Obstacle races are fast growing in popularity and trail runners around the world and chances are, there is one near you. The likes of Savage Race, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniacs, Epics series and other challenging marathon races are loved among athletes and competitors who can’t get enough fitness adventure.
You know, those kinds of races with obstacles designed for your adrenaline to pumped as you crawl through mud, jump through fire, just about anything crazy.
Now, in this article we will be comparing two of the popular challenging obstacle runs in Spartan Race vs Tough Mudder. If you are wondering which one you should go for then this article is for you!
Before we talk about the details of both Spartan race and Tough Mudder, let’s rewind the clock a bit. How did these two powerhouse brands begin?
If you are wondering who invented Spartan race, then he goes by the name of Joe De Sena. He is in fact not just a serial entrepreneur but a long-time avid fan of putting the body strength to a test. He turned his passion for innovation and Spartan was born in 2007. It wasn’t till 2010 though, that the first-ever Spartan competition event was held at the Catamount Outdoor Center in Vermont.
Since then, the Spartan obstacle racer has grown as a sport and brand around the world, picking up lots of fans, sponsorship deals, and TV spots along the way.
Tough Mudder challenging competition is another popular endurance event that was founded by Will Dean and Guy Livingstone in 2010. The first event was held in 2010 at the Beer Creek Ski Resort in the US and it also picked up the pace. It has clocked over 30 million participants and competitors around the globe and a lot of sponsorship and TV deals as well.
It is even a global event that is found in the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, China, UAE, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and many other places.
Let’s now get to the cool stuff, or rather, what Tough Mudder and Spartan Races are all about. What are the similarities and contrasts? Let’s break it down for you:
The first difference you will note with Spartan race and Tough Mudder is the type of events and competitive features in both of them.
For the Spartan Race, there are four main race types in the Spartan race coupled with a few race series, a race for kids, and a number of endurance event types:
This is the shortest distance of the race featuring 3 miles with up to 23 fitness obstacles along the way. It is usually the best race for those looking to test out the Spartan race and see how far you can push your body strength for a start.
Once you have taken on the Spartan Sprint, the Spartan Super is next. This one stretches the rugged terrain to 8+ miles with over 25 miles to go through along the way.
The third race takes the challenge to “beastly” levels. In this category, you will endure over 12 miles of rugged terrain with over 30 obstacles. If you can get past this and the other two races, then you will have earned an achievement known as Spartan Trifecta achievement.
To stretch things even further, Spartan added another race type in 2018 in what is known as Spartan Ultra. This race is meant for those with true endurance keeping in mind that you have to handle over 30 miles of tough terrain with 35+ obstacles between you and the finish line.
If you want more than the race type on the Spartan roster, then there are endurance events you can go for. These are:
The distance of which varies depending on the Spartan endurance events: The Spartan Ultra-endurance event covers over 30 miles, while the Hurricane is more of course time (there is a 4-8, 12, and 24 hour course time). The Agoge, on the other hand, is more of a training program to develop mind, spirit, and body. However, it is not for the novice. It is for those who have gone through something like an endurance event or military training.
Talking of military, Spartan has a series just tailored for the military community. This is known as the Spartan Honor Series and it features a course that runs between 4 to 5 miles.
Spartan has thrown in some stadium series held at some iconic stadia around the world. This series blends the track with things like stair climbing and tons of obstacles that definitely adds some zest.
In love with mountain climbing? Spartan has one mountain series for you. It is like mountain climbing with more than climbing and decent challenges. You will get obstacles and some weights added to the experience.
Kids can also be part of the Spartan experience thanks to a race type tailored for them. It is not only one cool way to exercise but also good for spicing up family time. The race comes in three types depending on your kid’s age:
Tough Mudder has lots of events as well, divided into two broad categories: Race Series and Challenge Series. Here are the events on the Tough Mudder roster:
This is the signature event featuring an 8 to 10-mile challenging course with up to 25 obstacles to overcome.
Debuting in Nashville in 2017, the Tough Mudder 5K is an event that has spread to 25 cities around the globe. It is an event where teams take on 3.1 miles crammed with 13 obstacles along the way
The Mini Mudder is the Spartan Race Kids equivalent for those who for Tough Mudder. It is an event for kids who love taking on adventure and challenges with 1-mile lap and 10+ obstacles to surpass in this.
This is one of the popular events of the Tough Mudder’s race series. It is basically similar to the signature Tough Mudder (8-10 mile) event, only that it is timed.
As the name suggests, things get hotter on this race series. It is a teamwork event entailing 12 hours of extreme work with as much as 5 miles coupled with up to 20 obstacles to go past (through the night).
Things get even harder with the World Toughest Mudder! Unlike the others, it is a race designed to put you through 24 hours of running in 5 mile looped course. If you can complete the most laps then you are declared a winner.
This is one other race series and it is meant to test the world’s fittest athletes. The challenge ahead is a one-mile course with tons of obstacles and tough workouts.
One other factor in picking up an obstacle race is, of course, the kinds of hurdles you will find along the way. Now, the two races have different kinds of standard obstacles that make them unique but then they keep livening up events with some new creative ones.
There is a notable difference between the Spartan Race and the Tough Mudder when it comes to the way the obstacles are designed. Most of the Spartan Race obstacles are often designed to challenge individual strength whereas in Tough Mudder, it is mostly about what you fear and you will mostly need teamwork to go through obstacles.
Some of the standard obstacles you will get in the Spartan race are things like:
The Atlas carry you will need to pick up a huge stone, carry it to the flag mounted on the opposite side from where you started, do some burpees then go back to the started
It is a must complete challenge where you are required to crawl through a series of lowly placed barbed wires
It is another mandatory challenge and in this, you are given a bucket to fill with rocks. Then you are supposed to carry it on a specified course and back. You fail you repeat!
Yes, it is a jump through a flame!
The challenge in this obstacle is to hoist weight up by pulling a rope then let it down slowly without a bang.
This obstacle is normally in the early stages of a Spartan race and it is meant to give you a feel of what is coming ahead. In the obstacle, you will need to go over the first wall, under the next and through the third.
Rope climbing is nothing new but in the Spartan race, the challenge is taken a notch higher. You have to climb a 16 feet rope to ring a bell. It isn’t exactly easy with mud, sweat, and water making the climb slippery
In this challenge, you will be given a target and your goal is to hit the target with a spear from a distance
The goal, in this case, is to pull a tire based on a few rules e.g pulling while sitting down.
Here you will be required to traverse a wall with footholds and handholds then finish it by ringing a bell
In this obstacle, you will be asked to crawl through a rope with a pool of water under you. You can’t touch the water unless you are at the top of the rope.
It is a climb over an 8-foot wall. It isn’t that easy though!
Tough Mudder obstacles also tend to vary but there are some classic ones that you should be prepared for:
It is a revamped version of the 1.0 where you jump through a wooden bucket filled with ice! The beauty is that at times, you don’t know you are jumping into ice
You will have to mount then climb down a 15-foot wooden wall using a slippery rope.
In this challenge, you have to conquer a 10-foot wall without help
In this one, you have to squeeze yourself under a water liner that happens to also push you to the ground.
In this challenge, you are supposed to go through a channel as yo
In the cage crawl, you will navigate through a ditch filled with muddy cold water. The ditch is also caged by a fence on top in a way that you can swallow the water!
Armed with two rings on your hand, the objective of this obstacle is transverse sideways along a series of pegs. They are slippery-one error and you are down!
Also known as a shock in the rocks, this is certainly the most feared of the Spartan race obstacles. You will have to crawl through a watered down tarp with electric wires hanging over it and barbed wire just above you. Touch the wire and you feel the shock that is even made worse by the water below you.
It is similar to the electric eel but in this one, you will run through hanging electric wires.
It is one of the obstacles you get when you are tired and this is when you are supposed to sprint up a steep and slippery half pipe.
In this challenge, you will be shot through a 30-foot water slide with blazing fire right at the end of the channel.
In the fire walker, you will run past pits of fire with smoke making it hard for you to breath.
The new version of the Funky Monkey has monkey bars tweaked to make it even more exciting and challenging. It is about grabbing, swinging, going under and much more.
The hanging tough is a bit similar to the Funky Monkey challenge. You are to swing from one ring to the other without falling to into the pool of water below you.
This is a challenge that tests your strength. You grab a log and carry it on a selected part of the course
This one is a challenge for your fingers. You will have to climb along a wooden beam while hanging-mostly by your fingers.
This challenge is a fan favorite among many mudders. The challenge is pretty straightforward. Swing like Tarzan and touch a bell at the end of your trajectory line.
Again, you have a wall as an obstacle but not a vertical one. It is inclined at a 45-degree angle.
The Liberator challenge entails climbing a pegboard with the help of some wooden sticks that fit into holes on the wall.
The challenge here is to crawl through a dark trench dug in the ground. It is not just dark, it also happens to be narrow and curvy.
This one is the classic challenge of navigating on a narrow wood plank standing straight up. It isn’t anything new but you will fall into a pool of water if lose your balance.
It is another fun obstacle but not if you are scared of heights and water. The challenge is to jump into the water from 12 feet high then swim across the pool.
In terms of location, there isn’t much of a difference given that most of the events are set in natural terrains such as farms, motocross tracks, ski slopes etc. That said, Spartan Race has a stadium series where you get to experience what it feels like competing in some of the best stadia around.
Last but not least, how much does it cost to participate in these two events? The costs of the two races vary depending on the event but they are almost identical. In fact, it would cost you an average of $120 to $300 to participate in any of the two. Want to save some bucks on the events?
Spartan Race has season passes that can help you save some bucks. Also, you can always save by buying tickets earlier or joining in as a volunteer in one race and get a free pass to another race in the future. You should also check out for coupons or group ons before you sign up.
That’s pretty much a detailed review and comparison between the Spartan Race and the Tough Mudder. Which race is good for you? You now know a thing or two about both brands. So, you can take your pick and put yourself to the challenge!
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