Kate St. Hilaire told me her father is a toughmudder. I wasn’t impressed until I found out what that means. Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, 500,000 inspiring participants (25% women), and more than $2.5 million dollars raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder says it’s the premier adventure challenge series in the world.

Those who comple one of these courses are convinced they can do almost anything else. It’s an ultimate physical achievement. In 2012 there will be Tough Mudder courses held in 28 different locations, mostly in the US, but a few overseas. Some have as many as 32 military designed obstacles, including running through fire and hanging electric wires, jumping into pools of water and ice cubes, swimming through mud, climbing walls/ropes/rope ladders, running up large hills (sometimes carrying heavy logs), walking balance beams and ropes over freezing water (one video I saw was held in 38 degrees), going through long and narrow pipe tunnels, walking up a mountain bent over under a net, crawling many yards under 18 inches of barbed wire…you get the idea.

Now check out this video above and decide if you have what it takes to accept this challenge! It was shot by Ryan Tworek who completed the course wearing a head cam, so you can see every obstacle in the October 2011 Virginia event.

I love Ryan’s hot tip about the electric shock obstacle: “Yes, they had 10,000 volts or 3 car batteries hooked up to it and you didn’t know which one’s are live as it’s alternating current! I got hit 3x and you definitely know when you touch one of the live wires! It’s yellow rope with a metal wire in the middle of it.”

Wikipedia’s description of Tough Mudder includes a list of upcoming events, which the New York Times wrote are “more convivial than marathons and triathlons.” Contestants are not timed, and organizers encourage ‘mudders’ to demonstrate teamwork by helping fellow participants over difficult obstacles to complete the course. The prize for completing a Tough Mudder challenge is an official orange sweatband and a free beer. It is estimated that 15-20% of participants do not finish.

You might also want to compare this obstacle course with two others I have written about: the Tough Guy and Spartan Racing. There are also many painful long-distance running events you can explore under the “running” category on the Home Page