Rise of The Sufferfests. A Review From an Avid Mud Runner.

For a short period of time, I was seeing ads on Facebook promoting a documentary which examined the world ofrise of the sufferfests review mud running. It was called “Rise of The Sufferfests” and it examined why people are so interested in obstacle course racing (OCR) and why this is a growing sport.

To be honest, even though I would see ads for it multiple times, I felt I didn’t need to watch it because, what could I possibly learn from it?

But it had a lot of fans and a lot of positive feedback, so recently, I purchased a digital copy of it from Amazon and I just finished viewing the 1 hour 30 minute+ documentary.

Here is my review of the documentary…

For the most part, the core of the documentary centers around the creator of it, a journalist named Scott Keneally whose aiming to find out why the sport of obstacle racing is so popular.

The 3 most common reasons throughout the documentary discovered that people do this stuff for are:

1) Because most of the people who do these races live normal mundane lives…

There isn’t really anything being experienced that is primal or challenging and these obstacle races make up for that. 

A lot of people aren’t able to compete or travel and do physical challenges outside their normal lives and possibly the gym, so having access to these events makes them live out this “subconscious” need to live and put themselves in danger to feel alive basically.

2) There is an element of narcissism for a lot of people who do this stuff.

People want others (on social media usually) to see what they’ve done and get appreciation for it basically. This explains a lot about why the Tough Mudder page on Facebook for example has so many fans and likes.

The same goes for Spartan Races and these other mud runs too.

In the documentary, the person who points out this theory of narcissism is actually one of the highest tier athletes in this sport whose name is Amelia Boon. I’ve never heard of her until this documentary but she is an amazing athlete who does this for her own fun but basically doesn’t seem to be a fan of people who like to show of that they do this.

3) And finally, the reason I most resonate with:

People just want to challenge themselves. They want to explore new things and see what they can take. That’s basically me in a nutshell when it comes to obstacle races. 

I don’t care about being filmed, nor do I prefer it, to me I just want to have skills that stand tests like being able to pass rough terrain and challenges. It makes me feel more alive, and frankly, as one of the interviewees in the documentary said (Laird Hamilton, tsunami surfer), we appreciate life more from doing this type of stuff.

Now after the documentary asks about this main question, there’s pieces where I found some very interesting information, such as the history and facts of it and some stuff I found quite surprising. For example:

1) The supposed original creator of these races was a guy whose nicknamed “The Mouse” and he is quite a character (to say the least). He basically started making these obstacles in his “large” backyard which slowly attracted a bunch of people overtime and this led him to make it an event, called the Tough Guy which until the documentary I had never heard of, but based on what I saw, it may be more difficult the more mainstream OCR’s out there.

But the man who made it, wasn’t so much interested in taking it mainstream as much as he had a passion for putting people through the ordeals he set up to test them.

Now through this idea supposedly, the creator of Tough Mudder was the one who took the concept, mixed with the challenges British Special Forces go through and created the event which would then become arguably the most popular OCR in the world.

2) There were 1,000’s of OCR’s held last year and the sport is growing.

3) Speaking of sports, the creator of the Spartan Race, one of the most popular OCR’s wants to see the event held in the Olympics. 

4) There was a part towards the second half of the documentary which talked about injuries and deaths in these things, and with the exception of one unfortunate death taking place during Tough Mudder, when it comes to stats, OCR’s are actually safer than marathons and triathlons and when you think about it, it makes sense.  

5) About 30% or more of the contestants are women. Speaking from experience, I do see a lot of women on every OCR I do. 

6) This industry has grossed half a billion dollars in sales. Now I don’t remember if it was for a year or overall since their beginning. 

7) OCR’s are growing and I can attest to that. 

8) There is even some talks about how many of the fans who follow this “sport” are quite fanatical about it and downright go with it in a cult like behavior. I do admit, I have seen “clubs” of people dressed the same way who act a bit over the top when doing these things. 

Overall, is it a documentary worth watching?

