Top Ten Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mud Run Event

The mud running community is quickly gaining muddy ground lately as we continue to seek relief from our offices, labs, classrooms, couches and cubicles.

…a mud run just ain’t a mud run without an ice-cold FREE beer waiting at the finish line!

With this great demand for a filthy wet fix, the supply of mud runs has been equally steady. Mud run events continue to pop up in nearly every major city across the U.S. and abroad and there’s no sign of this trend halting to a stop anytime soon. With all these mud runs, choosing the right one has become a slippery task. But not anymore! In this article you’ll find a few things to ponder to help narrow down your mud run choices.

The Top Ten Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mud Run Event – and some other reasons too!

  1. Charity: Part of what makes a mud run an incredibly popular and worthwhile event is the ability to generate Benjamins for a reputable charity. Surely most mud runs turn a profit, but what separates the respectable from the rejectable IMO is the willingness to raise awareness for a decent cause and contribute to it. Here’s a few great mud runs who donate:  ABF MudRun donates half of all proceeds from its race to the Strong Kids Foundation, Tough Mudder has raised over $2 million for the Wounded Warrior Project, Hell Run raises money the LIVESTRONG Foundation
  2. Free Beer: For the drinking-age crowd, a mud run just ain’t a mud run without an ice cold FREE beer waiting at the finish line! Some of MRM’s top choices for free beer include: Mud Dog Run – offers complimentary beer from Flying Dog Brewery, Tough Mudder – choice of one Dos Equis amber or dark, Madison Mud Run – provides two free Capital Brewery beers and free wings
  3. Free Kick-Ass T-shirt: What good is a mud run without a t-shirt to show-off your accomplishment? Since the mud run t-shirt is more or less an event staple, seek out a mud run with a killer design and logo. Try Spartan Race, Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run, or Warrior Dash. FYI: Tough Mudder participants get a t-shirt and the iconic orange headband.
  4. Obstacles: A few things to consider here. First, mud run courses built and tested by the military tend to feature the best obstacles, as these guys are the toughest of the tough. Second, seek creativity –  book a mud run with a course that offers a potpourri of mental and physical challenges, and at least a few obstacles that you haven’t seen before. No one likes a copycat mud run, because frankly, copies are NEVER as good as the original. Variety is important as well, you don’t want to just be low-crawling, climbing walls or running through sprinklers the entire race. Again, Tough Mudder is the gold-standard here, but those seeking a more rigorous test should seek out GORUCK Challenge, Canadian Death Race, or Spartan Death Race Challenge
  5. Free Live Music and After-Party: All the bigs and many of the lesser-known mud runs provide a foot-stomping, beer-guzzling post party to speed up your mud run recovery time. Many are staged in beer gardens with food vendors, merchandise stands, and contests for prizes. Don’t waste your time and sign up for one that doesn’t have a place to let your muddy hair down!
  6. Course Length: Really a no-brainer here, but a huge factor in figuring out which mud run is the right fit. Just know what you are getting yourself into. I once did a Tough Mudder with a guy who crashed with 6 miles to go because he was in over his head and didn’t train for the distance. There’s plenty of 3, 6 and 8+ mile mud runs to choose from like the Original Mud Run (10k), Warrior Dash (5k) and Spartan Beast (10-12 mile)
  7. Cost: The economy is a funny thing. When times are tougher, we get muddier, despite the increasing expense of mud running. Mud runs start around $40 and could go up to $450 (World’s Toughest Mudder). One thing you can do to help offset your mud running costs is to sign up early. And I don’t mean one or two months before the event. You can usually knock-off 40-50 percent of the fee by signing up five to six months in advance. Keep in mind that shorter mud runs are often cheaper than most of the long-distance races. A Tough Mudder (10-12 miles) starts at around $80 for early registration and goes up to $180. Spartan Sprints (5k) start at $45 and hit around $75 for last-minute registrants. Also, check for discounts and promo codes online, at your local gym and on the site of the mud run. For example, Tough Mudder offers a $25 credit for raising $150 in donations for the Wounded Warrior Project.
  8. Volunteerism: For the mudder who isn’t up to running, you can always support the race by volunteering. Mud runs are doing a great job of recruiting those willing to lend a helping mud-covered hand. Many will post their volunteer information directly on their websites and some look for workers on Facebook and Twitter. Volunteering is a great experience for anyone to learn something new, meet exciting new people and get the inside scoop on a niche. If you want to volunteer and still run in the mud, don’t hesitate to ask the race coordinator if they will accept your volunteerism in exchange for a free ride through the mud run course, which is a real win-win for both parties. Some mud runs taking volunteers include: Mud Dog Run, USMC Mud Run, and Gladiator Rock-n-Run
  9. Popular Facebook Page with Comments: Honestly, one of the most surefire methods of determining whether or not you will have a great experience at a mud run is to see what your peers think. Pat Flynn, an online marketing master, refers to this as “social proof”. The majority of mud runs have a Facebook page to promote their run. Be sure to check these out and skim through the comments, pictures and feedback from other mud runners. If you have a question, a mud run’s Facebook page will often give the fastest and most genuine response. When it comes to Likes, they aren’t everything, but they can help sway your decision of choosing a mud run. For example, a more popular run could be the opposite of what you are looking for, especially if you want to avoid the lines and log-jamming at obstacles typical of the bigs. Top Mud Runs on Facebook: Tough Mudder 1million+, Warrior Dash 700k+, Spartan Race 500k+
  10. Location and Terrain: Don’t overlook the site of the mud run. When I ran the Bear Creek Tough Mudder last year, I remember overhearing so many mudders complain about the steep mountain landscape. Yes, it was brutal, but expected since Tough Mudder provides near-full disclosure of its courses prior to each race. Pay attention to the locale of the mud run. Know whether or not you will be trudging up mountains or high-kneeing through swamp grounds and train for it. ASYMCA Mud Run is mapped-out through beach sand, which is an animal all to itself. Simulate your conditions as best in your mud run training to avoid choosing a mud run with terrain that will leave you high and dry.

Other factors you may wish to consider include:

  • promotion of teamwork and camaraderie
  • costumes allowed
  • on-site professional photographer
  • death waiver
  • natural conditions: weather/season/time of day/temperature
  • distance from home
  • overall muddiness
  • team vs. individual
  • types of sponsors
  • types of free giveaways offered
  • prizes for winners
  • qualifying for a bigger Grand Event
  • # of competitors

Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think! What other factors do you consider when choosing a mud run? What other topics would you like to see covered on the site? Leave your wonderfully smart comments below. Please, no spam. Keep mudding!

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