The summer of the mud race - top 5 obstacle races rated
You would have be hiding under a very large rock not to notice the amount of mud and obstacle course that have been cropping up all around UK this year. Ask around and it seems that everyone and their Mum have either taken part in an event this summer or know somebody who has. A lot of thanks has to go to the US big boys of Tough Mudder and Spartan, whose marketing buck has wrestled the attention of the fitness conscious public. They aren’t the only ones doing it though, there are many more smaller companies running some cracking events that are well worth checking out.
I welcome this trend with open arms. I freekin’ love five things:
1) Rolling around in mud, 2) Monkeying around (if a little clumsily), 3) Running, 4) Taking photos and 5) Rambling on about the other things. So it comes as no surprise that I’ve dedicated my summer to taking part in a wide variety of obstacle and running events and writing about my experiences on my blog Mudstacle.com.
Tribesports have asked me to share my thoughts on some of the UK’s best summer events, and it is my pleasure, I don’t need much of an excuse to ramble on. Hopefully it’ll inspire a few more of you to get involved in mud and obstacle races!
I’ve rated the events in several different categories on a scale of 1 to 5:
Muck factor - How grubby you’ll get over the course off the race
Obstacality - The amount and variety of obstacles
Brutality - The toughness of the event
Smile Factor - The amount of smiling faces on the way round (how suitable it is for a jolly)
Runability - How much distance there is between obstacles to get into your stride
Make sure you don’t see low numbers as negative. Each event tends to focus on different area. Some are more about running and less about obstacles, some have a lot of obstacles but less mud. There’s a glorious selection to choose from!
The inaugural London / South East Tough Mudder kicked off the summer season of obstacle races back in May and they were intent on kicking it off with a bang! They pumped a lot of money into marketing and attracted over 9,000 competitors over the weekend. It was great to see that the event lived up to the promotion. Their 20km course included over 25 well constructed obstacles. Although the obstacles were portable and temporary to the site, they were still significant. They included some very high wooden walls (approx 12 feet), and some impressive monkey bars and balance beams that crossed a wide section of river.
The highlight: Mud Mile was filled with claggy clay-type mud to clamber through - one of the best mud sections I’ve seen.
The downside: It’s a pricey event, which I’m not sure is warranted.
The Tough Guy assault course is legendary. It’s been going for donkey’s years and over time has built an unrivaled collection obstacles. The brutality of this event is off the scale. Although you won’t be breaking through ice covered water like their January event, you’ll have to take two laps of “The Killing Fields” assault course instead. That makes for an obstacle-packed 19km. It’s in a completely different league to practically every other race with permanent frameworks to climb over that are as high as a house! It’s almost laughable that other events claim to be “The Toughest”. (NB there are shorter versions available now if you just want to sample the event)
The highlight: The sheer size of everything and the sense of achievement at the finish line.
The downside: The electric shocks in the torture chamber are a little too much.
Like Tough Guy, the Nuts Challenge is British classic. Over many years they’ve built some awesome permanent obstacles and cram a massive amount into 7km. Although the 7km is tough enough on its own, there are also 2, 3 and 4 lap options available. If you haven’t experienced this course, you need to try it. It really is something else. It’s incredibly challenging whilst staying a lot of fun, making it ideal for serious runners as well as those on a jolly.
The highlight: A 100 yard section in the middle of the course that includes, a cargo net climb, fireman’s pole, rope swing, crawl under barbed wire, tunnels, over wall, under wall and tyre wall climb.
The downside: On the multi lap version a lot of people bite off a little more than they can chew!
Along with Tough Mudder, Spartan Race are a big US obstacle course series who are expanding into the UK. Their most popular races are their 5km “Sprints” that have been dotted in several places around the country this summer. They have run a 12km “Super” and plan to run a 20km “Beast” in November. The courses are a lot of fun and comprises a mixture of temporary obstacles (like wooden walls and ice pits) and unique challenges (like throwing spears and carrying sandbags).
The highlight: Fighting your way past pugil stick wielding gladiators
The downside: Their pre-event organisation hasn’t been 100% up to scratch
Read a full reviews here:
Total Warrior’s big selling point is that it takes place in the Lake District - you’d struggle to find a more perfect location for a rugged obstacle event! There are 10km and 10 mile options available. All of the obstacles are situated on the shorter course, with the longer option detouring for an extra 6km hill-run half way through. The terrain didn’t disappoint and the scenery was stunning. There were a lot of hills to contend with and the footing was extremely unpredictable - you wouldn’t know from one footstep to the next whether you would stay on the surface or sink to your knee. The obstacles were fun and varied with all the usual favorites.
The highlight: The best mud dip of the summer. I’ve never waded through such glupey porridgey mud!
The downside: Accessibility. Hotels are quite pricey in the area as well.
So what do you reckon Tribesports? Has Pete got the ratings right? Add your own rating for races you've taken on in the Adventure Racing Tribe and don't forget to follow Pete to keep track of more Mudstacle adventures!
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