I have to say, I enjoyed Rise of The Sufferfests. It is from what I know it is the first documentary of it’s kind which talks about this industry. 

It doesn’t make fun of it, nor does it endorse it, but rather gives several points of views from people who enjoy doing them and ties it into the heart of the reason that people are so enthralled to try these events. 

These OCR’s have been a bit of an acquired taste for me. The first 4 I did, were not to my liking because they didn’t seem creative or challenging enough, but once I did the Spartan Super, I became pretty fascinated with challenging myself further which is why in about a month, I will be doing the 12 mile Spartan Beast.

There is indeed a popular market for OCR’s and frankly, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. If stats show right, these races are only getting more and more popular. 

Perhaps one day, Rise of the Sufferfests will be seen as a pioneer documentary that was the first to truly explore the world of OCR’s.

Now I have 2 questions for you all!

Tough Mudder 2017. Will You be Ready For These 5 New Obstacles?

I follow Tough Mudder’s page on Facebook and they’ve been advertising new obstacles in 2017 recently, and since I’ve done this race before and want to do it again, I figured I should investigate what these new challenges will be and there are 5.

The new obstacles to be featured on Tough Mudder in 2017:

1) Augustus Gloop:

You may enter through water or just a wet area, but your object is to get inside a vertical tube and climb it. However, the challenge of this is that there’s water pouring on you as you do it and the object is to get over the tube. 

Usually challenges in Tough Mudder involving tubes have you go through them either horizontally, when you crawl, or in my case, sliding down. This is the first time, there’s a tube related challenge that has you climbing up.

Now if you have claustrophobia like I do somewhat, you may actually find that it’s not too bad as long as you focus on climbing.

One thing you should also do is avoiding looking up to avoid having the water hit your face of go in your nose, otherwise it can create a drowning sensation. You can practice this when you take showers, by avoiding looking up and if you do for whatever reason, you’ll know what that sensation feels like and be able to avoid panic.

2) Kong: 

You have to swing across from one end to another via the type of rings you see people do exercises on in gymnastics. Having failed in this type of challenge when I did the Spartan Super, I can tell you that these things are deceptively slippery and hard to hold onto. 

But in Kong, you have to swing across about 5 or 6 of them and they are quite far from one another so when I say swing, I really mean swinging FAR, otherwise you just won’t be able to reach the next one.

The key to this may be to first maintain a STRONG grip and stamina and you practice that through these exercises, but if you can start this obstacle and get a very strong swinging momentum from the start, you will have better chances of finishing it faster and maintaining your stamina throughout each swing, vs missing it, swinging back and then hoping to catch the next ring on the next swing across.

3) Funky Monkey (2017):

Funky Monkey is one of those challenges that gets changed very often. When I did it, you had to climb monkey bars upward, then work your way down through a series of other poles and bars which really tested your grip.

Now in 2017, they’re changing it again and this time, it’ll still start with monkey bars, but at the top, you’ll have to grab a circular ring, turn yourself using your body to get to the next rings. These rings are huge, but the idea is to turn them like wheels until you reach the end of this challenge.

This type of wheel challenge is actually seen commonly on the Savage Race so if you need an idea of what it can look like, that’s a mud run worth looking into.

4) Artic Enema (2017):

Like Funky Monkey, Artic Enema is also one of those challenges that gets changed. Before you used to slide into freezing water. Now you slide into it through the same tubes you used to climb in the Augustus Gloop. These tubes have you slipping downward into the icy water, coming out, and having to go through about 20 feet of it. And there’s a ton of ice there too, so that certainly “helps”.

You will need to practice by taking cold showers and getting used to the freezing sensation.

5) Snot Rocket: 

This is supposedly only for “Legionaries” of Tough Mudder, but it is the pre challenge to the Augustus Gloop. It is a look alike of the cage crawl (possibly the harder version, rain man) challenge where you’re submerged everywhere but your head, but here this obstacle leads into the Augustus Gloop. 

More challenges than this!? 

It’s very likely there’s more than just 5 new challenges on Tough Mudder in 2017, but other than these 4-5 new ones, the rest will most likely be for Legionnaire members. They are usually the ones who pretest the new obstacles that come out before they become available to the regular runners. 

Now if you’ve never done this race before, what you need to know is the following:

1) Here is the general obstacle information about it. Despite there being new challenges, they’re just upgrades from certain old ones this race has had. But for the most part, 90% of the usual challenges will be the same in 2017.

2) First time runner through this race? Get prepared for it here. If you’re completely out of shape, start at least 3 months before the race event and if you are active, in shape, you’ll need a few weeks to specifically get your body ready.

3) Remember to wear some protective and danger reducing gear (scratches, injuries, slips, ect…). Here is a list of protective gear I wear on EVERY mud run I do and frankly, I would recommend everyone wear those things.

4) Despite giving you an overall obstacle list, I’d recommend you read about my Tough Mudder experience and the things I learned from it. You may find that it also helps you on yours.

I am planning on doing the night run in 2017 so the next time I post a new update on this race, I just may have to post the pictures and videos in night vision mode 😉

If you are a legionnaire to this race or have gone through all the new challenges in 2017, please share what it was like! I’ll be sure to personally update the obstacles post race. 

I personally can’t wait to try each of the new ones and challenge myself with the night race. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it’ll be to do it in the dark, but if you enjoy challenging yourself (like I always do), consider doing the night version as well!

Update: Many of these new obstacles I listed were in a second Tough Mudder I did. But I will say, the ones in this event weren’t as fun as in the first one. I hope they return to previous obstacles in a future race I’ll do.

Are There Any Mud Runs For Women? Why Yes There Are!

While just about every popular mud run will have both genders running through, there are those designed for only women. We’ll go over 2 of the most popular races you can partake in if you’re a female! 

The first is the “Dirty Girl Mud Run”. 

It is likely that Dirty Girl is the most popular mud run for females. While only 5k and open to any female contestant over 14 years of age, it is still challenging enough for first timers who have never gone through these obstacle races before. 

There are 10 obstacles that will be challenging for first timers, but for those who are fit, it is likely that they may not be as interesting and while Dirty Girl is the most popular race, it is recommended that if you’re seeking a bigger challenge, to face one of the most longer and difficult races like these, where men also compete. 

Still, when it comes to THIS particular race, it is fun and just about anyone who doesn’t have any medical conditions should have a great time with their friends and family members on there. Here’s a link to Dirty Girl Mud Run.

The second is “Muderella”:

Originally, this was an even that was up to 7 miles long and full of obstacles as well, making it longer and possibly harder than Dirty Girl. Yet something has changed…

If you try to look up this race, it links to Tough Mudder for some reason. In fact, any pages that originally had this race, now point to the other race. It is possible that this race is no longer in business and it does happen, as with the case of BattleFrog which recently cancelled all of it’s races. 

But what it now points to more often is the “Tough Mudder Half” which is a 5+ mile race, but it is not just for women, but men too. 

There are a few other races for women available, but they are local ones you’d have to find, otherwise, Dirty Girl and the other (which may be unavailable) are the 2 mainstream choices.

What to wear?

Well anything I recommend men wear, I will recommend the same for women, namely these things

But for a quick list:

  • Leggings. Protect your skin from the mud, just in case.
  • Spandex shirt which covers the entire body and arms, up to the hands themselves. Again, the more skin that’s covered, the safer you’ll be.
  • Great traction sneakers. The ones I wear are the Salomon SpeedCross and they also have a number of options for women too.

I would say those 3 things are the most important, but for the list above, you may also want to consider the other 7 things.

Also if you’re more experienced and enjoy wearing something “unorthodox”, consider costume ideas like these people come into these races with. Believe me, it can get pretty shocking as to what people can think of wearing to these things!

