The Sport Information Resource Centre
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The Sport Information Resource Centre

Obstacle racing which has exploded in popularity since 2009, requires participants to navigate various obstacles, such as fences, mud pits, and climbing nets, that have to be overcome in order to complete the race. When Tough Mudder launched in 2010 it attracted 20,000 participants in the US, and had Canadians jumping on board with 35,000 participants last year. Many Canadians are also familiar with the Spartan race that also keeps growing in numbers.

These races are not a walk in the park and injuries do occur. Usually it’s just scrapes and bruises, but there have been some serious injuries. So why do people keep coming back?

  • Many want to try something different; they enjoy the diversity of the activities
  • Not a competition (depends on the host)
  • Enjoy the physical strength and mental challenges
  • Teamwork; camaraderie
  • Increased focus and concentration to complete the activity
  • Fundraising
  • It’s exciting, some may find singular activities monotonous

First of all, most courses are designed with a team in mind, meaning you can’t get through them without someone giving you a helping hand. Anyone can sign up, regardless of your fitness level, although preparing a bit for an upcoming race would probably be a good idea. Ages vary with most participants being in their 20s or 30s and mainly consists of men, but the number of female participants is growing.

Obstacle course training is a highly effective method of developing a diverse set of skills and abilities. It offers a variety of activities for participants to challenge themselves physically and psychologically and adds a sense of pride, accomplishment and camaraderie with the other athletes when you finish the race.

If you feel you are up to the challenge, Tough Mudder will be hosting events in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal this year and the Spartan Races will be held in multiple cities across Canada. If you have never participated in one of these races before, it’s a good idea consult your doctor when starting any new vigorous exercise program.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Get Your Mud On. Runner’s World. October 2011;46(10):100.
2. Mellen G. Getting Dirty for Good, Clean Fun. Sportstravel. April 2012;16(4):45-52.
3. MUD RACING GOES MARTIAL. Black Belt. August 2012;50(8):22.
4. Mullins N. Obstacle Course Challenges: History, Popularity, Performance Demands, Effective Training, and Course Design. Journal Of Exercise Physiology Online. April 2012;15(2):100-128.
5. RADDING B, OLIVERO T. GET IN THE RACE. Men’s Fitness. October 2011;27(8):36.
6. Schaefer K. ONE TOUGH MUDDER. ESPN Magazine. June 27, 2011;14(11):114-119.



The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.