Sunday, February 6, 2011

This Mudder Not Tough Enough?

Last spring, I flirted with the idea of signing up for the very first Tough Mudder event held in California, but ultimately chickened out decided against it. Tough Mudder certainly looks difficult...

...but many CrossFit enthusiasts who've completed the race have reported that the event isn't nearly as challenging as advertised. (Case in point: The day after finishing Tough Mudder, the team from CrossFit York reconvened at their gym to crank out "three rounds of 10 kettlebell swings, 20 push-ups, 30 sit-ups and 40 double-unders.") There are plenty of other races that are similar to Tough Mudder (e.g., ToughGuy, Warrior Dash, etc.) -- but none of them appear to be much more difficult.

So if you're a hardcore CrossFitting adventure-racer who wants a real challenge, what's a decent alternative to the too-tame Mudder?

Try the "Death Race":

Unlike the David Carradine movie, this Death Race (probably) doesn't involve reckless driving and booby traps. Even so, it sounds awesome. Read this if you don't believe me.

While only 20-25% of Tough Mudder participants can't finish that event, a whopping 80+% of Death Race participants fail to complete this combination of "'Survivor' meets 'Jackass.'" The specifics are kept secret, but a previous race involved navigating "10 miles of mountain trails, ravines, lakes, underbrush and a burnt-out thicket known as the Labyrinth."
The physical challenges included digging holes, chopping wood and hauling encumbrances like bicycles, tree stumps and buckets of gravel. The riddles included naming American presidents, assembling Lego structures from memory and cooking without modern tools. Each of the 14 tasks was expected to take two hours. A 24-hour time limit was set. Mathematically speaking, the designers considered their course all but impossible.
I'm sure the punishing mental and physical demands and "unknown and unknowable" nature of the Death Race attract a lot of CrossFit junkies (like this guy). Plus, it certainly appears to be significantly more challenging than Tough Mudder. (I can wade through mud, but I certainly can't name all the U.S. Presidents.) As ultrarunner Steven Tursi wrote, Tough Mudder and its ilk can't hold a candle to the Death Race.

(Still: The chances of me taking part in this? Slim to none.)