spend time imaging what the swim will be like and emotionally prepare yourself to be splashed, kicked, and swam over.  It’s a good idea to practice in open water as well.
  • Consider doing a smaller event.  Check the website to see if there is a mass start (usually more crazy) or if the event starts in timed waves, which will be less chaotic.
  • To be extra safe, consider getting a cardiovascular work-up by your physician, especially if you know you have a heart condition.

And last, but certainly not least, remember that a true sign of toughness is being able to admit when something doesn’t feel right and backing down.  Always trust your gut.  


(Images of obstacle course race from Meghann at Meals and Miles.)


Have you done an obstacle race?  Did you feel safe at the event?  What safety tips do you have to share with others? Personally – as cool as I think these events sound, I do not think I would do one. I’m pretty clumsy and feel like I’d be guaranteed to roll an ankle in the mud and put myself out of commission for weeks on end.



  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 19, 2012, 2:08 pm

    I’ve never done one – they scare me! Having said that, I’d be super proud of myself if I did one day complete an obstacle race. To be honest, I’m quite content with the challenge that a marathon or half marathon provides!

  • Sarah April 19, 2012, 2:10 pm

    One thing that bothers me (and the number one reason I wouldn’t do a mud run) is the germ factor. I wonder how many people get sick after those races from swimming through the germ-infested mud pits.

    It’s one thing to be in a big lake or a river with moving water. It’s another thing entirely to accidentally swallow some water from a 36″ deep mud pit that’s had a hundred or more dirty bodies wade through it. Nasty nasty nasty.

    • Maddie April 19, 2012, 3:13 pm

      This is exactly what I was going to say. Never mind just swallowing the water! A guy I work with ended up with a nasty infection because he cut himself somewhere along the course and that dirty water he jumped into was full of germs and probably other people’s blood too. Not really my idea of a good time…although the slip and slides look fun 🙂

    • Sara April 19, 2012, 5:06 pm

      I commented on this below but my sister is a nurse and a guy had such a horrible leg infection from one of these events that they were considering amputation! I cannot say whether they had to go to these measures or not but I certainly hope he got better without having to amputate 🙁

    • Laine April 19, 2012, 5:12 pm

      The Harvard Crew Team all had MRSA. It’s basically in the community now so you don’t need to be in a mud pit with people to get it. That said, I will be taking it easy and scrubbing with antibacterial scrub after the obstacle course I’m doing.

    • Courtney May 5, 2012, 3:37 pm

      My boyfriend did one of these races and came down with a horrible fever and stomach pain 2 days after – he had to go to the ER in the middle of the night. He’s fine now, but it was terrifying and I (with a weakened immune system) am scared to do one of these races!

  • carly April 19, 2012, 2:12 pm

    Good points. Good timing too, since my brother has been bugging me to run a “Run a Muck” mud run with him in June. We’ve done the same race (same course too) for the last two years, but I admit to being a bit more hesitant this time around for two reasons:

    1) I am aiming for a fall marathon, and I am a bit concerned about the risk of injury doing something stupid while muddy and running through trails, etc.

    2) This particular race (Run A Muck) struck me as a bit unsafe last year. I only saw volunteers and personnel three times along the 5k course. Once at a water stop that was maybe 3/4 of a mile in (it was the only water stop), a few volunteers and paramedics at the most dangerous obstacle (a rope ladder climb thing), and once at a rope/bridge crossing. Otherwise there was no one out there but the runners and the signage indicating where we should go. My biggest concern was what we would have done if we found someone hurt on the course. There were no indications of where to find help, and we’re on a trail in the woods. What if someone had twisted their ankle? Or fallen and hit their head?

    I might just be getting older and more risk averse, but it’s a serious concern for me. I think if I do sign up for the race again I am going to email the race organizers first and inquire about my safety concerns. I’ll also probably skip the rope climb if it is up again this year-I didn’t feel like it was secured well, the obstacle was severely bottlenecked, and frankly with big race goals for this fall it’s not worth twisting my ankle or angering my knees over a stupid obstacle.

    I also might look into a Savage Race or something else instead of Run A Muck…the lack of volunteer presence and only one water stop (at not even 1 mile in!) makes me think the Run A Muck organizers aren’t as on top of safety as they should be.

  • Beth @ 990 Square April 19, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I’m signed up for my first obstacle race the first weekend in May–The Expedition Everest Challenge at Walt Disney World. However, I consider this to be a “light” obstacle race, since it’s kid and walker friendly, and there’s an easy out for an obstacle you don’t want to do (and from previous years race reports, they’re pretty tame). I don’t know if I would feel safe doing another type of race, and frankly I don’t like mud enough to even think about a mud run!

  • Catalina @ Cake with Love April 19, 2012, 2:14 pm

    I have registered last year for the Warrior Dash obstacle rate but I dropped at the last minute because I felt very unsafe to do the race! This is very sad to find out that actually somebody died during a race like this!

  • Kate April 19, 2012, 2:18 pm

    This is such a good article Kaitlin. I did an “Adventure Race” last summer. I enjoyed it and I would do it again but the organizers did not take the same precautions that the Savage Race organizer mentioned. It was chaotic. The people who ran the race do a lot of races in the area but this was their first attempt at an Adventure Race. The obstacles weren’t planned well, there was a lot of bottlenecking at the obstacles (which made people feel like they needed to rush through the obstacles once it was finally their turn) and a lot of people did injure themselves. And, problematically, they didn’t have enough people on the course to assist those people. At one point, we had to army crawl through a mud pit and then go directly to climb up a steep hill only using a rope. The mud was thicker than most mud courses that I’ve seen, so the entire rope was coated in mud and your shoe soles were covered in mud. It’s like they were asking for a problem. I’m hoping that they fix the problems for next year but I’m not entirely sure that I would participate in that race again.

  • Janene April 19, 2012, 2:21 pm

    I’ve done one obstacle race, the Warrior Dash, and while it was fun, I don’t really plan on doing one again. I enjoy racing to push myself, and that’s not to say that I don’t also do road races “for fun,” i.e., not expecting to PR. Although I definitely had fun with my friends, I didn’t get that post-race high like other races, and they just cost too much for my taste. I’d rather put that $ toward another half or full marathon! 🙂

    Just my two cents, though.

