The Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course that advertises itself as, “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet,” and not as a “race” but a “personal challenge.” It is held annually in cities across the United States and Canada, and will hit the UK, Australia, and Japan next year.
Even if not a “race,” there are certainly “winners.” At the May 29th Southern California event, Eric Bond, an experienced adventure racer and US Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technician (and a personal friend) came in ﬁrst, among 10,000 competitors. I was able to interview him before he was deployed to Afghanistan, interrupting his adventure racing habit.
[MD]: What is appealing to you about adventure racing?[EB]: I was a Sprint Swimmer for the Naval Academy. Despite the label “sprinter,” we often practiced in excess of 12,000 to 15,000 meters a day, all for a race lasting less than a minute long.
This gave me the base to switch to adventure racing, where races last anywhere from six hours on the extreme low side to up to a week long on the high side; with the average being anywhere between 24 to 48 hours.
Adventure Racing appeals to me because it involves a number of different disciplines with a wide range of skill-sets so it gives competitors a variety of athletic disciplines to challenge themselves in, [on] minimal food and water, without sleep for days.[And] did I mention that you are map and compass orienteering the entire race? Sometimes hundreds of miles of course? When you add all of these disciplines and challenges together it gives you a great race to test your overall ﬁtness against yourself and against others.
How does the Tough Mudder compare–in terms of difﬁculty–with other races?
The Tough Mudder challenges many participants with its length, elevation change, and obstacles. Most people havenʼt done a race within excess of 10,000+ feet of elevation change and military-style obstacles spread out over 10 plus miles, so it is extremely demanding for the average person.
Although you canʼt really compare an adventure race to an obstacle style race like the Warrior Dash or the Tough Mudder, I would say that if you averaged the difﬁculty of the course against the time it takes to complete, that it is probably one of the more difﬁcult races Iʼve done.
The Tough Mudder constantly challenges you mentally and physically without giving you any kind of break. Somehow it felt as if I was always going up and up and up.