More people took part in Tough Mudder last year than the London Marathon – fact.
Known as “the toughest event on the planet”, its obstacles play on common human fears, such as fire, water, electricity and heights. And it seems we can’t get enough!
Since the first challenge in 2010, more than 2.5 million people worldwide have participated in Tough Mudder events, making it one of the world’s fastest-growing athletic activities in the world.
We talk to Tough Mudder founder Will Dean about business success, building a loyal fanbase and his plans to enter the fitness studio market…
What is Tough Mudder all about?
Tough Mudder is 10-12 miles of mud and 20+ obstacles designed to drag you out of your comfort zone. It isn’t about how fast you can cross the finish line but about pushing yourself. It’s about teamwork, camaraderie, and accomplishing something extraordinary.
How did Tough Mudder begin?
I founded Tough Mudder in 2010 with my business partner Guy Livingstone. We were two British guys living in New York. I had developed the idea while studying at Harvard Business School. We held the first Tough Mudder event in May 2010 in the US – promoted exclusively through Facebook advertising and word of mouth. The event drew more than 4,500 participants.
How many territories do you now operate in?
We held an additional two events in 2010 in Northern California and New Jersey. The next year, we held 14 events throughout the US. In 2012, we held 35 events in four countries. We had more than 700,000 participants in 2013, with events in the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany.
In 2014 we expanded to Ireland and New Zealand. In October 2016 we launched in Bali and in December we ran our first event in the Middle East at the Hamdan Sports Complex.
What’s the toughest challenge to date?
We have a 24-hour obstacle course in the Nevada Desert. The toughest challenge on the planet.
What’s the ratio between men and women?
60% male and 40% female. In 2013 we launched Mudderella, a female-focused mud run but we canned it because women like the tough events just as much as the guys.
We hear there’s plans to launch a studio?
We will be launching a chain of fitness boutiques in the US in 2017 to expand the brand beyond obstacle course racing events.
Tell us more about the TV show?
We are thrilled to expand our video content distribution footprint globally with Sky to bring the Tough Mudder brand and active lifestyle to millions more people throughout the UK.
As one of the leaders of video content in the sports industry, our partnership will allow us to continue to reach a truly global audience.
Tell us about the tattoos?
We offer customers the ability to get the Tough Mudder logo tattoo’d on their body. To date over 10,000 participants have got Tough Mudder tattoos. That’s a dedicated community!
What’s the easiest challenge?
We offer a Mudder Half. 5 miles, 13 obstacles. No ice, no electricity. Simply a fun experience.
How should we reward a Tough Mudder challenge?
With a celebratory pint.