Mud-based obstacle courses gaining widespread popularity

Global Business

Mud-based obstacle courses gaining widespread popularity

Mud-based obstacle courses have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. Millions are taking part worldwide, with the numbers surpassing even marathon participants. Last weekend, more than 10,000 people headed to upstate New York to take part in an event put on by Tough Mudder, one of the biggest companies in the industry. CCTV’s Natalie Feary reports.

Mud-based obstacle courses gaining widespread popularity

Mud-based obstacle courses have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. Millions are taking part worldwide, with the numbers surpassing even marathon participants. Last weekend, more than 10,000 people headed to upstate New York to take part in an event put on by Tough Mudder, one of the biggest companies in the industry. CCTV's Natalie Feary reports.

Follow Natalie Feary on Twitter @nataliefeary

There were 20 wet, muddy and painful obstacles at this year’s Tough Mudder event. Participants had to drag themselves through to reach the finish line.

Jumping into icy waters and 10,000 volt electric shocks were among others along the 19-plus kilometer endurance test. Many of those taking the plunge for the first time were hooked.

Tough Mudder has scaled impressive heights since it began in 2010. About 1.5 million people have voluntarily submitted to its courses. In 2013 alone, 700,000 brave souls clambered through 53 events in five countries. Steep ticket prices, costing as much as $220 each, helped the company generate revenues of more than $100 million for the year.

Being flush with cash has helped the company reach the top — the healthy revenue means it has put more money into its obstacles for returning participants.

Tough Mudder has come under attack about the safety of its events, which have been linked to bacterial infections. The mother of a participant who drowned last year is suing the company. Organizers insist they take the necessary precautions.

In true Tough Mudder style, company officials are not content to simply sit on their success. “In five years, we’ll be in 35, 40 countries. We will have a robust offering that is more than just the event,” said Alex Patterson, head of brands for Tough Mudder. “We will have people doing stuff outside of the event, socializing, helping others overcome obstacles as a team. It’s like ice-cream, anyone can like it anywhere.”

Among the prospective markets is Asia, though company executives say they will tread carefully when it comes to the pace of growth. Meanwhile, the race to dominate the global market is heating up. Rival Spartan Race recently began raising private equity, with plans to expand to 42 countries.