Strength and endurance athletes are increasingly turning to mud and obstacle course runs for their next challenge. These events provide an exciting new way for people to test their limits and foster a sense of community and teamwork. Project Purple is pleased to be an official charity partner with the Tough Mudder race series! Tough Mudders are mud and obstacle course runs of varying distances where runners can work their way through muddy obstacles course as an individual or, better yet, as part of a team. If you are seeking a fun new way to test your physical and mental limits, consider rising to the challenge and tackling an obstacle course run.
I recently spoke with several Project Purple alumni about why they had previously chosen to participate in a Tough Mudder. Overwhelmingly the response was because our athletes had wanted to test their limits in new ways, and have fun in the process. Marisa Valentinetti explains, “I saw a lot of commercials for the mud runs and they looked like a good challenge. They looked like something that would add to my running. I also thought it must be fun to play in the mud and feel like a kid again.”
Stephanie Brown adds, “I got started in mud runs almost two years ago. I joined my running/obstacle course team and all they talked about were the different obstacle courses and how muddy they were. Honestly, they had me at ‘brute strength’ and ‘mud’.” Project Purple runner and Tough Mudder finisher Brian Reeves sums it up, saying, “I like giving myself different challenges. So, besides choosing new distances to run or places to visit, trying out strength and running events combined seemed interesting.” Pedro Lopez adds, “I love the fact that I can be myself and push myself to my limits and fears.”
A big part of the draw of Tough Mudder is the teamwork involved. Some people choose to do obstacle course runs as individuals while others enjoy assembling a team of friends. Either way, the participants I spoke with said that the sense of teamwork and camaraderie at a mud run is a large part of what makes these events memorable. Participants enjoy encouraging one another and helping each other get through the various obstacles. Brian Reeves explains, “I did both events as a “team”, which was my favorite part. ‘Leave no man behind’. It was not about finishing first but rather about making sure everyone finished.” Marisa Valentinetti adds, “I like the team aspect of the mud runs. If you get to an obstacle and you need some help, there are always people willing to lend a hand whether I know them or not.” Vanessa Shawver agrees, saying, “The best thing about the Tough Mudder was the team I assembled to run with.” Stephanie Brown feels that the atmosphere at mud runs is different from that of road races. At her first mud run, she immediately felt acceptance from the other athletes and describes it as a ‘great family feeling’. “We all bond. Everyone helps everyone out, no matter what size you are, what age, gender or race. It is just an amazing feeling.”
Couples often enjoy the bonding they experience as they train for and complete obstacle course/mud runs. Pedro Lopez and Stephanie Brown have finished several races together. Stephanie says, “I can’t imagine crossing a finish line without Pedro.” Shannon Scalisi and her husband did a Tough Mudder together to celebrate their 13th anniversary. She says, “Talk about romantic!” Kim Simpson and her husband, Chris, have completed the Vegas Tough Mudder together. After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer and turning 40, Kim decided to attempt a Tough Mudder. She refers to this decision as her “mud life crisis.” She and her husband trained together for months prior to the event, and then finished as a team. “I loved that the Tough Mudder was such a team effort, everybody lending a hand…complete strangers. It was awesome.” Kim adds, “I loved that my husband and I shared the experience together. It was a part of our marriage that I will never, ever forget.”
Training for a mud/obstacle course event typically involves a combination of endurance and strength training. Boot camp-style classes and CrossFit are popular among people who do these types of events. Kevin McTigue says, “My training for the Tough Mudder was basically CrossFit three times a week and then running once a week.” Kim and Chris Simpson’s trainer put together an 8-week training program for aspiring Mudders. Their group met at a local park and trained using ropes, weights, and kettle balls. After their strength training, they would head out for a run. Brian Reeves followed his typical marathon training program but added in extra hill training. He also ran bleachers at a local school and incorporated lots of upper body strength training. Pedro Lopez adds, “When I know an obstacle course run is going to be hard or intense, I try to get into the gym 4-5 times during the week with some running in-between. I focus on dead lifts, squats, leg lifts, pull-ups, chin-ups, shoulder work and core.” Stephanie Brown follows a similar program of boot-camp training. She favors tire-flipping, rope climbing, and rucking with a weighted backpack.
Training for and completing a Tough Mudder is a challenging but rewarding undertaking for most athletes. The combination of strength and endurance training offers a well-rounded workout that conditions the whole body. The events themselves provide an opportunity to challenge oneself in a novel way. Competitors get the chance to work together as a team and overcome their fears. As Kevin McTigue says, “I definitely like the mud races more than just running. The longest running race I have ever done was only a 5k. The obstacles add a bit of fun and a different kind of challenge to break things up.” Challenge yourself to try something new and sign up to run a Tough Mudder with the Project Purple team.
To learn more about Tough Mudders, click here:
To apply to do your next Tough Mudder with Project Purple, click here: