Join Tribesports today – it's free!

Tribesports is the home of sportspeople and sports challenges.
Join the fun and start sharing your sports activities with people like you.

The summer of the mud race - top 5 obstacle races rated


Posted by Pete Rees of Mudstacle under Adventure Racing on 18 October 2012 at 11:00 PM

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

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!

Tough Mudder Ratings Card

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.

Read full Tough Mudder review here

Tough Guy ratings card

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.

Read the full Tough Guy Nettle Warrior review here 

The Nuts Challenge ratings card

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! 

Read the full Nuts Challenge review here  

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:

London Spartan Sprint | Cambridge Spartan Sprint | Midlands Super Spartan 

Total Warrior ratings card

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.

Read the full Total Warrior review here

Tribesports and Mudstacle ratings cards for 5 top adventure races

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!

  • Encourage

    encouraged this.



    This is awesome Pete - what's your next adventure race? If Tough Guy in the summer gets a 5 for brutality, the winter one must be off the charts!

    Peter R and James G encouraged this.


    Cheers guys. Cags - I've got lots of races coming up. Demon Run in Wales this Sunday is first. I'm particularly looking forward to Hell Runner, Survival of the Fittest and the Spartan Beast in November. Yeh Steve give Tough Mudder a shot, it's so much fun and if you like it don't stop there, all of these races are so great in their own ways!

    Jennifer P encouraged this.


    I'm running the Hell Runner on the 11th November - 2 weeks after the London to Paris cycle ride, been so focused on cycling recently that running is going to be a real shock!

    Peter R and Muddy J encouraged this.


    Hell Runner coming up in November, can't wait for that! Really want to try the Tough Guy at some point - brutality 5/5 sounds awesome!

    Peter R encouraged this.


    This is great to get from the UK perspective, particularly since I am hoping to go to a Tough Mudder there next year. For a US perspective, @muddyj has been doing something similar. Check out his profile for the link to his blog.

    encouraged this.


    awesome @lorenob - we'll have to see how his ratings match up to Pete's top trump cards!


    @pete-mudstacle, I've signed up for the Survival of the Fittest Day and Night and the Spartan Beast. That's going to be some weekend! And I have signed up for Tough Mudder for next year. Was looking at doing Tough Guy too but now I'm not so sure!!! Great reviews.

    Jack A and Peter R encouraged this.


    I did a warrior dash over the summer...too tame for me. I was supposed to do The Super Spartan in Illinois this next weekend, but with my foot and knee the way they are, I don't think I should risk further injury! Maybe next year!! Thanks for the reviews, its good to see the comparison across several!

    encouraged this.


    This was excellent to read through and has made me want to do some of these even more! Thank goodness I am signed up! :D Thanks Pete

    Peter R encouraged this.


    @ckettman - Just realize that the same race can be significantly different based on venue. I agree that the Warrior Dash is tame, but it's also only 5k and ~15 obstacles. That Super Spartan is 8-10 miles and ~70 obstacles. Each race is different. Tough luck on the injury. I hope you feel better soon!

    Casey K encouraged this.


    That holds true for many races, very good point @lorenob! Only way to find out for certain is to get out there and do it :) Thanks for the well wishes, I'm on my way to 100%, can't wait to hit the pavement hard again after putting in sloooow miles :)


    Good work @harlequin! I love Survival of the Fittest, it's such a great race (I love how the inflatables look so fun but end up being the most energy draining obstacles there are). I'm doing the Survival day (2nd wave) then Beast the next day... I'm tempted by booking the night as well... we'll see - I really want to take some pics though, it will look stunning I'm sure.


    great articles Pete, I did 4 of your top 5. My favourite was total warrior, I did the super 10, where you have to do both days, that makes it quite brutal! Especially when camping overnight in the Lake District with around 1000 other warriors enjoying the local pubs a bit too much!

    Peter R encouraged this.


    Tom - I also did Total Warrior but just the 10K. Was a big enough challenge for me although maybe I should up my game and shoot for the Super 10 next year. Amazing atmosphere - definitely a highlight of my year. Thanks, Pete for the articles...almost motivating me to commit to some serious winter training!


    Do it @angem there are plenty events all through the winter. I HIGHLY recommend Nuts Challenge! I think I'm going to have to Super 10 next year @tomlivi. Cheers @cags. I may well take you up on that!

    Angela M encouraged this.


    Great blog! Thanks for posting :D


    superb article. Wonderful read. Thank you :)


    @pete-mudstacle I'm in Wave 3 during the day, Wave 5 at night. No idea what wave for the Spartan Beast. I'll just be glad to be in one piece by that point! I know Faye K and Nathan T are helping out at the Spartan Beast too so they should be around and will be racing in one of the later heats. Looking forward to it, bring on the inflatables!!!


    Good work! Hopefully we will make your list next year too! Obstacle racing in Devon,

    Peter R and Jack A encouraged this.


    A useful List, let's see if we can make it on here :-)

    You need to be a member of Tribesports to comment.

    Join or sign in