  • TiffanyS April 19, 2012, 2:22 pm

    I did my first one in MN last summer called Go Commando. We did it as a ‘fun’ race with no expectations, and a few of my team stuck together to do the obstacles. It was a complete blast! How often do you get to go all out and play in the mud? I did wipe out on the tire obstacle, and the volunteer said I was the first one to do it of the day. But, I jumped up and proceeded to leap over some burning logs. I rode an adrenaline high for days after that. I felt so proud of myself for accomplishing so many things I never imagined doing. I just signed up to do it again, and the Dirty Girl race in August. I totally felt safe, and I didn’t race to the point of making senseless decisions. So I echo to slow down and enjoy the sites and experiences. I also would bring a cooler with an ice pack and a first aid kit just in case. Just like with a long run where I’d ice and put on compression, I would do this for the ride home. Plus, with the mud some minor scrapes might appear after you get hosed off. I wasn’t worried about germs at all. I did go in one of the very first waves, and the course wasn’t too torn up. So, that is another bit of advice to start early in the day if you can. Hydrate and fuel properly. It was pretty hot at my race, and there was only one water station for the 5K. Plus, a lot of these have beer afterwards for the party. So, just be responsible and no your own limits and bring what you need for you and have fun!

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 4:55 pm

      Good tips! Glad you had fun 🙂

  • Army Amy* April 19, 2012, 2:22 pm

    I wondered if this post was going to be about Tony Weathers. (It’s been all over the news here in Texas.)

    I participated in Warrior Dash two years ago, and I felt very safe. There was a swimming portion, but it wasn’t chaotic or crowded at all taller people (like my husband) were able to easily walk through it, and there was a life guard present. The only scary part was jumping over fire. I wonder how many people were injured during that portion.*

  • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots April 19, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I did the Warrior Dash last year, and I felt relatively safe because I took it slow, skipped obstacles that I didn’t feel comfortable with and had a group of three others to help me through. Even with that, I mildly sprained my ankle, got plywood burn on my arms (I had to slide down an obstacle I couldn’t complete) and had enough scratches and scrapes on my legs that I had to purchase makeup to cover my legs when I went to a funeral the next weekend.

    There were also few times when I was up on an obstacle that I had a, “Holy hell. If I fall, I could seriously injure myself.”

    But I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for it. So I think just as long as you understand that and take it seriously, it’s no more safe or unsafe than any other “extreme” activity. The scrapes and bruises were worth it for an unforgettable race with my friends. 🙂

    Oh, and if anyone wants to know my tips for what to pack and how to get through your mud race, I posted some:

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 4:59 pm

      Awesome post!

  • Janene April 19, 2012, 2:24 pm

    Another side I’ve been curious about: I wonder what’s the environmental impact of these races? As an environmental studies student and outdoor educator, I just kept thinking about how we were DESTROYING some of those hills… hundreds if not thousands of people tearing through mud? Eek!

  • Sara April 19, 2012, 2:29 pm

    I did an obstacle course/mud run last year and I am not going to lie it was not my thing. It had rained the night before so it was mud up past my ankles for most of the course and not just for a few parts. The extra mud made some of the obstacles completely unsafe (in my opinion). I decided to skip one of them because I really didn’t think it was safe! Also my husband and many others got a nasty rash from the still water. I think for some it can be fun but you really have to pick the right course and the right program!

  • Whitney April 19, 2012, 2:31 pm

    I’ve done the Warrior Dash in Charlotte last August and it was HARD and HOT!! I can definitely see where people get in trouble with these kind of races. I felt like the Warrior Dash was well staffed with water and medical personnel throughout the course. Since I’ve done one I don’t feel the need to do another one. I’d much rather stick to my marathons and I was scared the whole time I was going to get hurt and not be able to run like I most enjoy doing. 🙂

  • Lydia April 19, 2012, 2:32 pm

    I’ve decided, in my short racing career, that I’m just not into races put on for profit. All of the 5K races I’ve done have benefited charities. The half marathon may have been for-profit, but was put on by a local group who maintains constant contact with the registrants via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. I know people who respect and trust the race director (and it was a wonderful event).

    I can’t help but think that these sorts of obstacle races aren’t anything but a money grab – cashing in on a popular trend. Are they really out to help individuals conquer their goals and help them have a good time or are they out to make as much money as they can? That may be an incredibly cynical point of view, but I’ve always felt a bit icky about for-profit races. Look at some of the RnR road race disasters over the past year or so.

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:00 pm

      RnR races have been quite the disaster, haven’t they?

  • Molly April 19, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I read about one of those races literally electrocuting people. Um, how is that “athletic” at all?

    I’ve done marathons, triathlons, AND adventure races, but I have no desire to do an obstacle course-style race. Just not my thing.

    • Laura is Undeterrable April 19, 2012, 5:06 pm

      That is what bothers me about tough mudders. Scale fences? Ok, that takes strength, skill, and strategy. The wires are just ridiculous.

  • Jennifer April 19, 2012, 2:33 pm

    My friends have started a Women’s only MudRun, Lozilu…
    It definitely has a different mentality than a lot of the macho races that encourages women to reach past their self imposed limits. They also provide training programs and also have different levels of barriers to challenge all levels.

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:00 pm

      That’s a different take on it – I like!

  • abbi April 19, 2012, 2:36 pm

    I would never do one of these because they seem way too commercial and manufactured to me (recently posted something about my take on them). They are marketed to the masses and honestly I think that’s why people get injured. Weekend warriors are tackling them, not people who typically train and work hard to prepare for physical and endurance events. The marketing of them turns me off and while I love events that test my limits, I’ll do something a bit more natural and less commercial.

  • Emily April 19, 2012, 2:41 pm

    I just dropped out of doing the Tough Mudder race in VT in two weeks. I paid over $100 to register almost a year ago but as the date approaches, my fitness is not in a place where I would feel comfortable attempting it.

    I waffled back and forth for weeks before finally letting my team know. Even though it’s the right decision, I still feel terrible for bowing out.

  • Marissa C April 19, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Great post Caitlin! I knew you would come up with something great!

  • Jen April 19, 2012, 2:45 pm

    I did the Warrior Dash with my husband and friend two years ago. Since the course was set up basically on the side of a mountain we all agree to have fun, but not push the limits. Going up the mountain we had to stop and walk, we took obstacles at our own pace along people to pass us when necessary, and just general tried to have fun amongst ourselves. We definitely knew going into it was for fun, not for a time on the clock.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 19, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I’ve never done an obstacle race, but I really want to! Granted, I would do it purely for fun with zero intention of a good time, which I think would help me focus more on safety than speed!

  • Hillary April 19, 2012, 2:48 pm

    Knowing myself, I could never complete an obstacle race without some kind of injury. I can barely walk around my house without bumping into things! Like you said, as long as people are smart, they should be fine, but these kinds of events do freak me out a bit.

  • Briana April 19, 2012, 3:00 pm

    I did an obstacle race and walked away with a bloody elbow. It was alright, just goofed off with friends during the whole thing, but I wouldn’t do it again. I can spend $60 on something much better.

