It’s pretty obvious that Americans are down with the program when it comes to endurance sports: over 15 million of us either jog or run on a regular basis, over 20,000 runners competed in last year’s Boston Marathon, and more than 40,00 participated in the New York City Marathon. Throw in the fact that official USA Triathlon membership has tripled over the last 3 years to over 135,000, and it’s clear that even amateur athletes are ready to push the pedal to the mettle to compete and cross the finish line in this demanding category.
Whether this new breed of athlete is ready for the latest trend in the endurance sport scene remains to be seen. Called a mud run, these events are being offered as a down-and-dirty alternative to the usual 5 or 10K road race, which seem absolutely tame in comparison.
The race making the biggest dirty splash on the mud run circuit is the Tough Mudder, which bills itself as “the toughest one day event on the planet.” Launched last year, Tough Mudder was created by a former British Special Forces soldier and Harvard Business School grad. Held across the country from New Jersey to Southern California, the next race this year is scheduled for the weekend of October 9 and 10 on the slopes of Northern California’s Bear Valley Mountain Resort. According to promoters, the Bear Valley race promises to be twice as big as the inaugural event held last May in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania.
The Bear Valley Tough Mudder will follow a seven-mile course through the resort, which sits at 8,000 feet above sea level. Participants will attempt to conquer 19 different obstacles on their way to the finish. Athletes can look forward to being blasted by high-pressure hoses as they run through the mountain’s halfpipe and hanging on for dear life as they cross a rickety rope swing bridge and try to avoid falling into the icy water below. As far as the number of participants, the Tough Mudder crew expected 500 takers on their first event and ended up selling out, as 4,500 athletes took on the challenge. If you want to be part of the excitement, tighten your Tevas and make a run for it as registration is still open for both days of the weekend event.