But overall, anything you wear, traditional or not will get dirty, and possibly even ripped a little bit if you’re not careful, so don’t worry about investing too much money into the clothing. If you get through the race without damaging it, that’s great, just wash it and have it ready for next time. If you’re careful enough, you can re-use the same clothing for at least 2 or more events.

How to train:

Again, every type of training regiment I have listed to get ready for mud runs applies to both men and women. Train harder for the more difficult races and a bit more liberally for the less difficult ones. 

For Dirty Girl, you probably won’t need much more than the ability to be able to jog 3 and a half miles and do some basic strength training regiments as well as scale monkey bars. If you can do all these 3 things, not only are you ready for Dirty Girl, but chances are, you’ll also be ready for just about every single 5k race there is, with the exception of the Spartan 5k which, while the same distance, is more intense in it’s terrain and obstacles. 

Keep in mind, you can always participate in ANY of these other races:

While I am a man who has done a bunch of these races, I have often seen teams of women doing them and having a great time. Here’s some of the obstacle events I’ve done:

  • Spartan Race, twice.
  • Tough Mudder.
  • MudManX.
  • Survival Race.

And in all of them, women were always participating as well. I will mention that the difficulty of something like Dirty Girl is not that different from the other races that feature both genders. You’ll still get similar obstacles and similar difficulty, unless you specifically do a more advanced race

So if you can’t find one of those female only races in your area, don’t worry about looking up one that has men in it too, as the obstacles are probably similar and you’ll have the same kind of fun.

If you want, you are free to make your own female only team and register as such on every race’s website. You can also make your own uniforms or enter under a specific team name and go through the event that way if you wish. Basically…

Even if the race you find isn’t just for women, there’s many areas made for you:

Many of the obstacles in most of the events have different sections for each gender. For example, in areas where you lift weights, women will get a slightly lighter weight to lift and carry. 

Just because both genders run through the same course doesn’t mean they have to go through the exact same version of the obstacle/s. So you don’t have to worry about having to face the same level of intensity if you don’t want to 🙂

While you’ll free to go through the men’s obstacles as well, just know that you can always pick out a different version if you’re not comfortable with it. Personally some of the weights I had to carry in something like the Spartan Race were too ridiculously heavy for even me and I would have preferred something lighter! 

Either way, if you find any more mud runs that are only made for women, let me know!

5 Mud Run Costume Ideas That Are Both Ridiculous And Awesome!

To me the though of wearing a nice or strange costume to an event where you’re going to get dirty is strange, but it’s really a thing and in this case, mud runs are the sport where lots of people who like to participate wear costumes and let me tell you, I’ve seen some that are quite out there…

Let’s get the basic outfits out of the way. The most common are uniforms.

It is very common for team members to wear similar uniforms and outfits to represent themselves. I have seen some incredible looking outfits being worn by men and women (oh I love the outfits they wear!), but here are the most ridiculous ones I’ve seen and I’ve got to say, they definitely made my eyes turn:

1) Kiss.

Yes, the rock band Kiss. In my most recent race a few months back, while my wave was waiting to start the race, we saw the previous wave passing by us and guess who comes out? 4 team members all dressed like Kiss. They walked up to our wave and gave us all a high five.

2) Moses.

Yes THAT Moses. In the same wave that had the Kiss team, a man dressed as Moses also made an appearance. There must have been something about that wave that attracted the costume fanatics…

Now the guy who wore this outfit went all out with it. He wore the robe, had the stick and beard, everything. But half of it was extremely dirty because of the mud he’d been going through.

3) A man wearing something that isn’t exactly traditional…

I am talking of course…about a thong. I kid you not, there was a man , on our wave who was going through the entire race in nothing but a thong and shoes. I do give him credit, he was doing this without a single care and even showing off! He did get a lot of attention from other competitors!

4) 2 men running in business suits.

Complete business suites mind you, WITH a briefcase. They were running on a track behind us, but when they crossed my team, they were completely wet and still keeping to their costume’s theme.