    It makes me so sad to hear about a seemingly fit man dying at a race. Reading this post got me thinking to something I recently discussed with a running buddy- We’ve all heard how people have dropped dead after a marathon, triathlon, etc. I am a firm believer that race registration needs to be more strict. I lived in Germany for a while and some race companies require that a doctor sign off on your registration saying that you are fit enough, have had a physical recently, etc. Even if you just had to educate yourself by reading and then passing a quick 10-question quiz while signing up would make a huge difference.I know most registrations have a waiver, but do you sit and read the ENTIRE thing? Do you understand the potential risks? Race registration is increasing each year, which leads me to believe there are several under-trained or unfit people racing, and that worries me. I understand this is a little beside the point, but I feel there must be others who agree with me. I’m no expert at all and I feel there are plenty of things I don’t know and could benefit to learn from if I checked with my doctor first.

    Anyways, I feel so sorry for this poor man and his family, it really makes me upset and forces me to answer the question you posed here as no, these races are not safe or worth it.

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:01 pm

      Interesting thought about the doctor waiver or at least a questionnaire. I know USAT has bounced around the idea of making people pass a swim test.

  • Kayla @ The Best Things April 19, 2012, 3:02 pm

    My brother is doing the Tough Mudder and he wanted me to join. As a professional actor, I can’t risk hurting myself while under contract (we sign things saying we won’t take extraordinary risks) so I had to decline. But after watching the trailer video for the race and seeing some clips of people hobbling off the course.. it looks to me like that’s actually one of their advertising ploys.. “we;re so intense people get hurt in our races!” WTF? pass, thanks. My body is too important for that type of risk.

  • Jessie B. April 19, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I love this post! I did a small mud run in souther NJ and I was not very happy with it…not because I didn’t like the challenges, but because it seemed like they were trying to be too “tough”. It wasn’t safe and, I’m sorry, if you are going to have LOTS of water and swiming in NJ in NOVEMBER people should be better warned (saw a guy going into shock because he was so cold and the medics were not close enough to help him). That said – I have signed up for a Tough Mudder this summer. It will be longer and more challenges, but I know I handle freezing water better in July than November and I know this event will be better managed. I still love the mud runs, I’m just going with the one’s that are well established.

  • Adam April 19, 2012, 3:07 pm

    You’ve never done an obstacle race…why do you feel qualified to give advice on them?

  • Leigh April 19, 2012, 3:08 pm

    I did Tough Mudder about a year and half ago. It was tons of fun. But I did it with friends, raised money for charity and truly took it as a team event. Everyone helping everyone else. That part was great to see. Mine was in a race track area so all the “hills/mtns” were for dirt bikes and built up on dirt bike hills.

    I will say the water part was the scariest. I think a lot of times people think they can swim but don’t realize that it’s a totally different story when the water you jump into is so cold it takes your breath away AND you’re wearing clothes and sneakers. I wasn’t worried for myself, but I played water polo and was a lifeguard so I’ve done swimming with clothes on and being grabbed at. That being said I did have to help one or two grown men over their fear of the water once they were in there already. I think people sometimes just underestimate what it’s really going to be like.

  • Rachel April 19, 2012, 3:15 pm

    I’ve done one obstacle race in my life, and I don’t plan on doing another one. The course I wound up running had a bunch of rain leading up to the race, so the whole course wound up being even more muddy/slippery/dangerous than originally planned. I can’t tell you how many times I slipped/fell/twisted my ankle on the course.

    There was supposed to be a “waist-high” water section where we had to go over and under large floating tree trunks. Well, due to the rain, I couldn’t even reach the bottom without my head going under! Obviously, NOT waist deep at all. I wound up swimming across the area, with heavy, soaked sneakers on.

    It was supposed to be a fun thing to do with my group of friends, but everyone wound up getting some kind of burst of energy/competitiveness that I didn’t have, so most of the pack took off without me and I was left alone, in the back, feeling crappy about my lack of “speed”. I don’t know why everyone else was in such a rush.

    So, in closing, not the best experience of my life!

  • Angela April 19, 2012, 3:18 pm

    It’s interesting to see the stats about most people dying from heart attacks. There is a debate going on right now in the UK/Europe about health screening for young athletes because recently a footballer collapsed during a match and was technically dead for almost 40 minutes and an Italian footballer died during another match. It really goes to show that just because you exercise and eat well your body can’t always handle what you put it through.

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:05 pm

      OMG Wasn’t that horrible? It really upset the Hus and I.

  • Amelia April 19, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I’m so glad you posted about this! I did an obstacle course race last year and had several instances where I was concerned about safety. In particular, there were two walls that you had to climb up one side and…drop. At the top of the wall was about 7 feet up and just a sheer drop down the other side. There were no volunteers anywhere around and no foam or padding on the other side. While doing it I tried to block out the risk factor, but later I couldn’t help thinking about what would have happened had my foot caught on the top of the wall and if I had fallen head first.

    There were definitely fun challenges to the obstacle course (mine was Rugged Maniac), but I’m really not sure if I want to do one again.

    I would encourage people to skip obstacles that seem unsafe. You’ll be less stressed out and enjoy yourself more!

  • Jamie April 19, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote about this! I did Warrior Dash New England last year and although it was fun, I had a lot of concerns. It was SO, SO, SO muddy. Yes, I obviously expected the mud but I didn’t realize that half the time I would be almost knee deep in mud. I hurt my ankle because my foot got stuck in the mud and it twisted the wrong way. One of my friends had to get stitches because he fell on a rock that was hidden by the mud.

    There were very few volunteers/medical personnel throughout the course. Some of the obstacles didn’t have any supervision! Thank goodness I wasn’t severely hurt (my ankle didn’t start bothering me until after the race, strangely enough) but what if I got seriously hurt? How long would it be until someone could reach me?

    So many of my friends want to sign up for these races and don’t realize that it is still a physical challenge, even though it’s not an actual road race. One of my friends who has explicitly told me many times that “she doesn’t run” wants to do The Color Run. I told her it’s still pretty physical and she needed to train and she actually said “Well it’s not a real race!” Err… yes it is! I’d say it’s even harder than a “real race” since you’re running in an outdoor sports park and not on a road.

    I think as long as people are smart, train well, and know their limitations and what they’re getting into, these races can be very fun.

    Anyway, this is my long way of saying I agree with you!

    • Susan April 19, 2012, 4:11 pm

      I think that the New England one is the one I almost signed up for. Ended up missing the registration for the good times, did the BAA 10K instead. Definitely right choice – I heard some people smelled waste in the mud in that race! Not human, animal, washed in from storms.

  • Michelle April 19, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I’m glad you wrote a post about this. My brother actually participated in the race where the man died. He didn’t even know about what happened until the next day when it hit the news. I’d add two more suggestions to your list:
    1) Make sure people know you’re running, and expect you to check in afterwards. It was the man’s family (who accompanied him to the race) who noticed his disappearance, not the race officials.
    2) Make sure you choose your race well. This was the first year this race was run, and my brother said it was chaotic. At the start, people started running the wrong way because it wasn’t clear where they were supposed to go. My brother ended up running the full 10K because he couldn’t find the turn around for the 5K. He also said that there were few staffers and most seemed uninformed. I’d avoid any obstacle race in it’s first year, and look at reviews for past years for any race you do consider.

