Mud on the Run


When it comes to physical fitness events, there can be a feeling of “been there, done that” involved in the excitement level. Running a marathon? Popular activity in the bay area: they have one scheduled almost every weekend around here. Obstacle course? Nature’s Boot Camp on Dale Mabry has that covered. Calisthenics while being yelled at? So many military boot camp-style workout groups to choose from it’s not even funny.

So for anyone seeking something a little more challenging (re: potentially dangerous), TampaSportsFitness heartily recommends the Tough Mudder challenge.

And it’s a challenge, mind you, not a race. Author Josh Eells summed it up best in his article on Tough Mudder that appeared in the October 2012 edition of Men’s Journal: a 10- to12-mile cross-country trail, dotted with 20 or so military-style obstacles. Participants are treated to a beer and a free shirt at the end of the course. The goal is to finish: no medals are given to the people who cross the finish line, and the guys charging ahead are usually the crazy ones.

There’s a reason the course is called “mudder,” too: most of the obstacles involve either running or crawling through the stuff. The course laid out for Tampa will include the Swamp Stomp, where participants go waist deep in the stuff; Dirty Holes and the Trenches. Oh, and there will also be a 15 foot drop into cold water (Walk the Plank, oddly fitting for Tampa), a mountain of haystacks to climb, and a run through a field of live wires, some of which will be carrying a 10,000 volt jolt.

Excited? Us too.

Tough Mudder has been striking a chord among the functional fitness trend that’s popped up in the last few years, with programs like P90X, Insanity, and CrossFit gyms. What’s the point of being able to bench press 400 lbs if you can’t use that strength to, say, help push a man up a wall and then climb up yourself?

According to Eells’ article, Tough Mudder started three years ago as a one-time project and has spawned a number of similar races like the Warrior Dash and the Spartan Race. It’s now the most popular of the functional fitness courses that travel around the world and challenge anyone willing to sign the waiver and tromp through the elements to prove how tough they are.

Because that’s what these courses are about. Participants who make it through have the privilege of knowing they survived a three-hour ordeal where they dealt with a dumpster full of ice water (Arctic Enema), a climb of a slope so high and steep they needed to rely on the other guys running the course to ascend it (Cliff Hanger), and a pleasant job through a field with four-foot flames serving as the primary obstacle (Fire Walker).

How popular is this three-year-old event? So popular that it’s making two appearances in Tampa, one in December 2012 and again in 2013. Crossfit Sparta on Nebraska (which we may have talked about before) has a training program set up for those that want to attempt the course.

Anyone going? There were still spots open for the December run when we last checked. Cost is $125, a day on the course and probably a set of workout clothes and a pair of shoes.

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