People love Tough Mudder’s why is that? This is something a lot of people ask about obstacle course racing or any challenge or such event. There are a number of factors which come into play but for now lets start with mud runs and the motivation behind it and how this has captured the imagination of so many people to become so popular.
First of all a lot of this is due to childhood fantasy and the challenge factor. Growing up you are always drawn to a challenge and naturally have enraged your parents/mother by coming in covered in grass/mud/dirt with scuff marks or scrapes and the biggest smile on your face. Even if something bad happened it became a badge of honour especially if you were challenged by a sibling or friend and endured.
These aspects are what makes Tough Mudder or Spartan racers or any such event attractive, For TM’s it will be the challenge of doing it with a friend or team, this is part and parcel of becoming accepted and achieving status. The status of completing a challenge for personal satisfaction and to be part of a group of people who have achieved a badge of honour, in the Tough Mudder’s case it’s the t-shirt and the coveted orange head band!
This added benefit of doing physically demanding feats you cannot normally do and sometimes in very challenging environments. This adds to the status and image of the participant that they have done something unique and challenging. To validate the achievement and the status your achievement is shared through social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Creating a personal documentary and posting this on Youtube makes the event more riveting which shows of the demand and challenge as you have experienced it.
For this to be understood look at social behaviour and how this urge to belong creates its own demand and environment. People like to belong, whether it’s part of a group as friends, at work in departments, as families, hobbies, interests, previous associations like the military or anything to make them feel validated and that they are included and belong.
Human beings are social by nature they have an innate urge to be part of something, for this to feel even more real validation is important. This will normally be due to doing something to achieve a status within a group.
Achieving this status requires a challenge or task to be competed which once done will validate your capability and prove your status and prove your worth. It doesn’t matter which group you belong to these dynamics are the same.
To help cement your status social validation is achieved and making it public on social networking services confirms your achievement and worth to be part of a group. With more demanding challenges comes higher status and feeling of self-worth. These are well known principles which are why any such event will work but with Tough Mudder there is an added element, camaraderie.
Going through the challenge TM follows a specific formula which means it binds all participants together regardless of fitness, capability, age, sex or race. This is done from the minute you sign up to the time you finish. This is done using the following steps;
- Target market
- Registration and cut off time.
- Waiver forms
- Creating a team
- Promise of reward
- Status confirmation
- Return challenge
Majority of mudder contestants are male 76% and the age demographic is from 24 -45 with the average age being 29 years old. This is an active market from a financial perspective as this will be the age group with a fair amount of disposable income and enough stupidity to go diving through mud, get electrocuted, freeze their balls off (figurative for some) and pay for the privilege to do it again and again. There is a large group of women who are also taking part and they too are finding the challenge just as exciting and rewarding.
This is done using viral marketing to show off the challenges using media distribution. Its done voluntarily through friends who have done Tough Mudder’s and the biggest is the challenge in the videos. They show what people have done and this triggers the “pissing contest” syndrome of “I can do this”!
The bragging rights that go with doing an event is what creates expectation for other people and the pictures and videos of the obstacles raise the questions that people ask once they have signed up.
These expectations and fears can be either enhanced or dismissed by talking to other mudder’s and most newbies feel comforted when they join the chat and have questions answered by other mudder’s who are in the know and are willing to help.
Registration and cut off time
To make the events manageable and to cope with all of the visitors and participants there is a cut off time for registration. This gives TM an idea how to organise parking, event staff, catering demand, base camp space area etc. The registration process is the same as a lot of event booking processes. The earlier you book the better pricing you get and the earlier time slot you can be assigned to.
TM releases on a busy day up to 200 mudder’s every 15 minutes to attempt the course. On slower days the time windows are increased to 20 minutes. The other advantage is that with people booking earlier it makes things easier to plan and the later bookings help with making the event more profitable.
These are very important from a insurance and liability point of view but also to make people aware that the event has inherently carry risk. For public participation you need insurance but also agreement that the person agrees with the requirements of the event. By making this something people have to initial when registering the idea of risk is highlighted and increases the attractiveness of doing an event and the dare factor.
If there was just one tick box to agree most people wouldn’t think twice about it, by having multiple points to initial plus the requirement to sign and bring a death waiver it highlights the fact that it is a challenge and makes it more exciting.
There are many sports which are just as dangerous but the registration process doesn’t highlight this as much and people become complacent and bored with the process and it becomes a silly hiccup in getting signed up.
Creating a team
There are two ways to take part in a Tough Mudder, you can run solo or you can create a team when you register for an event. It is best to have a group of people already agreed tand willing to sign up to do a Tough Mudder. This does two things; it creates excitement for the event and helps people stay involved to train for the day.
If you’re determined enough you can sign up as a solo mudder. You have to be dedicated in your training and your focus and have the confidence to be able to go to an event and take part. A lot of people run solo and end up joining up with other people on the course to help them all get assistance over obstacles. Running solo also means you have less pressure and can enjoy the event a lot more and be more relaxed about it.
When you sign up as a team there is a big chance that other people will back out. This can be anything from injuries or a certain amount of doubt which creeps in as a confident wanes. If a good group have signed up together and they train together there is a stronger look the possibility that there will do the course together and have a very good time.
It also means that when you back out of a team that you will be seen as the odd one out. The enjoyable thing about finishing in a team is of post event celebration and the obvious picture opportunity with the well-deserved beer, the space age blanket and their orange headband.
Promise of reward
Tough mudder’s have four things which you get as part of completing an event. They are;
- Orange Tough Mudder headband
- Bragging rights
These prove that you have completed a tough mudder event and have earned the right to wear the T-shirt, display the headband, and enjoy the beer. Last but not least – to have bragging rights. There is nothing better than sitting around the table and joking and talking about the challenge. What went wrong, what went right or easy and what was bad. You also have the scrapes, pain and discomfort you had to go through. These are memories that live forever, especially after your first one.
By only allowing the orange headband and the black T-shirt with the tough mudder logo to be given to mudder’s who have completed an event it makes sure that the kudos is yours. There have been cases where people have sold headbands and t=shirts on eBay, This was quickly noticed ,got low bids but overall disgusts everyone who takes part in TM’s as you demean the value of the experience and also the ethos of TM.
TM has a very strong social media presence and coupled with the camaraderie, the expectation and the excitement of doing an event they also make sure they share each event. The pictures that go up on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and that people share themselves helped this become a movement of 1 million participants.
This also helped to raise money for many good causes, the main beneficiaries are the Wounded Warrior project in the US and Help for Heroes in the UK.
What also makes TM such a challenge is that the course was created by former SAS personnel, this creates a definite challenge in people as they want to prove they can complete it. It creates an buzz around it as people expect it to be hard, they also know that working together is a requirement and having the charities associated creates a phenomenal good feeling around the events.
I have completed 3 Tough Mudder’s so far, each one was challenging in its own right. With each one my physical capability has increased but I also now place more demand on myself to complete as much of the course obstacles myself to test capability.
This personal challenge approach is something all repeat mudder’s work towards. Whenever you go into the muddernation chat room people talk about their upcoming events, how to cope, what training to do, what to expect. You also have muddder’s abandoned by team mates but they still go through with it, these are the people I love to help. They are the true mudders, repeat mudders, they are my mudders.
The growing team of people involved in mudtap are repeat mudders, they want others to succeed, we have become friends separated by time zones, continents but united in mud, sweat tears and beers. Each one has their own story. Over the coming months you will hear about them. Come back and learn more about us and change your life for the better.