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:07 pm

      Very good tips, Michelle.

  • Kath April 19, 2012, 3:39 pm

    Rememeber that when mud dries our bodies cannot
    Sweat. In know of a young healthy male who died in my area during a race like these because of the dried mud. It was 100degrees outside and they still didnt cancel the race. They only shut it down after the hospital called a race coordinator and complained. So sad!

  • Sarah R April 19, 2012, 3:47 pm

    I did a Warrior Dash event last May, and will be doing it again this May. My athletic history – I did basketball and softball competitively growing up. I have done 5, 8 and 10k’s, and am currently training for my first half marathon on April 29th. I’ve done two triathlons, and am signed up for my first half ironman this year. I think it’s fair to say that I enjoy being active and pushing myself.

    A warrior dash, in my mind, is not the time to go all out. It’s a time to enjoy getting down and dirty, enjoy being with friends and completing obstacles together. You are there for the experience, not the time on the clock. Take your time. You will slip, you will fall, you will probably get some scrapes and bruises for your efforts. You may or may not be able to do all the obstacles. Thats OK. Go out and have fun! Be aware of people around you and don’t be a dick. And enjoy the heck out of finishing all dirty and muddy, and drinking the beer at the end!

  • TeenyLittleSuperChef April 19, 2012, 3:49 pm

    I’m with you, I probably wouldn’t want to compete in one of these either as I am incredibl klutzy and I know a broken bone and tons of bruises would be involved. They seem pretty fun though. I hate to admit this, but seeing the girls from Real Housewives of Orange County compete in a Mud Run really made me want to get involved. Sad but true. Hey, if those prissy b*tches can do it, so can I!

    • Sara April 19, 2012, 5:02 pm

      I saw that too, but out of the 6 people competing 2 were injured. That kind of scared me away even more especially that guy’s pinkie!

  • Lekki Wood April 19, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I recently did the Tough Mudder race – the temperature (23 degrees) made it especially challenging. I would say:
    -Make sure you train properly for these things (temp / distance / balance). If you get behind in your training plan: don’t do it!
    -To do this you have to read up A LOT on what the race entails. Don’t just ‘wing’ it on the day. Make sure you read blogs so you get an idea of what the emotional experience is like.
    -Avoid obstacles you don’t feel ready for – even if it is a spur of the moment decision. You can always come back next year!

    Those were the biggies – I did it in a team and we individually chose to do anything from all to about 30% of the obstacles. We were ALL glad we did it.

    I would hate to discourage people from doing these things as I loved it, but everyone must be sensible…

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:08 pm

      This is really good advice, Lekki, esp to read up on the obstacles in advance.

    • John Reichwein September 11, 2013, 11:37 am

      I am doing a Savage Mudder this Saturday at 9am. It is going to be in the 40’s up in the mountains of Pa. I am considering a wetsuit. What did people wear for 28 degrees. Thanks so much. This is a big issue. Thanks, John

  • Samantha April 19, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Many more people have died during ski trips, marathons and other outdoor activities because there is a risk associated with ALL of them. Its important to look at the potential for injury (or worse) in an physical sport not just “adventure races”.

    Maybe a more timely piece to have written would have been the decision to run (or not run) the Boston Marathon this past Monday in 90F temps, as I think there is some valid discussion there. And as someone who can talk about your running experience but who has never done one of these I would have appreciated your feedback that much more.

    • Lauren April 19, 2012, 4:44 pm

      I agree!

  • Ashley April 19, 2012, 4:36 pm

    My Hubby just did the Tough Mudder against my advice. Why did he want to pay $150 to do this I have no idea. He made it through fine and without injury, but I told him he’s not allowed to do it again. Being an ER nurse in the area, we saw multiple people treated for injuries and hypothermia. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

  • Lauren April 19, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Maybe I’m coming off as a snob here, but if you don’t know how to swim, don’t try to compete in any sort of race that involves a lot of water. Or at least skip the water obstacle(s). Personally, I can’t swim. At all. So logically, I’d never sign up for a triathlon unless I learned how to swim, had a friend compete with me, got plenty of practice in open water (or conditions that simulate the race day environment), and took the necessary precautions beforehand (like hanging back with the rest of the swimmers who aren’t going for time, telling lifeguards I was a little inexperienced, etc).

    In my opinion, mud runs aren’t for everyone. They’re fun as all heck, but if you are faint of heart or don’t know if you could complete it without an injury, then don’t sign up. You have to sign a waiver beforehand and need to know what you’re signing up for. Read the small print. There are risks with any kind of race, from a 5k to a marathon, so when it comes to a mud race involving fire/barbed wire/climbing big things, use your head. Remember that the most important thing during an adventure race is to stay safe and only do what you’re comfortable with. If you’re smart enough to know your limits, you’ll skip the obstacles that you aren’t sure you can handle. I competed in the Rugged Maniac last year and had no problem walking around a 12 foot wall climb. I simply didn’t have it in me that morning and didn’t want to risk an injury. Anyway, I believe that the event itself is about having fun with your teammates, getting muddy, and drinking free beer afterwards, not being “the best.”

    In the end, my heart does go out to the family and friends of Tony Weathers. Whether he had an underlying health condition, was trampled or involved in a freak accident, or whatever else happened, it sucks. But as horrible as his death was, maybe this will shed light on the fact that people should know their limits and pre-existing conditions before signing up for things.

    • Caitlin April 19, 2012, 5:09 pm

      Haha I don’t think you are a snob for saying that people who can’t swim shouldn’t do open water events 😉

      I agree with your last paragraph… it really is SO sad.

      • Lauren April 19, 2012, 5:29 pm

        Oh shit, I just realized how that sounded. I was not insulting you!!! I’d have a panic attack too in open water.

  • Katie @ cooklaughmove April 19, 2012, 4:52 pm

    I’ve never done an obstacle event, but I was running a small town 5k, when a runner in front of me was hit by a car backing out of their driveway!

    It totally freaked me out and I had a mini-panic attack. The man who got hit was okay (he finished the race ahead of me!) but the driver was a total jerk, he rolled his window down, yelled at the man and said something about runner’s being allowed on roads and sped off.

  • Sara April 19, 2012, 4:59 pm

    I’m pretty opinionated that I would NEVER do a mudder or obstacle type event. If I want to get muddy there are plenty of trails out there I can go run on and NOT pay a super-inflated race price of $100 or MORE! Secondly my sister is a nurse and a guy who did one of these events came in with a bad staph infection on his leg (he had a cut and the mud contained bacteria). It was so bad they were considering amputation if things didn’t get better (the anti-biotics were not working!) I feel there are so many gimmicky races out there that charge such high prices and it really annoys me. My favorite races are nice and small and are not looking to solely make mucho money ($35 for a half marathon? Don’t mind if I do!)

