Obstacle races with added mud
Fastest growing mass participation sport in the UK is mud runs, according to the BBC. Writers Neil Heath and Andrew Aloia reported in late March “on the growth of the multi-million pound industry.”
Obstacles with huge amounts of mud, water and (in the UK at least) probably cold, appeal to up to 250,000 people a year who crawl through tight muddy tunnels, wade across icy water, dodge electric wires and jump over fire.
The BBC reports that, according to the Obstacle Course Racing Association, there are about 150 events across the UK, and many more in many other countries including Australia where the Tough Mudder events are growing fast, and developing new obstacles each year.
With substantial entrance charges and many events to choose from, it’s the camaraderie and sense of competition among friends which makes the significant challenges appeal.
Obstacle races have been around for a long time, reports the BBC, but Billy Wilson, also known as Mr Mouse, is largely credited with staging the first commercial race, in Wolverhampton, in 1987.
He said he came up with Tough Guy, a brutal cross country run with a number of perilous obstacles, so competitors could "experience the deprivations of the First World War" and "keep them thinking of those horrors".
Tough Mudder was founded by Englishman Will Dean now based in New York, with Guy Livingstone, in 2010.
The series has gone on to become huge, with more than two million participants to date, races across several countries, big-name sponsorship deals and TV shows in the US and the UK.
In 2015 Tough Mudder recorded a turnover of more than £10.5m ($17.2 million) in the UK alone.
• Pictured: During a Tough Mudder event on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast – the obstacle was called a Fire in your Hole, one of many quirky names for obstacles