Huffington Post: How Dangerous Are Tough Mudders?


The Huffington Post questions the safety of Tough Mudder and other obstacle races in this article posted 11/16/2013
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With names like Electroshock Therapy, Everest, Fire Walker and Trench Warfare, it’s not exactly a secret that Tough Mudder obstacles are designed to rough you up. How could a race billed as “probably the toughest event on the planet” not be challenging?

But after a 28-year-old participant died during an April 2013 Tough Mudder, witnesses and critics questioned the organization’s commitment to safety.

Now, a new study aims to point out just how many injuries are occurring at these races — and how unique the injuries are. “The volume and severity of injuries in the Tough Mudder race we studied was unusually high, possibly leading to some permanent disabilities,” lead study author Marna Rayl Greenberg, DO MPH, said in a statement. “The 1.5 million people who are predicted to enter obstacle races like this in the next year should be well aware of the risks they are taking.”

The study, published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, describes five patients injured at a two-day event who were treated at a local emergency department in Pennsylvania. There were 33 others who were injured and treated at the same hospital but were not included in the study.

One of the patients had burn marks and heart inflammation after receiving 13 electrical shocks. Another had fainted after multiple electrical shocks to the head. A third was unable to move his right side after seizure-like activity and was still experiencing problems with his right leg six months later. The fourth patient had face and head injuries from being struck by electrical cords, and the fifth was admitted to the hospital with rhabdomyolsis (in headlines these days for its association with CrossFit) and dehydration.

In West Virginia, a local hospital had to turn patients away after the injured participants from a Tough Mudder in the area overloaded its resources, CBS Baltimore reported.

Unlike with marathons, where the training enhances race-day performance and preparedness, obstacle races are nearly impossible to train for, the study authors write. There’s little one can do to “prevent injury in an event in which obstacles include having to jump off a 9-foot height or run through a field of electrical wires (while the participant is wet and hot),” they write. “Training might not have prevented many of the injuries that occurred in this event.”



  1. I completed ToughMudder in 2013 in Georgia, and i do not consider myself a hard-core athlete. I trained with a personal trainer, we studied videos and suggestions on how to train, we examined the types of articles and safety factors. Noone on my team endured more than scrapes, bruises, muscle soreness, and a huge sense of accomplishment. I plan to run another TM in 2014, and can hardly wait to be better than before!

  2. The people who wrote the study are wrong. Or stupid. Or both. They are deliberately deceptive about findings like “nearly impossible to train for”

    Training for these races absolutely improves race day performance. I can back that up empirically, so where’s your god now, pussies?!

  3. Yes, people get hurt at obstacle course races, but people are free to run at their own pace and/or drop out at any time. Tough Mudder has to be the most injury-filled race, while Spartan Race is the most challenging.

  4. I did Tough Mudder this past October. I was fully aware of any danger I was subjecting myself to, and understood that I signed a DEATH waver. However, I found this event to be more fun than torture. I feel as if it could have been MUCH worse. With that said, I am already registered for one, and maybe a second Tough Mudder for next year.

  5. People sign waivers for a reason. If there’s any obstacle that people don’t feel prepared for, then they should skip it. Also, as with any physical exercise, people should check with their doctor to be sure they can handle it. As for jumping down from walls, you don’t need to drop all the way from the top. You CAN lower yourself most of the way and only have a 3-foot drop from there. But there it ALWAYS a possibility of ankle injury. I have a friend who broke his ankle stepping off a curb.

    Injuries happen, plain and simple.

    That said, this man’s death was tragic and a fluke of an accident.


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