    • Amy Q April 19, 2012, 5:28 pm

      Holy mackerel! That is scary about the mud infected leg!

    • Kari @ human, MD April 19, 2012, 6:28 pm

      I just completed a Tough Mudder, and when I signed up I thought the price was pretty ridiculous. But after completing the race and seeing all the logistics that are involved, I get why they charge so much. It takes tons of planning to find a course that will work, they have to haul all the obstacles in, set them all up days before, find a place for everyone to park and then they bus people from the parking lot to the race site. It’s a huge production. I LOVED it and would do one again in a heart beat. I definitely got banged up and have a lot of bruises, and certainly I’m sure some people had more significant injuries. But that’s a known risk, and a measure of your fitness to a certain extent also. And people on my team definitely skipped obstacles they didn’t feel comfortable with. I felt like te atmosphere was one of friendly teamwork and not a competition… everyone wanted to make sure you got through and got through safely.

  • Laura is Undeterrable April 19, 2012, 5:01 pm

    I have done 1 obstacle race, and I felt very safe. The only obstacles that were “mandatory” were a couple of stream crossings, only because you couldn’t simply walk around it. Everything else could be skipped if someone didn’t feel up to it.

    I ended up with a little rope burn on my inner thighs which was exacerbated by all the running and went to the med tent afterwards to get some vaseline. I was surprised at all the documentation they took. They wanted to know what obstacle, what happened, etc etc. There were other people there, a couple of twisted ankles and lots of torn up hands from all the rope. I’m glad they were talking lots of notes of the kinds of things that were happening so that maybe they could be lessened the next year. However, my thought is that I shouldn’t have worn short shorts and I should have brought gloves. I knew there was rope, I didn’t plan right. Not their fault.

    I think obstacle courses are fine. You just have to be an adult, prepare yourself, and bow out if you need to.

  • Lisa April 19, 2012, 5:17 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about his death, that is so tragic and sad. I’ve never done an obstacle races, but I did run Hood to Coast a few years ago. Every few years or so there’s an accident, or heart attack. One girl was hit by a car.

    One of the main reasons I haven’t tried a tri yet is the swimming part. Swimming is my sport, my strength. I’m a really strong swimmer and fast, but I don’t want to get in the water with a bunch of people potentially swimming on top of me, or running into me. Does not sound fun or safe!

  • Amy Q April 19, 2012, 5:27 pm

    I think there enough hazards and challenges in regular races! I don’t need to jump mud or fire to prove I’m tough! I already know I am! I I like your part about being tough enough to know when it’s not right for you. 🙂

  • Rebecca April 19, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Given my track record of failing at the obstacle course in Gym class in elementary school, it’s not likely I’ll ever sign up for something like this, lol. The obstacle course was my favorite, but I’m slow and kinda klutzy at it. Same went for hurdles–I enjoyed trying to jump them, but I wasn’t the best/fastest at it. Go figure.
    My dad’s talked about doing some of these kinds of races (Warrior Dash particularly), but I’m not sure he’ll sign up for one just yet. Part of it is location and money, I think, and part of it is probably the safety factor.

  • Sandy April 19, 2012, 6:18 pm

    I have done the Fort Worth original mud run twice. I am in pretty good shape, but not hard core fitness level. I am pg right now, or probably would have done the same one this year. We ran the noncompetitive group because we did not want to wear “boots and utes”. We found out if we actually would have competed we could have made 3rd place female team or 17th female out of like 2000, so while we’re not really fast, we are good at the obstacles.

    In the two times I did it, we did NOT have to cross the Trinity. There was one under/over water hole where you go under a log on top of water and then go over the next one—I did not like that very much.

    There were times I felt a little unsafe, because I don’t like heights and the giants ladder and cargo net, I know I could have fallen, but that was a risk of the race.

    I would never run one without being with a friend the whole time who I know is right beside me to notify if something happens or help me out.

  • Katie April 19, 2012, 6:36 pm

    I did the warrior dash last year in the Rocky Mountains. It was way more difficult than my normal 5k because it was at 9000 ft elevation and involved running up the side of a ski hill as one the obstacles. It was a lot of fun but I had the same thoughts throughout the whole thing about safety. The second to last obstacle was this 20 ft high wall you had to run up and pull yourself over the top with a knotted rope. I saw some girl lose her footing and fall down the entire thing. My biggest complaint was that there was only one water station. I know that’s normal for a 5k but when you are at elevation and doing these obstacles, it seems like there should have been at least 2. After I ran through the mud I was DYING for water and the station wasn’t until 3/4 of the way through. I was so dehydrated by the end that when I jumped over the fire logs, my calves cramped up really badly and I almost fell into the fire!

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) April 19, 2012, 7:03 pm

    I’ve done the Camp Pendleton Mud 10K Run and will not do another mud race if I can help it. It was certainly worth trying, though! I had a good time and stayed safe (ran with my boyfriend and approached obstacles cautiously), but I did end up with bumps and scrapes and had to throw out my contacts immediately. When all was said and done, I don’t really see the appeal of these events and would definitely rather take my chances in a road race.

  • Sara April 19, 2012, 7:08 pm

    I did the Warrior Dash & Rugged Maniac, and they were a blast! I felt like I was safe throughout the whole event. However, with both these races, we did not have to swim across a lake. I am already signed up for the Maniac, can’t wait! They really are a lot of fun, just need to be careful. The Warrior Dash, we were in mud up to our knees at time. Had the “Dash Rash” for weeks, lol!

  • Sarah April 19, 2012, 7:22 pm

    I’m thinking of signing up to one of these with my fitness group. You’ve given me food for thought.

  • Megan S April 19, 2012, 7:31 pm

    Im legitimately embarrassed to know that The Real Housewives of Orange County just did one of these and 2 out of 6 got injured. Thank you for giving me a less embarrassing source to cite to
    My friends when declining to sign up for mud runs!

  • Earthy Nicole April 19, 2012, 8:03 pm

    This is so interesting. I hadn’t heard about that man dying recently and it’s probably a good wake up call for participants. I did the Warrior Dash last year and I felt comfortable in my ability to complete the race but I admit there was one height obstacle I didn’t feel safe finishing. So many people were running up behind me and jumping onto the net and climbing up around me, I just didn’t feel safe. There were staff right there but had I been seriously hurt, it wouldn’t have been just the race I’d be out of, I do have a little girl I’m responsible for and I just didn’t think it was worth it. I still finished the race and had plenty of fun, I just knew my limits. I did have tons of bruises, scrapes, and pain afterwards despite opting out of one obstacle anyways!

    I really think the most important part of any activity, whether it’s in a race or by yourself, is to listen to your body and trust your instincts. There’s just nothing worth risking your life over.

