As fun as mud runs can be, there is also a big reason why they all have you sign consent forms: There are 5 very real dangers in all of them and the more advanced the race, the more likely one of them can happen.
I actually had 1 major one on a Tough Mudder I did in 2017 and will explain that accident plus the other common dangers these events pose.
But many of these risks are preventable!
People who are are in decent shape who have never ran through a mud run before will find this problem hits pretty quick and it can happen during ANY season the race takes place. Here are ways to prevent yourself from being exhausted and dehydrated:
- Take frequent breaks when you’re on the course, especially when you’re a beginner to mud runs.
- If you’re doing one of these events when it’s hot and sunny, try to wear a hat and pick areas to run through where there’s shade or when you take a break, sit in a nearby shade.
- Carry a hydration pack!
There is a huge danger of diseases on mud runs.
Imagine running through dirty water with an open wound or scratch. Then think about all the people before you who ran through there who may have also had that. Then that’s mixed in with the water you’re now running through. You can catch different diseases that can cause diarrhea, sickness and skin infections. To prevent those problems:
- Don’t ever drink or swallow any of the dirty water. Only drink clean water at water stations or from your hydration pack! Should you accidentally get any of this in your mouth, use clean water to get it out. Keep hydrogen peroxide in your hydration pack and rubbing alcohol pads or a bottle just in case.
- You’re going to have to have a strong immune system! You may not always be able to avoid getting scratched, but if you have a strong immune system (drink vitamin C, ginger tea if possible and eat garlic!), any dangerous dirt that touches your skin or potential diseases won’t be as likely to hurt you if your immune system is strong.
3) Injuries (slips, falls).
Other than diseases and exhaustion (dehydration included), injury is the most likely thing that can happen on mud runs if you’re not careful. Sprained joints/muscles, any typical injuries or serious ones are all possible. This is what happened to me on the Tough Mudder I did.
- Before any mud run, warm up your body and make sure you stretch it well! Also make sure to do it several times during the race. You are going to get tired throughout the course, especially on very long ones like the Spartan Super and your muscles will stiffen up so keep stretching them on breaks.
- Wear trail running sneakers! The most common injuries happen on these events when people don’t wear the right shoes. Slipping on the dirt AND the obstacles is very common and these can easily lead to sprained ankles or worse. Trail running sneakers like these can help you maintain a good balance in the most dangerous areas and if you also add in socks that are safe for mud runs, you’re going to have less injuries.
4) Losing expensive equipment like cameras!
There are many people who go through these events with things like GoPro cameras that are attached to their head and chest. Most of the time, the equipment that’s meant to hold these cameras works, but on mud runs, there are times where you can fall on the ground and break it or lose it if you’re going underwater.
I actually had this happen on the first 5K Spartan Race I did where I had to dive underneath dirty water while with a camera on top of my head. When I came out, it was gone! Luckily the strap that was attached to my head which also fell of caught onto my foot, but if it didn’t, it would have been very difficult to find it because it’s impossible to see anything in that water!
- If you’re diving underwater while keeping this camera, I really recommend you take it off and either hold on to it as well as tie the strap onto your hand or put it in a backpack.
- If you’re going through an obstacle where it can fall of, pay attention to your safety first. If it falls of, remember where it fell and then when you finish the obstacle, then go and pick it up.
I even remember an obstacle on a Tough Mudder I did where I was waiting in line to complete an obstacle that involved falling into water and the person in front of me was recording himself on his GoPro giving his email and address in case he lost his.
5) Death in a mud run. Can it actually happen?
I have only heard of 1 case where someone died on a mud run and it was on a very advanced course and those places are where the biggest risk is. You may be climbing a large obstacle and fall or you may slip the wrong way. Unfortunately there is a risk of this happening if you’re not careful, but you shouldn’t let this freak you out:
- Typically the biggest risks are at obstacles but every obstacle has supervisors standing by just in case someone needs help.
- Risks of injuries and even death are more likely to happen when people aren’t properly prepared. When you’re going through dangerous obstacles, make sure to take your time. The worst injuries happen to people who aren’t flexible or try to rush through obstacles. If it rains, expect the course to get a lot more dangerous. In that case, be even slower on every obstacle and even during the regular course. Avoid stepping on rocks especially when it’s wet!
- Wear protective gear like elbow and knee pads. While they don’t protect your whole body, if you fall from a height, these joints take the most damage.
- Do regular races (MudmanX) that don’t have dangerous obstacles like the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder if you’re very worried about injury. There’s very small risks there.
All these races have dangers in them.
Even advanced and experienced athletes can get injured. From doing many of these races, I have found that the safest way to prevent them isn’t just to stretch and hydrate, but to also be slow. Rushing in these races is very risky.
The faster you go through the courses means the less likely you can see where you’re stepping or jumping and a lot of the more experienced athletes actually make that mistake. Try not to make a certain time on these courses, but instead try to have fun while making sure you pass the course without any injuries!