5) A man wearing a rat (or possum) outfit.

Now this wasn’t from my experience, but from watching a YouTube video of people going through what’s known as Electroshock Therapy. I was looking at that video for reference and as I examined it, BOOM, a man appeared in what looked like boxers, while wearing a rat outfit.

The surprise of seeing something so unusual (and after every costume I’ve seen so far!) made me laugh.

Unfortunately there is a lack of pictures to show all of these experiences because during the Tough Mudder race where I saw 3 out of the 5 costume examples, I didn’t have my Gopro on. The only time I did was when I was doing an obstacle, where Mr. Thong ran through.

I will tell you though, that people on every race that I’ve seen who see these things are very encouraging to those who do this. They applaud, clap and cheer them on so if you are the type whose shy but your friends are trying to get you to wear something, consider that:

  • People are usually very nice on these races, especially towards those who have the guts to wear crazy things.
  • You’re all going to get dirty anyway so it doesn’t matter how you dress up in the long run.

Here are ideas for mud run costumes if you’re into this:

Here’s a whole Pinterest page dedicated to this concept.

Is it wise to wear costumes to these races?

I like seeing unusual things, things that make me and other competitors laugh and seeing people wearing clothing that makes us smile is not something I’d ever be for making a rule against, but it is important to understand that the riskier your outfit, the more chances a simple slip, fall or injury can be worse if you’re not protected by a layer of traditional clothing that’s more suited for these races.

Let’s take our friend, the thong wearer, suppose that person were to fall or get cut somewhere. Just about his entire body is exposed to all the unclean elements of a mud run and if he were to get cut, there would be more chances that he could catch an infection.

And then there is also the outfits which make moving much more difficult. Take a person who puts on a full dress or robe, and imagine how difficult it would be for the to run through the obstacles of a these races when they can barely move around.

These types of clothing can be risky, especially for these activities because they can either impede your flexibility or they can worsen what would be a normal injury. 

Now this isn’t supposed to turn people away from wearing wild outfits and I would recommend them for more experienced runners who understand what’s necessary to get through these races without injuring yourself, but for beginners, it’s not worth the risk.

Wearing traditional mud clothing for these races is really the safest:

If you’re more for being wild and doing something that will catch eyes and make you more memorable, costumes will work, but if you’re more for safety, wear something traditional.

Now traditional mud run clothing varies, but here’s my 10 must wears. I think wearing those things maintains your flexibility and keeps you safe, including your muscles (which will kept warm). Here’s a sample of what I usually wear:

my mud run costume

Are there any rules against wearing costumes to these races? 

No, although you are advised to wear certain kinds of clothing and generally they give you some good ideas for staying safe, they aren’t mandatory and you can go “crazy” with the costume ideas, but keep in mind the risks that go with wearing them as well.

If you are the type whose doing a mud run for the first time and really want to wear something unusual, at least do an easy 5K race first and be careful. At the very least, no matter how crazy you go with the outfit, at least make sure to wear some good sneakers so you reduce the risk of slipping.

Tough Mudder’s Block Ness Monster. An Easy Way to do it.

tough mudder blockness monster

Block Ness Monster is frankly, one of the easier obstacles I experienced on Tough Mudder. Maybe it was because my team and I worked pretty well together or maybe it was because the challenge itself was easy, but aside from it being pretty obvious on how to bypass, lots of people do it different ways. 

The way I want to show you that my team and I did it is one I feel is the easier one, saves energy and helps you stay fresh for the remainder of the race. Considering that the blockness monster is somewhere around the middle of a Tough Mudder event (it could shift depending on how they organize the obstacles), it never hurts to have extra energy, and outputting too much on this one is just unnecessary. 

I once wrote about this challenge in a topic covering all of Tough Mudder’s obstacles, and I was halfway right about passing it, but the way here is far easier.

