Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tough Mudder v. Warrior Dash

This is a follow-up post to the race report/summary posted earlier and also copied from my tri forum.

I have a few photos from TM so I'll post those when I get the camera working again. It needs a soak to dislodge some of the dirt from underneath the power button. Even though it's supposed to be waterproof, shockproof, dust-proof, and freeze-proof (all of which came in handy on Saturday), it is definitely not mud-proof. Somehow it survived being buried in a mud pit at Warrior Dash, but the Tough Mudder folks managed to get enough mud into it to make it dead by mile 3.

Unfortunately I don't have a post-race photo (as in, a we're-not-so-clean-anymore photo) because of the deadness of the camera, but also because we ran through water a lot towards the end and most of the mud had washed off by then. I say most, because even after my shower back at the hotel, my towel did not look white. And the tub didn't drain properly for a couple of hours.

My only photo regret is a post-Mud Mile pic, where we were literally covered in about half an inch coat of mud. Try taking a bath in melted chocolate, and you'll get a good idea of the consistency. It was impressive.

I don't know if I conveyed this enough in my write-up, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was hard, frustrating, exhausting, and just plain draining, but it was so much fun and exactly the sort of challenge I was looking for. The length of the course and the obstacles gave ample opportunity to talk to many people. And we kept running into Tough Mudders all weekend, even on our flight back to Colorado yesterday morning. Cool stuff.

As for your question about which race I prefer...definitely Tough Mudder. It's longer, harder, and more thrilling. Warrior Dash was a bit easy. But then again, Tough Mudder got that same kind of review only six months ago and they have since totally revamped their events. So I don't really know about the current WD races. I still think Warrior Dash is geared towards a less adventurous crowd. Tough Mudder seems to think so as well. In their information packet, they say, "If you do not feel comfortable completing any obstacle, DO NOT attempt it; simply continue on to the next obstacle. But really, what do you think you signed up for, Warrior Dash?" Kind of elitist and snobby, but based on the sheer distance and number of obstacles, I see they have a point.

As compared to WD, TM is definitely longer, harder, and more thrilling for me. It encourages more camaraderie and teamwork than does WD by making a lot of obstacles impossible to complete alone, even for big strong dudes, and not giving out timing chips or anything that would assign participants a time. You have to self-report a time and even then, only the people that want to qualify for the World Championship Tough Mudder Race (top 5% of each race) care enough to do that.

Overall, I think the post-race atmosphere after WD was better, with a more festival feel than TM, and with more people sticking around. That may be due to the different demographics of participants and location (I did WD in a ski town in CO and TM on a motocross track in TX) or maybe due to the length of the race. TM took everything out of me to the point that all I wanted to do was take a nap (and I did...for 4 hours) while WD was tiring but I still wanted to hang out and listen to the bands.

I highly recommend both races and I think people should start out with WD to see if they enjoy this kind of twisted masochism, because TM could be a bit much if you decide this isn't for you.

Oh, and there was an article posted in the Austin paper the next day writing up the event and interviewing people. I thought you would be interested in reading this part (TM is a bit cocky, but after running it, I think they somewhat deserve to be that way):

The event is not designed to appeal to the same crowd that's drawn to traditional triathlon, the three-part sport of swim, cycle and run.

"People who want to wax their legs and practice changing socks quickly are just not going to enjoy this," event creator Will Dean said.

Tough Mudders are 80 percent male and mostly in their early 30s. The average finishing time is about two and a half hours.

It took us a bit longer than 2.5 hours to finish, and the completion rate they cite in the article cannot be correct. Maybe they mean that 20% don't do all the obstacles? Because their version would mean over 600 people didn't finish, and I don't believe that. It's also kind of funny that they emphasize the electric wires the most in the article, when in fact, it wasn't the most challenging part of the whole race, at least to most people I spoke with later. The worst part about them was being heckled by spectators 200 yards from the finish line. Haha!


  1. I think both are great ! Great courses to fight and both are good for testing and challenging people strength.

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