Is ‘Tough Mudder’ the dirtiest phrase in OCR?

Like it or loathe it, Tough Mudder is swiftly becoming the Marmite of the OCR world. Much adored by some, many of whom began their OCR journey at a Tough Mudder, and mocked by others who see it as a corporate money making exercise devoid of community values.

But here’s the shocking confession: I don’t have strong feelings either way about Tough Mudder, in fact the only thing I actually have feelings about is how strong other people’s feelings are.

After the first race of the season (which was, admittedly, a little shaky in terms of organisation), the inevitable unfavourable reviews came through. The bag drop was shambolic, there wasn’t enough mud, the T Shirt was rubbish, there weren’t many food vans, the parking was expensive, the queues were big, the traffic wasn’t managed properly, you couldn’t go on the fire pole unless you’d done four hundred TMs. Some of these things pissed me off. For example, I didn’t pay upwards of £100 to find my own bag. I couldn’t really give a toss about the food van variety, because they had some form of meat and there were chips, so that’s me sorted. Some people were very upset though. Very upset indeed.

Complaints are inevitable. You can’t please everyone, and it’s natural to be a bit miffed if you have paid any amount of money, and not gotten what you expected in return. Rebuffs to these complaints came almost instantly, but so did the term ‘hater’, which is somewhat overused, and taken out of context. If you would like to learn about the correct context, speak to Taylor Swift. I was not previously aware that having a little gripe about something made you a hater, but apparently that business is not tolerated on OCR message boards.

These are some of the arguments that have come up regarding one of the most polarising issues in the OCR community.

If you think it’s too expensive, don’t do it

Well, since it’s been billed by TM enthusiasts as a rite of passage, I kindof have to do it really, and that involves paying for it.

If you don’t like TM, don’t enter it

Yeah but how do I know if I like it if I don’t do one? Surely I need to have an informed opinion on the run…

If you haven’t done TM, you can’t slag it off

But you literally just said that if I don’t like it, I shouldn’t do it. Now I’m confused.

You can’t complain about the lack of mud.

VERY true. That’s like trying to get a refund on your holiday because it rained a bit. I wish my only problem in life was that it wasn’t within my desired temperature range when I completed an obstacle course.

The Legionnaires get to do a special loop, so it is worth doing more than one race.

The Legionnaires got ONE extra obstacle on the course. The other was in the middle of the village, and was incredibly over-hyped. I’ve felt in more danger crossing the road, personally.

The obstacles are really big and expensive to put together, maintain and marshal, so you should appreciate them.

I appreciate the effort, but I don’t have to enjoy them. It might seem like spitting out a scallop at a Michelin starred restaurant to you, but why are you personally offended that I didn’t rate TM that highly?

So I remain on the ten-foot fence about Tough Mudder – it wasn’t for me, but I absolutely see its merits. Its ethos is unique amongst obstacle courses, and I fully respect its charitable endeavours and the effort that is put into the obstacle construction and safety. Do I give a shit that it’s basically Starbucks with monkey bars? No, not really. But to carry on the metaphor, I resent paying over the odds for a tepid coffee, and that’s exactly how I feel about TM. You can go do it if you want, and you’ll probably have a very nice time. I probably won’t, because I need to save my money for my burgeoning blueberry addiction. And that’s okay. Because you have your own mind to make up.

How do you feel about TM and the general community reaction to it?


One thought on “Is ‘Tough Mudder’ the dirtiest phrase in OCR?

  1. Simon says:

    Did my first TM this year at London West. For a long time I said I would never do one, but my friend persuaded me we needed to tick it off (and I got tired of being asked by non-OCR friends if I’ve done it and then seeing their eyes glaze over as I try to explain about the other races I have done). So off we went. I really enjoyed it, but I won’t do another one.

    Pros: the atmosphere was brilliant both in the village and on the course, it was pretty well organised considering the scale of it, the location was beautiful and made for a great run through the woods, some of the obstacles are brilliant and really well designed, the poor fitness of the majority of participants made me feel like an elite fell runner by comparison (the pleasure of this is not to be underestimated), being electrocuted is an experience I will never forget and watching other people go through it afterwards was a definite highlight.

    Cons: I’m glad I got early bird tickets for £50 as the full price is horrifying, a lot of the obstacles were really tame (three hay bales does not make an obstacle imho) and made for a very mixed course that ended up mostly running, the new Cry Baby obstacle is a joke but it did clear my sinuses, the goodie bag was really poor considering the ticket price, there was a lot of overt corporate sponsorship but perhaps this is the future of OCR anyway much like it has been with music festivals.

    I like your analogy of TM being the Starbucks of OCR. For me it was the stag/hen party capital of OCR. It was obvious that a lot of people had singed up for it without really knowing what they were doing and had perhaps spent more time designing their group t-shirt than actually training for a 12 mile run. But each to their own.

    I think they have done very well with capturing the marketplace for bucket listers and have a reputation built on a few stand out obstacles. But overall, I was disappointed as it was not the challenge I had expected. For me, there are much better events at half the price.


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