  • Anna D April 19, 2012, 8:49 pm

    It’s not even JUST these obstacle types of races that aren’t safe. Fran Crippen, a renowned professional swimmer, passed away in an FINA run open water race about two years ago.
    There needs to be better monitoring in all races that involve open water, from professional to amateur.
    Thank you for this informing article, Caitlin!

  • Claire April 19, 2012, 8:56 pm

    I would never participate in one as I’m a total klutz and a bit of a scaredy cat too. I know my limits. Plus I have an ankle that has been rolled so many times over the years that it is completely hopeless and I roll it all the time. In fact I rolled it on sunday running on grass in a half marathon and have had to take 4 days off to recover (I stupudly kept running and finished the race when I really should have stopped). To each their own though!

  • Emily April 19, 2012, 9:10 pm

    I did Warrior Dash last September and I was completely not mentally prepared for how many 15+ foot walls there would be (I’m scared of heights). I completely freaked out on the first one. One of the volunteers stationed at the obstacle had to climb up and help guide me down. Then, I stupidly tried to scale a 90-degree wall that had nothing but a rope to help you get up. No incline, no skid tape, nothing. I ended up getting to the top and before I could throw myself over on the other side I slipped and slide down the wall. Thankfully, I was strong enough to ease myself down, but I still got a pretty good friction burn. What freaked me out even more was after I fell down the wall I realized there were no volunteers stationed at that obstacle. What were those race organizers thinking? I don’t know, but I’m just glad I got out unscathed!

    After finishing the race, I realized, while the thought of doing it once was fun, I wasn’t in any hurry to do any more obstacle races in the near future!!

  • Maddie April 19, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Caitlin, this post couldn’t have come at a better time! My cousin and I are thinking about signing up for a Spartan Race, which I believe is shorter than the races you mentioned. After reading this post I think it’s fair to say that I won’t be racing for time, but instead just to have fun and finish. Thanks!

  • Eve April 19, 2012, 9:28 pm

    Recently I’ve been looking into these types of races a bit more, because I thought they looked fun. For me, I think it would be about showing up and struggling with some of the more intense obstacles, but having fun while doing it! However, I didn’t realize until a couple days ago that there were electrical obstacles where you basically can’t avoid being electrocuted/shocked – I can’t imagine why people think that is a good idea – I’ve shocked myself on uncovered household wires 3 times in my life and it is a very, very scary experience that I have NO desire to EVER repeat! My $0.02!

  • Jacalyn April 19, 2012, 9:39 pm

    I have done a few, but only with my husband. I like having him as a safety for me since he is strong. We always race in the first heat since we know not a lot of people like to get up early to race. They are fun, but challenging. Definitely not something to do if you have absolutely no strength.

  • LizP April 19, 2012, 9:42 pm

    I’ve done Rugged Maniac, Zombie Run, and Warrior Dash all 5k adventure races in Virginia/Maryland within the past year.

    Injuries/Issues I personally witnessed:
    * A large gushing cut on a guy at the zombie run (no clue how he got it other than on an obstacle)
    * A women fell off the top of one of walls (10 feet up) and landed on her back, requiring emergency transportation (very scary to witness, let alone experience, luckily EMTs were there at that obstacle) at warrior dash
    *Also at warrior dash, due to recent flooding, the river cross which was supposed to be only waist high was up to my chin (I’m 5’5). My friend that did the race with me was not a strong swimmer and I basically treaded across while keeping her head above water (i am a very strong swimmer so it was no issue for me). But, as we were crossing 2 other people had to be saved by lifeguards

    -As many other people said, do it for fun not for time
    -Go in an earlier heat as in before noon, so you don’t experience obstacles that are worn down/muddy as well as the sun isn’t nearly as bad
    -Always race these type of races with a buddy and stick with them! My friend would never have made it across the water without me (and there was no way to go around the river obstacle)
    -Costumes are encouraged at many of these events but don’t wear anything that will affect your eyesight (eye patches, etc) or the grip on your shoes.
    -Bring a change of clothes so you aren’t sitting in muddy, wet clothes for the ride home (hello lady parts issues!)

    I love obstacle races despite everything I’ve seen, and plan to do them in the future, but I always let my gut decide what is best on each obstacle.

  • Michelle April 20, 2012, 11:40 am

    I think the popularity is a double edged sword. One the plus side – hooray! Its POPULAR to run and complete obstacle courses and be fit! Thats awesome!! On the down side – its a money making world and some of these are probably cutting safety corners to make more money. I had a group of friends do the Tough Mudder and I thought they were out of their minds! But they knew exactly what they were getting into and the TM has no timing and no “placing” so there was no pressure on the day of to push saftey limits in the name of performance. Also, they said that the amount of help lining the race and manning each obstacle was just insane – they said it was almost over the top b/c they felt like it was almost too baby-ing. While I’d never run it (electro-shock?! No thank you!) they had a great time, raised money for a charity and formed a great workout group… and they signed up for round two later this year. 🙂

  • Sandra April 20, 2012, 2:29 pm

    I’ve completed different road races as well as a 10k mud run and a Tough Mudder and my best piece of advice is: be smart. Research the event, train, prepare, pick your teammates wisely, and tackle the obstacles safely. You have a choice. Life is all about risks and rewards.

  • Kerry April 20, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Last year I did Warrior Dash New England. A day or two before the race, we experienced severe rains which kind of completely flooded the course. We all ran it anyway and a lot of people, myself included, ended up with poison ivy. It was my first experience with it and since my whole body was covered in poison ivy-laden mud after the race, it was bad. I had it for about 6 weeks. This pales in comparison to other negative results, but I’ll never do it again!

    • Sara April 21, 2012, 11:13 pm

      Hi Kerry,

      I also ran the Warrior Dash New England, I had the “dash rash” for weeks too, although it did not look like poison ivy and it was all over my ankles. As much has that sucked, it was still a fun day! I don’t know that I would ever do it again at that location, but from what I heard they are not doing it there this year.

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope April 21, 2012, 5:32 pm

    I speak from experience now as this morning, my fiancé and a handful of people from our CrossFit box completed a 5k Mud Crusade. All I can say is that it was the MOST FUN race I have ever done and I plan to more!!!!! It was my fiancé’s first race of any kind, and he LOVED IT!!!!!

    • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope April 22, 2012, 12:02 pm

      I wanted to add that I did not feel unsafe at all during the race as there were plenty of people around to offer help in scaling the walls, and ALWAYS the option to go around a course…people just need to use their brain and leave their egos at the start line!

  • Meghan May 15, 2012, 3:01 pm

    I know I’m late to the party but I somehow missed this post! May 5 was the second year in a row that I participated in Rugged Maniac and I plan to continue every year. I feel like it’s well organized and very safe; there are volunteers at all of the obstacles you would expect someone to have trouble with, ample water at break stations and the end of the race, and no open water swimming.

