by Montana Ross (Pretty Lil Mudder)
Every time Tough Mudder is brought up in OCR groups on Facebook, it gets lots of negative press. For some reason, people love to hate on Tough Mudder. Being that it was my first big OCR event, it’s no secret that I have a soft spot for Tough Mudder. Every experience I’ve had with them has always been amazing, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. That being said, I was interested in getting the motive behind the negative comments; why do people dislike Tough Mudder so much? Or was it simply that the people who dislike it are the ones who comment most on the posts?
‘“The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences,” psychologist Rick Hanson is fond of saying, “and Teflon for positive ones.”’ (Michael Bergeisen, The Neuroscience of Happiness. Berkeley, University of California, September 22, 2010. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_neuroscience_of_happiness). Bergeisen wrote this article several years ago, but it remains true today. Generally speaking, it takes 5 positive experiences to negate 1 negative experience. People are inclined to remember the way a business has wronged them and are more inclined to share negative reviews than positive reviews. Since researching this information, I wanted to find out how many people actually disliked Tough Mudder and why.
The survey results were surprising. The first question I posed was “How do you feel about Tough Mudder?” This was a mandatory survey response, as I wanted as accurate a picture as possible. 40% of those surveyed said they loved it and a further 28% said it was “ok.” The majority of people who answered this survey did not, in fact, hate Tough Mudder. Of the remaining answers, only 17% said they had an outright dislike for it, while 15% said they didn’t know because they’d never done one. One thing that was really surprising was 23% of the people who said they didn’t like it had actually never done a Tough Mudder. It’s understandable why it would spike the fears of the average person perusing the website- most of us were hesitant or nervous before completing our first OCR. The fear of the unknown compared with some rather menacing descriptions of the obstacles (getting shocked by 10,000 volts anyone?) can make even the most seasoned obstacle racer hesitate.
As far as the reasons why people dislike it, mostly it relates to the financial commitment required- it’s no secret that Tough Mudder is expensive. Most of the people who took the survey were also aware that there was an option to volunteer and run for a discount, however, not everyone is willing to give up their day to volunteer at an event. Many also said that if they offered more discounts or lowered the price to a more manageable rate, they would consider signing up for another one or doing their first Tough Mudder. Some of the other reasons cited for their dislike of Tough Mudder were that people don’t like getting shocked (Electroshock Therapy is a staple obstacle), they feel that the ratio of obstacles: distance isn’t as good as other races, and they didn’t like the headband that was offered in place of the medal.
On the positive side, popular responses for why people enjoyed doing Tough Mudder’s were that the obstacles were fun and required teamwork, a hallmark of the series, and that it was an untimed event, allowing ‘weekend warriors’ to feel just as valued as elite racers. Many of the comments centered around how, at other events, the elites were catered to, and how this isn’t the case at Tough Mudder. “We’re all just there to have fun,” one person wrote. The majority of participants surveyed had also participated in Spartan Sprint (77%), Savage Race (70%), Battlefrog (70%) and local OCR events, such as Mud Endeavor, Mud Titan, etc. (75%). Many of the people who had done at least one Tough Mudder had done another and there was an equal split between those who kept coming back because they enjoyed it and those who kept doing it because their friends wanted to and they wanted to be supportive.
Despite the apparent negative press Tough Mudder receives, what this told me most of all was that people don’t actually hate it. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (and really, nothing appeals to everyone), the majority of people liked it- maybe just not enough to do it more than once. To those who said the reason they didn’t like it was because of a bad experience with the event, I encourage you to give it another chance. I’ve had a bad experience with a race before, but was rewarded the second time I participated with a much better experience. There’s always the chance that they’ve improved things or taken commentary to heart and changed some things around. They have recently been partnering with companies and providing great discounts. While I don’t see them removing Electroshock Therapy anytime soon, Tough Mudder is committed to improving every year, adding new obstacles and continuing to be innovative with their courses. As one of my favorite quotes says: