Day 101 (M, 110411) — Mud Run Comparisons; Tips for a Successful Mud Run

I have now participated in four mud runs.

The first was the Warrior Dash in May 2010. My first one ever. I had not run a step in probably 18-20 years and it about killed me, even though I took almost 50 minutes to go just 3.1 miles (5k).

The second was the 6.2 miles (10k) Original Mud Run in Ft. Worth, TX in November 2010. Much longer but by then I had been running (slowly) for a few months so I weathered it better than the Warrior Dash.

The third was the Tough Mudder in Austin in January. This one as 10.2 miles (more or less). Much longer and MUCH colder. Wow. The pit filled with water and ICE was a (polar) bear!

The fourth was another Original Mud Run in Ft. Worth yesterday morning. Again, it was 6.2 miles (10k) but this time I improved a lot over my previous results. My overall time fell by 14 minutes and my pace fell by two minutes per mile.

UPDATE: I got results and pics here! =)

So, how do these three races compare?  Let’s go to the tape:

Best organized? Original Mud Run.  They have been doing this the longest (13 years?) and have their stuff down pat.  Simple rules and instructions plus the course is well laid out and easy to follow.

Toughest? Tough Mudder had more obstacles (easy to do when you have 4 more miles to fit them in) and LOTS more up-and-down hills, climbing, upper-body-strength-requiring activities.

Most competitive? The competitive heats of the Original Mud Run seem to have the most gung-ho participants but I would not swear to that.

Most fun? Tough Mudder.  They encourage cooperation on the website, in their pre-race information, and in the instructions before the race starts.  It works.  Even if you are not running with friends, total strangers will help you navigate the obstacles and give you both a hand up and a round of applause.

Most expensive? Tough Mudder by about $40.

Would I do it again?

  • Tough Mudderyes
  • Original Mud Runyes
  • Warrior Dashno

I don’t think I’ll do short ones (sub-5 mile runs like the Warrior Dash or Jailbreak) anymore just because it isn’t worth the money to me.

Overall, I think the Tough Mudder is my favorite of the bunch.



  1. Help each other. Even if it’s just an encouraging word, help.  If someone is having trouble with an obstacle, help them.  If it’s you, ask for help rather than give up and go around.  Camaraderie is easy to generate at these events if you try and it definitely makes it a lot more fun.
  2. No fatigues and boots. I know some of the races talk about wearing cammies/fatigues/utes and combat boots.  There is no need to wear any of that unless you are trying to challenge yourself a bit extra.  Want to carry ten+ extra pounds of water weight as you slog through the mud and muck?  Go for it.  But you most certainly do NOT need to wear those things to “protect” yourself  . . . unless you are delicate in which case what the heck are you doing participating in a mud run in the first place?
  3. No pockets. In fact, don’t wear anything with pockets.  Why?  Because when you come up out of the water they may be filled with water and muck.  Adding extra weight is not as much fun as you may think. 😉
  4. No jewelry. I came with an inch of losing my wedding ring on my first mud run.  The mud sucks these things off of your hands and neck, and the obstacles do their damnedest to grab hold of them as well.  Leave them at home or in your bag.
  5. Run early. Later in the day, the course is torn up from the thousand people who have run it before you.  Try to get into the earliest heat on the earliest day that you can.  A fresh course is a better course.
  6. SMILE. This is fun, remember? =)

I hope the reviews above and the tips below help you out if you are considering a mud run.  I encourage you to do it.  Big or small, long or short, ultimate or deliberately weekend warrior, it doesn’t matter; the point is to accomplish something.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll hunger for more . . . and that’s a good thing.

I walked for much of the three miles of the Warrior Dash, but I was damned proud to have done it.  Even more so for finishing the Tough Mudder in January and for improving on my Original Mud Run performance from one race to another.

If I can do it, you can.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them or to point you in the right direction.


Breakfast: protein shake, kombucha, AGG

Lunch: half of a Freebirds burrito (double steak, etc.), Cissus, AGG

Freebirds burrito bowl

Freebirds burrito bowl

Dinner: two pork chops, romaine salad with bacon ranch, Baco’s, and sliced, cold steak

Other food throughout the day: black coffee


14 responses to “Day 101 (M, 110411) — Mud Run Comparisons; Tips for a Successful Mud Run

  1. I did the Warrior Dash just this past weekend (4/16/11) and LOVED it, and like you said, I walked some, jogged some, was out of shape, but I HUNGER for more and want to push my limits and get back in shape again, and will try these others you suggested!

    • I’m with you, Josh.

      The WD will always be important because it was the first one I did and it introduced me to the concept.

      As I mentioned, however, now that my conditioning is a bit better I will probably not do the shorter runs just because I can get more bang for my buck by cutting them out and just doing the longer ones.

      However you choose to approach it, I’m glad you enjoyed it. They are a blast and I hope you keep runnin’ and gunnin’. =)

      Good luck and work strong!

      New John

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  3. I’m doing my first mud run next weekend…Warrior Dash. Any suggestions on which would be better for running shoes? I have a pair of vibrams five fingers which I figured would be good b/c they would be able to hold all the water and muck that trail shoes will but might not have the same traction or just an old pair of trail running shoes that I can toss?? Any input appreciated. Thanks – Amity

    • Vibrams are my choice by far. Far far far. So long as you are comfortable doing 3 miles in them, and they fit well enough that they won’t come off, I suggest using them.

      Remember to avoid pockets and jewelry. Pockets because bringing along 10 pounds of water out of a pool/stream/mud pit sucks. Jewelry because it is way too easy to lose a ring or snag a necklace during the event.

      I’ve found no need to wear “protective” clothing. It gets really heavy and has not been necessary. YMMV depending on your ability and your tolerance for nicks and scrapes. Ditto for wearing gloves.

      Good luck and let me(and the DB board) know how it goes, ok? =)

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  6. I know this is an older post, but the Spartan Race series is by far the toughest I’ve done. I recently ran the Super Spartan (8 miles and 36 obstacles) in Glen Rose on the 3rd. A Brutal race, more difficult than the tough mudder, even though its slightly shorter. They are doing the Spartan Beast race in the same locale next December (10+ miles) and I intend to train for that race.

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  12. We just did the Houston Original Mud Run and it was incredibly disorganized and poorly done. The first couple miles were on blacktop before we ever reached an obstacle. Long lines for obstacles b/c they did not check start times and people who arrived early went before their designated starts. Despite ordering small tees they only had L and XL left. At the end, they had NO water despite knowing how many people were registered plus extras. We were mid-day, so there were hundreds of runners after us also with no water at the end after a 10K. Bag system was not secure — shld have had runners put bib numbers down and check when picking up. And, our run started at least 45 minutes late so we stood in the blazing sun for well over an hour before starting. Many water stops along the way had no water, and no port-o-johns over the 10K course. A joke of a business enterprise. Curious how much money even goes to their charity. They never say.

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