    I ran with two other girls both years and each year we ran for fun, not to PR. This year’s race was considerably harder than the first and we took our time and had a blast – you just can’t get it in your head you have to finish for time, and BE CAREFUL! Don’t participate in a race where the obstacles are mandatory – if you really can’t climb a 12 foot wall, what’s the fun in being forced to?

  • Jillian @ Reshape Your Life May 16, 2012, 1:59 pm

    I ran in the Warrior Dash in Conroe last year and it was a blast. I didn’t feel unsafe, although I didn’t find the course all that difficult either. My husband’s 74 year old father walked the course and did all the obstacles too! It felt like a very safe event, although it was hot, there were water stations and the only real water obstacle was shallow enough that 5’3″ me could walk across and the water was barely chest high. The most dangerous obstacle was probably the net obstacle that was about 8 feet high at the top but there were volunteers at the top and bottom on each side to help you if you needed help.

    It felt like a very safe race, although I did hear of someone getting sick during the race in the mud pit (ick!) at the end, but they did keep re-filling it with more water and dirt. I didn’t get any cuts or anything, just some red knees from the few crawling obstacles… It was a blast and I would consider doing another one, definitely!

  • jesscia kruse May 16, 2012, 9:40 pm

    I have ran two half marathon ands one full. Recently i did a warrior dash. Although i did get some pretty cool pics from the event i would have to say the entire thing was pretty much a joke. To many people racing at once, to many slow people and the course was not wide enough. The obstacles were not much of a challenge. The big challenge was helping my boyfriend recover from blood posioning from a severe staph infection he acquired during this race. He was hospitalized and at one point they were considering amputation! I don’t think i would recommend these events to anyone. They are nothing to brag about and can threaten your health. Stick to reg races and cross training!

    • CaitlinHTP May 16, 2012, 9:41 pm

      your poor boyfriend 🙁

  • yournamehere May 22, 2012, 11:02 am

    I run these races all year (except the hottest summer months). These races are dangerous, some more than others. One of the comments was “are the participants informed of the danger”, and the answer is YES. Every single one of these races has a waiver that states you are responsible for yourself including physical damage, cuts, breaks, bruises, burns, and even death! If that’s not a fair warning I don’t know what is.

    These races include heights up to 40 foot falls while climbing nets, extremely steep inclines while carrying heavy loads, water obstacles to navigate over, under, around and often in depths above our heads, 15 foot jumps into the water. They use these attributes in their advertisement, it’s no secret that its dangerous.

    If you are not a good swimmer, you should exercise some common sense and go around that obstacle, if you can’t go around it, quit the race or take a floation device.

    These people blaming the race organizers for accidents sound like the same people that blame mcdonalds for serving hot coffee that we spill in our laps. Ridiculous, use your own head and take some responsibility for yourself.

    I’ve had 2 staph infections from races this year, I sure would feel stupid calling the race promoters and accusing them of not removing all bacteria from the trial! I spent many years serving my country up until I started having kids, now I use these obstacle races as my own personal excitement without quite as much risk of being shot or blown up. If you aren’t in adequate mental and physical condition to navigate a few low-moderate risk obstacles then I’d prefer you skip the race than to try to ruin it for all of us that enjoy the races and have the common sense to skip the obstacles we aren’t equipped to handle.

    This incessant blaming of others for your own problems makes me sick.

    • Jennifer July 12, 2013, 1:08 am

      I whole heartedly agree!

  • mudrungirl November 15, 2012, 11:41 pm

    Okay, I realize this is old, but I totally stumbled upon this article. I have done 18 obstacle races in the past year. Yes…18 =) There is a complete network of us out there who are obsessed with these races. I do about 2 per month. I have COMPLETELY different view than all those who posted here. Never in my life have a been an athlete or enjoyed working out until these races came about. I have never had so much fun, been more encouraged or felt more accomplished fitness wise. To see how far I have come in one year is amazing. I love the team spirit of the events. I run often with a group and we help each other and motivate one another along the way. The more of these I do, the more I want something more challenging. I love climbing ropes, and walls and yes, I even love the open water swims. The high jumps are awesome and monkey bars are inclines are sick. I can do without the electric wires though. =) As far as the whole “germ” thing…..there are more germs on a grocery cart or your cell phone. Ever read the articles about how kids who play in the dirt are healthier? there’s truth to that. Sure there are risks of injury, but there’s risks of injury in lots of sports (and that’s what I consider this to be) For those new to the sport, try something like a Warrior Dash to get started with. It’s a very easy race and great for beginners. Take a group of friends, bring a camera along and just laugh and have fun while getting in a great workout. The more you train and do these things the better you get at it. It’s like being a kid again with a grown up play ground =) I LOVE OBSTACLE RACING =) I just wish it would have been thriving like it is now 10 years ago when I had more available time =)

  • majroj November 25, 2012, 2:27 am

    I’ve been to two races, once as a volunteer at a booth, and as a paid first-aid provider the second time. I was stricken by the overall great atmosphere among the participants and the care the promoters seem to have taken to provide a challenge. I am ambivalent about spending so much money (promoting a profit motive) and for such events seemingly having no standards such as those for amusement parks and races sanctioned under other organizations.

    Such standards might have saved the life of Mr. Weathers and prevented illness or injury to others. That such instances are so rare is a credit to the individuals participating and presenting them, but it can be done better; to prevent further such tragedies and subsequently government dropping in with both feet, they need to get it together a little better.

  • ToughMudderInfection January 28, 2013, 4:48 pm

    The tough mudder run I completed in Austin (oct. 6 , 2012) with a group of friends was awesome and fascinating. . There was 7 people in our group running this race . It was all fun and games up until after we finished the race and some of us started to fill sick . To make a long story short , one of my friends ended up with some crazy bacteria infection in her sinus cavities. She was on antibiotics for 3 weeks and had to do sinus washes due to all the muddy water that had made it’s way into her body . As for me—- it’s mid January of 2013—- 3 months and a half after the race and I’m still on antibiotics. . I’m getting treated for a bacteria infection I pickup from being in that muddy and dirty water. . The antibiotics took a toll on my body – so drastically that it has now caused a flora imbalance. . Who knows when I will ever get better. . I’ve been on 5 different treatments and my doctor is just blown away with why I can’t get rid of this bacteria infection . We’ve done injections , pills and a few other remedies. . I just finished my last treatment and I’m hoping this will do it. . I’ll never do one of these races again . I’ll stick to asphalt or trail running .

    • Stephanie March 4, 2013, 9:05 pm

      Has your doctor tried a course of treatment for fungal infection? This is pretty common to get from mud too.

  • Tricia May 15, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I was just searching the web for some info on how to start ensuring more safety in these obstacle runs. I just attempted my first one on Saturday (the San Diego ROC Race) and ended up in the ER. I found out I wasn’t the only one that day; they had at least 6 others brought in to that same ER earlier that day (not counting all the other local ERs around). I happened to be doing the obstacle with barrels strung together across 4 feet of dirty water and you were to make it across while avoiding the two wrecking balls. A third of the way across, I slipped and my knee got stuck between two barrels ripping the flesh right to the bone as I fell into the nasty water. But I wasn’t the worst of the injuries; there were spinal injuries, open fractures, serious rope burns, and head lacerations earlier that morning before me (those were only the ones I had heard about). If there had been some instruction on how to do some of these obstacles prior to doing them, I think many would avoid injury. We would have the choice to say, we don’t think we want to try this and skip. If someone had told me, “if you feel like you are losing balance, be sure to fall away from the barrels”, I wouldn’t be all stitched up and on the mend today. Simple instructions and warnings- it’s easy to do, they need to start doing it for these obstacles!

  • Jennifer July 12, 2013, 1:04 am

    My first mud run was Tough Mudder Ga 2013. I took the obstacles, and the run seriously. As an LPN back in school for my RN, I couldn’t risk getting hurt–and not be able to finish nursing school. I took my time at each obstacle, and bypassed the 12 foot Berlin wall…I had aleady planned to skip that before the event…human ankles are not made for that kind of impact…it’s foolish to jumb from that distance. At about mile 8, the leg cramps were almost unbearable…I was miserable. But, I dug deep, prayed, and finished the course. I am now officially addicted to extreme mud runs, and plan on doing one a month as long as there is one close enough. By the way, I’m a bad ass 54 year old lady!

  • Robert Sakz September 26, 2013, 8:31 pm

    I did my first mud run February this year. The Florida Super Spartan. I did it as a team with 3 other people whom I train (I’m a personal trainer). It was challenging but the basic training we did before helped getting though obstacles easier. They had done another race a few months before and did very poor in rope climbing, monkey bars, etc and had never done a 9 mile obstacle race so I redesigned their training prior to the Super Spartan and it made it much more enjoyable being able to do everything and not get hurt. Since they trained harder in preparing for the race they also got more fit as a result.
    I’ve already created team Sakz Fitness for the Florida Super Spartan 2014 in April and 11 of my clients have already joined. I’m also starting an obstacle course bootcamp next weekend in which I will have similar obstacles you’ll encounter in a race and incorporating 1 – 3 mile runs in between them.
    I like the challenge of these races. A few of the triathletes I have trained actually find it refreshing and more exiting than the long distance races. However I have heard bad comments from some who have done other smaller mud runs that apparently were not as well put together and with less crowd control which makes for higher risk of injury. I guess it might be better to stick with the ones that have been doing it longer.
    They’re good for any age as long as your fit enough to get through them. I’m 54 and everyone I train is younger than me but I saw a couple of people finishing the Spartan race that were in their 60’s.

  • Ann December 11, 2013, 5:19 pm

    I have my heart set on building a safe training ground for obstacle course players. Location just outside Raleigh NC . I want it to be fun hard and safe for all ages sizes and abilities. I will not accept corporate funding nor post one adv on training arena , If you have ideas of an ideal course and the inclination to share for all; Please contact me. Look at what have built recently at Go Play Outside Now LLC Garner NC

  • Alison April 27, 2015, 11:39 am

    Yes, I recently participated in my first 5 mile mud run. It was difficult but fun as well. The obsticals were not very easy and we could not see where we were walking because we were so deep in mud. There were roots and branches under the mud and water. We had guide ropes which helped us climb the slippery walls. I had some cuts and bruises but nothing major.

  • M.S. September 13, 2015, 9:32 pm

    I just ran the Savage Race 2015 yesterday. Here are the CONS.. then Pros 😉

    1. 3 blisters on my palms after doing monkey bars. Screamed in the shower bc it hurt so bad but you should expect this with all the monkey bars you’ll have to swing through =). You’ll definately learn how to wash your hair and scrub soap on with the back of your arms or hands lol.

    2. bruises on arms, thighs. My goal next mud run around, is to get less bruises and blisters 😉

    3. BUG BITES! So there was this obstacle where you have to crawl under some barbed wire. FUN OBSTACLE! However I decided to be creative and instead of crawling, I dragged my body through…. using my elbows []upper body strength. Of course, because my stomach was sliding on the ground, I managed to scoop in a nasty little critter in my training bra….. that…. kept biting me after I was done with that obstacle!!!! Be careful out there. Check yourselves after each obstacle bc you might have a bug/thorns/porchipine looking tree stuff []whatever those balls of thorns are called], stuck on you or in your clothes!!!

    4. EAR PAIN!! After plunging in muddy water, I had muddy ear wax. YEP! And My ears are still very painful. Hope it goes away!!

    5. Fever/runny and clogged nose/coughs/itchy throat/itchy nose.
    I usually don’t get sick but after this mud obstacle race I got sick! I’m hoping my immune system got stronger after this though. Trying to stay positive! Nose, ears, and blisters hurt really bad though.

    6. MUD GOES IN EVERYWHERE! Your eyes.. ears.. any.. and yes.. every..where. Just be prepared.. mentally.. and physically =)

    7. Extreme soreness the next day and total exhaustion after the race. If you’re worried about this one you might want to reconsider!

    1. The sense of accomplishment you gain after completing each obstacle and the race itself is AMAZING!
    2. You realize that you and your body can go farther and achieve more than you ever thought possible. The secret? NEVER GIVE UP! Don’t look at the end and how much you have MORE TO GO… just look at the next step.. and what it takes to conquer that! 😉
    I literally failed at 2 of the monkey bar obstacles when I looked at the end and how much longer I had to go.. but the last one…. I managed to finish it because all I kept looking at was the one foot I had to pass… one by one I managed to get over and you have people screaming at you how close you are to finishing… so it’s SO WORTH IT!

    3. You get to look at your bruises and blisters and think what it took to achieve that metal and tee shirt in the end.. and you now have a new goal of getting less number of blisters and bruises for the next mud run!

    4. Bragging rights. Yeah- you feel like a total badass. Even if you were the slowest one to finish the race, you finished it! And.. you live to tell your story!

    5. Free beer in the end.. and new connections/buddies to run with on your next mud run!

    6. Free *Savage Race 2015 Finisher* tee shirt and free *Savage Race 2015* Metal!

    7. Most importantly, you get a new motivation to want to train that much harder at the gym. You learn which muscles groups are your strongest and weakest. Now you have a reason to do those pull ups!


    YES! I loved it. I just don’t know if I want to dive into those muddy waters again since my ears and nose hurts so bad, but everything else was fine. I think I will also empty out the contents in my bra after dragging myself underneath another barbed wire obstacle…. dang bug not only scared the beep out of me but bit me so bad! xP

Healthy Tipping Point