Anyway, here is how you should consider going through it:

First, know that you’re going to be jumping in COLD water. When we ran up to it, I got excited because of all the things I saw on it and jumped right in without thinking anything. Well I almost jumped out just as quickly due to how cold it was so be prepared to experienced that. It’s about 3 feet deep.

The next thing depends on how many people are there. Chances are, you and your team are not going to be alone when you do this, so besides working together, it’s ideal that half of you aim to go on the other side, then help the other half get there. So communicate with people, otherwise, it’s going to be annoying for unequal weights to be pushing the block. bnm1

Now we get to the specific technique for passing this challenge.

Let’s consider this:

1) The block is a long rectangle and obviously it has 4 sides. Let’s name each side with a letter, A-D. The object is to turn the sides of the rectangle so everyone gets over. 

You, your team and whoever is on the same side of the rectangle is on side A and you’re trying to get to side C. You need to rotate that thing counter clockwise (in this case).

2) Ok so remember the part I said about half the people jumping over to carry the other half over. We’ll keep it simple and only use 2 people, person 1 and 2.

Person 1 jumps on the edge of side B and person 2 is going to lift/push side A counter clock wise. As soon as the block moves a little to the side, person 1 should use that moment to scramble to the his whole body to the edge of B. Before he was holding on with his hands, and now his whole body is locked in that area:


3) Now as person 2 continues to push the block, eventually, it’ll shift sides completely so what was originally B at the top (part 1) will now be A and person 1 will be at the top of it. Now this is where the technique begins. 

Most people just jump over to the other side and continue to push the rectangle from that side, which works, but what we accidentally did that turned out to be a little easier was that when person 1 was at the top of the rectangle, instead of jumping over, he needs to rotate 180 degrees and hold onto the corner of A (this will now be the area person 2 was originally pushing). 

You’ll see why this turn will make it easier in a moment…


4) Now when the block starts to shift into a diagonal position again, NOW person 2 can either hop on the corner of A (where person 1 is holding) or they can hold onto the corner of D, the next corner. I prefer the the first one which person 1 hangs onto, so it gets done faster.

The job shifts to person 1 now to use the momentum of the rectangle moving to add their weight to it to make it go faster and basically lift person 2 as it happens. They push counter clockwise (same direction).

You see the technique is an energy saver because person 1 doesn’t have to push the other side and get their arms tired, they just naturally use their weight with the swing of the rectangle to carry over person 2:


And from there, it’s simple because the momentum is going to continue until person 2 goes over. And from there, you will need to repeat this on another block or 2, but the technique will be the same. 

But that’s all it takes to make this obstacle easy to bypass. I will now show you photos of us doing it, but I used those illustrations because the photos just don’t catch all the details of the technique like the illustrations above do.

For example, here is me doing part 2, where I was the first to jump up and hold onto the side of the rectangle:


Then I did the switch to the other side (part 3):


And when the turn was done, I held onto the other side and pushed it with my weight. Here it’s hard to see the whole thing, but the reflection on the block shows me holding on and pushing:


Then as the momentum was happening, I slipped and fell, but luckily it was already at a point where the rest of my team was getting carried over. And one guy to my left was still pulling with his weight down:


As you can see from those series of pictures, it would be VERY hard for me to explain this technique with them.

It wasn’t easy to film this “professionally” with my GoPro so you can see why I had to go with the other cheap illustration as the example. 

The first block we went through, we did it the regular way most people do it and you can certainly complete this obstacle that way, but if you’re well into the race and tired, our way may be a little bit easier and saves just that needed amount of energy to carry you through the other obstacles! 

Update: Blockness monster is tough only when…

There’s too many people trying to do it who don’t know how. This is what happened when I did a second Tough Mudder event a year later and this time around, when I ran into this obstacle, there were many more people, all trying their own ways to complete it, and this naturally caused confusion, disorganization and a longer time to complete it.

Luckily, a majority of the people doing it figured it out quickly allowing them to help even those who didn’t understand it, to also complete it and it involved using the same strategy I talked about that I used to complete the first one.